Frugal Indoor Seed Starting | Tiffany Selvey | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Why Should I Start Seeds Indoors?


    • 3.

      Equipment: Lights


    • 4.

      Equipment: Shelving


    • 5.

      Equipment: Heat Mats


    • 6.

      Equipment: Trays


    • 7.

      Seed Starting Mix


    • 8.

      Collect Your Supplies


    • 9.

      Seed Starting Demo


    • 10.

      Caring for Young Seedlings


    • 11.



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About This Class

Are you ready to get serious about growing food this year by expanding your garden? Is buying plants for your garden getting cost-prohibitive? Maybe you’re tired of the same boring plant varieties available at the local nursery and are ready to branch out into new and more exotic flavors. If any of these ideas appeal to you, then you’ll want to learn how to start seeds indoors in a way that results in strong, healthy plants that last throughout the growing season.  

In this class, you will learn exactly what you need to create an affordable and effective seed-starting shelf you can put anywhere in your home. We will discuss shelving and lighting options, as well as accessories you need (and some you don’t!). I’ll teach you how to start your seeds under grow lights and what techniques will result in healthy plants for your garden.

Whether this is your first year to grow a garden or you have been gardening for years but want to learn something new, this class is for you! I’m a master gardener with over a decade of gardening successes and failures, and I want to share my experience with you. Thank you for considering this class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Tiffany Selvey

Passionate Organic Gardener


Some of my earliest memories take place in my grandfather's garden. We would walk around this magical place, snacking here and there on whatever was ripe at the moment, and listen to the birds sing. It's safe to say, I have loved gardens my entire life!

In 2012 I got serious about my obsession with gardening and became a master gardener. Since then, I have spent time volunteering in museum gardens as well as teaching a variety of classes including Advanced Master Gardener Training at the local extension office, and basic gardening classes at my library, the Botanical Gardens, the Flower and Nature Society... pretty much any place that will have me! I have spent a few years selling produce, but my real love is teaching others to grow their own.

I firmly believe that... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome!: Hi, everyone. Welcome to frugal indoor seed starting. I'm Tiffany, the creator of simple gardening master gardener and obsessive organic gardener. I'm so glad you're considering this class. Starting seeds indoors allows gardeners to get a jump start on the growing season, cutting their harvest time by weeks, if not months. Planning a tomato seed outdoors after the last chance of frost. And when soil temperatures are warm enough, it means waiting about 80 days for the first tomato from the time of planting. If that see this planted on May 15 then you should expect your first harvest around August 3rd. That's a long time to wait for its NATO. Sure, you could buy plants, and many people do. If you have a moderately sized garden, the cost of plants between about a dollar 50 and $4 apiece, it really adds up quickly. Since saving money by growing your own food is one of the main benefits of gardening, spending a ton of money on plants kind of negates that benefit. Comparatively, you can get 20 to 100 plants from one high quality seed package, and that costs about $2.50. Uh, if you're lucky. Sometimes you can get one for a lot less. The savings from starting seeds adds up quickly. The struggle for new gardeners is knowing how to start seeds, what to start indoors, Windows start seeds and how much to invest in the initial seed starting set up. This is mobile cover. In this class, there will be an initial investment. There's just no way to get around that. While sunlight through window is free, it is insufficient to start seeds and grow them into strong, healthy plants ready to transition into the wild outdoors. Don't worry. We'll talk about how to save money on that initial investment, which will save you tons of money allowing you to start seeds rather than purchasing plants year after year. I hope you'll join me in this fund class about learning to start seeds indoors without spending a fortune 2. Why Should I Start Seeds Indoors?: Not only is it much more frugal to start your plants from seed, it also opens up a world of varieties to you. When buying plants, you were limited to the few varieties available locally large scale growers. When a guaranteed cell, this means that they grow and distribute plant varieties that are well known. But that doesn't mean that they're seasonally appropriate, the best tasting or well suited to your climate. Often it means thes varieties air hardy enough to survive travel and abuse by inexperienced employees that water too much or too little often both at different times. It's not bad to buy these popular name brand plants, especially as a new gardener, but one small cart of vegetable plants and herbs at 3 to $4 each adds up quickly. And that's just for run of the mill varieties. If you really want to explore the best of what your home garden can offer, look outside the big box store when you grow whites. NATO interested in growing French Melons Chances are you won't find those options at your local store, as I said, they have to carry the varieties with the biggest demand, not necessarily the most exotic options. Conversely, by growing your own plants from seed, you're only limited to what hundreds of seed catalogs have to offer. Seen. Starting season is very exciting. Whenever you start giving those seed catalogs, just be careful not to get addicted. For those wanting interesting varieties without starting all their seats from home, farmers markets are often a good choice. Growers at local markets often have more interesting varieties than you'll find in a local nursery or big box store. But the price generally reflects the premium products. For many people, the biggest consideration when deciding to grow plants from seed is just saving money. Gardeners can literally save hundreds of dollars a year simply by growing their own seedlings, so the initial investment pays for itself several times over. 3. Equipment: Lights: If you do a quick Google search for seed starting lights, you'll find that there are many types of girl lights on the market, each with different benefits and drawbacks. Led full spectrum lights are great if you want to grow plants to maturity indoors. This is the best option. However, if you are growing tomatoes from seed to fruit inside and you're just looking for something to start seeds indoors. Thes pricey lights aren't necessary for many folks looking to save money by starting their own seeds. L E D lights are cost prohibitive. The most basic light fixture runs around $75 while complete kids or upwards of 400. For someone wanting to start seeds for a garden larger than 2000 square feet, you're looking at a possible initial investment of $1000 for lights alone, you can buy a lot of organic produce with that much money. Thankfully, there isn't much more frugal and effective option available in the lighting section of nearly any department store shop lights basic to light T 12 shop lights attached to shelf using Essex and chains, which are usually included. These lights use a basic three pronged plug so they can be used anywhere there four feet long, so it's easy to find shelving systems that work for them. Each light fixture runs there on $12 each bulb is around $2 bringing the total cost to under $15 per lights. While these lights don't offer quite enough strong light to support a full grown plant, T 12 fluorescent shop lights are extremely effective for starting seeds indoors, using the method we will explore later in this class. 4. Equipment: Shelving: There are a number of different shelves that can work for seed starting. Many people use a four foot why plastic or metal shelf system and hang a shop light above each shelf. If you're handy with tools, you can easily and inexpensively make yourself a wood shelving unit. There really is. No one writes. Option here. Some things to consider when selecting a seed starting shelf to finish off light, the shelf must be four feet wide or you can combine to two foot shelves. There must be a way to connect the shop light Teoh Eat shelf Using an adjustable chain with Essex wire shelving makes the super simple, but there are many ways to rig shelving to allow for adjusting light heights. If you're feeling creative, the shelf must be sturdy anchoring to the walls. A good idea the whole season that sealings can be lost if his shell falls over and you do not want that kind of heartbreak. Ideally, a shelf would be easy to clean. Wooden shelves, especially raw wood shelves, will work, but they will be more difficult to clean. It's not a requirement, but it is nice to be able to hose off the shelf at the end of seeds starting season. As I mentioned, if you're handy with tools, building a shelf with scraps of lumber is certainly the most frugal option. In fact, if you have everything on hand, you can create a four light for shelf unit for under about $70. A nice heavy duty wire shelving unit costs around $75 making the total cost of the unit with lights and about 135. Still not a terrible price for a set up that will last 10 years or possibly much longer. I spent about that much on my seed starting shelf about eight years ago, and I haven't even had to replace lightbulbs yet. That means my average cost per year over the life of this seat starting set up is around $17 that's going to go down every year. Use it. I couldn't buy many plants for my garden for 17 bucks, not even for one season. 5. Equipment: Heat Mats: When it comes to accessories, One thing that we want to discuss is heat mats. Heat meds air like heating pads that sit under a tray of seedlings, warming the soil for better germination. While useful and worth the investment of about $20 each, they're not absolutely necessary for starting seeds indoors unless your home is kept very cool, something like below 60 degrees. Most of the time. Tomatoes, lettuce, melons and other plants. All German. Eight. Well in soils that stay consistently above 60 degrees, and you really will get better. Germination rates the warmer your soil temperature is making the most of your seat investment. If you're starting seeds in an unheated basement or garage, you may need heat mets for most crops, depending on your climate. If you want to start heat loving plants like peppers, okra and some flower seeds, you may need a few heat Mets if you want to keep seeds inside and you don't keep your house very warm. So what we're talking about is a heat map that looks kind of like this has a regular plug in the difference between this and, say, a regular heating pad that you would get at the drug store is that this stays on 24 7 whereas a heating pad you would have to turn off and on like every hour, so that's not going to work very well overnight. Plus, these have just a regular two pronged um, outlets of it really easy to plug into either a power strip or directly into the wall, depending on how many heat maps you have. I have two of these on, and that is enough to get me through, usually starting all of my tomatoes and peppers for a smallish garden. Um, I shouldn't really say smallish around around 1600 square feet, so not too small. So it's just like this, and they do come in different sizes at different price points. Definitely shop around. I think I bought mine on eBay for around $13. I think you can find really good prices on Amazon as well, so look around, get the best deal. I think a heat mat is a worthy investment. But if it's your first year and your low on funds, it's definitely something you can wait on. If you live in a warmer climate. A small outdoor greenhouse might be a better option for germinating heat living seeds about six weeks before the last expected frost eight, it is much more difficult to regulate the temperature of a miniature greenhouse, which is why the art ideal for starting both seeds but they do have their benefits. Just remember to bring in your seedlings if there is a chance for frost, and always keep an eye on that temperature inside the greenhouse. Because one surprise warm day and all of your seedlings can cook. So starting seeds indoors really is a much more controlled environment where surprises like a sunny day you weren't expecting won't destroy all of your ceilings. 6. Equipment: Trays: now, with the most important seed starting elements out of the way. It's time to discuss small accessories that make seeds starting easier, like lights there tons of expensive products developed specifically for seed starting some are very effective, Others or not. With so many options, how do you know what you actually need? Well, there's very little that the home gardener actually has to buy. In fact, you may already have most of what you need in your kitchen. Because I'm such a fan of starting seeds and newspaper pots. I created a whole separate class on how to make your own using items that you already have it home. If you haven't yet. Be sure to watch my class make newspaper pots to start scenes. Since that classes already published, I won't repeat that information here. So since the most effective and frugal container option for starting seeds is a newspaper pot, the next thing you need to have on hand is a trade toe. Hold those containers, as they said on this shelf under your grow lights, because we water young seedlings from the bottom. The trade that we select must be watertight. Um, I particularly like to use B p a free dish plans that are available at most dollar stores for a dollar they last a long time. They can be recycled if they break or something like best. But I particularly like them, and this is what we're going to be using for our demonstration in this video. I like the high sides. You can see. I've already made my newspaper pot so they're higher than my newspaper pots. But just low enough that I can put my lights right on top of the containers so that they're close to my young seedlings. If you don't want to make a purchase or if you're avoiding plastic or you can't find something near you, definitely look in your kitchen. Another great option is a glass casserole dish. So something like this regular Pyrex dish or acre hawking or whatever it has the high sides . I think this is probably about two inches, so there's plenty of room for your containers to sit in there and still water from the bottom and be watertight while giving you everything you need and plenty of room for lots of seedlings. You can also consider other things like up cycling recycling containers from take out dishes. Organic less lettuces often come in plastic containers that are watertight. So, you know, be creative looking your recycling. Ben. Look in your kitchen before you go buy something. One thing to consider when starting seeds indoors is having a clear cover for seedlings up to and just after germination. Although not the most environmentally friendly option, any trade can be covered with a layer of plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect. Containers with clear glass lids are an excellent option there. Also disposable aluminum baking pans that come with a plastic lid. They're also a great option for creating that greenhouse effect that we're going for that happened to look tidy. They can be reused. They could also be recycled. It also helps that they're cheap and can transition well from indoors to outdoors. When it's time to harden off seedlings, it is not necessary to cover a container with plastic to start seeds under girl lights. But it does create that greenhouse effect inside the container, which speeds germination and keeps the soil a little bit warmer. Personally, I generally just leave my seats uncovered on a heat, met and they germinate Well, this is something that you can experiment with when you start seeds and find out what works for you and what you like the best. I do want to make a note here on why I don't recommend people. It's that are so readily available at garden centres. I cannot recommend the store about greenhouses developed to use them because I don't like to use them. If you particularly like using peat pallets, those greenhouses will work well under grow lights. And if you're wondering why I don't recommend people, it's There are a few reason Pete is not a sustainable resource, and I try to be environmentally friendly in my garden. I also have had problems with the netting around people. It's hindering root growth, which Senate and ruin several of my plants that I had transplanted out in my garden After using them just a few times, I continue to find the peat pellet netting in my garden a couple seasons after planting them, proving that that netting doesn't always decompose quickly. This is my personal opinion, so I would encourage you again to try different seed starting options and find what works for you 7. Seed Starting Mix: successful seed starting comes down to three basic elements. Good light, the right container and the right planting medium. We have already covered the 1st 2 so let's tackle the third. There are a number of pre made seed starting mix is, but they are pretty pricey, so creating your own seed mix is another great way to save money While starting seeds. My soil mix recipe is super simple. Just mix two parts topsoil, two parts composed in one part vermiculite. Place all ingredients in a large container with the lid so you can save the leftover mix to use later. A standard storage bin or a five gallon bucket work perfectly. It seems like buying soil should be a simple task, but when you get to the store, you'll be confronted with a number of different types of soil. Ah, lot of soil mixes have fertilizer already mixed in. And while there are organic options, the more specialized and complicated the product, the more it costs. It's also easy to confuse playing topsoil with garden soil. Garden soil is made to be added to your existing soil to improve nutrient levels and structure. These are not suitable options for starting seats indoors. Look for words on the package, like garden soil and for in ground use. If you're looking from pre made mix to start seeds indoors, there are products that are specifically labeled for seed starting. Or you can use a general potting mix, which often have synthetic fertilizers. Since I like to keep my garden organic from the very beginning, I choose the most basic topsoil, which also happens to be the cheapest. This product ranges from about a dollar 50 to $2.50 for £40. That is a lot of soil. I also like to purchase the basic compost manure mix, which is about 2 50 for £40. You can buy an organic option for around $5 for the same amounts. Vermiculite is the most expensive ingredients in this mixture, at about $5 for eight quarts. Ultimately, I usually end up using one bag of each topsoil, compost and vermiculite for my soil mix. I used the extra for house plans for my container garden. This really is my general go to soil mix for all things plants, even for my succulents. I just use this mix and add in a little bit more perlite over Mickey lights to keep the soil from holding as much water and getting soggy, easy peasy. You probably noticed that I avoid soil products that have fertilizers from my soil mix. That's because compost has all the nutrients that young seedlings need to get started, and I fertilized my plants throughout the season. No need to pay extra for a soil product that contains fertilizer, but it's okay if you do. 8. Collect Your Supplies: Okay, now we've dis est your seed, starting lights, shelving trey options and other optional supplies. We've even discussed your homemade soil mix. Now, what are you going to start your seeds? And you've probably seen those names that show up around the Internet and social media about using unconventional items for starting seeds. I've seen posts encouraging people to use eggshells, lemon rinds and my personal favorite ice cream cones. These air not suitable options. If you want to avoid rot and mold and trust me, you do. Keep in mind when you see things like this that your seats are going to be inside your house on your seed starting shelf for about eight weeks. Food ruts quickly. Are you going to want to handle? Handle that nasty, moldy lemon right When it's time to transplants? I don't think anyone would look forward to that. And while eggshells are an excellent source of calcium for the garden, they take a long time to break down. We need to make sure that our ceiling routes have room to grow once they're transplanted, and if you put them inside an eggshell and the ground, there's no place for those routes to girl until the eggshell decomposes. It's not a great idea. More suitable options are, of course, my favorite newspaper pots. Small disposable paper clubs like Dixie cups, up cycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Or just about anything that will remain mold free long A. For your ceilings to sprout, grow and be hardened off to transplant, which generally takes around eight weeks. Many people use plastic cuts like red solo cups. As I said, I like to avoid plastic as much as possible, But this is a solid solution, and if you're careful, you can use them for a couple of seasons and then recycle. You can also consider reusing any containers that you have left over from buying plants. Just make sure that you wash them first to kill any bacteria, pest or disease agents that might be left over in the soil or in the container. The key to a good sealing container is making sure it has good drainage. Your ceilings will rot if it doesn't. If you use plastic poke holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. All right, so now we've gone over everything you need to start seeds. It's time to make a list and shop for everything you don't already have, but be sure to shop your house first. 9. Seed Starting Demo: Okay, so now that you've collected all of your supplies, it's time for the fun part, actually planting scenes. All right, so you can see that I have got a dish pan here, like I showed you earlier in my newspaper Containers full of my soil mix. Now we're going to put in seeds. I'm starting with tomato seeds today because it's about time of year to start tomato seeds . So one good rule of thumb. If you have a seed packet that doesn't have information on seed planting depth you can do is take a look at the seed in this situation. Are things your tiny because we're planting tomato sees. So what you can generally do is plant the seed about twice as deep as the seeds diameter. So what size is the seed about? I don't know, an eighth of an inch for these tiny tomato cherry tomatoes seats that I'm starting, so I'm just gonna put them gently on the top of the service and then just cover them really lightly with soil. The number of seats that you'll use per container really needs to depend on how old your seeds are, so these scenes are This is the second year about these for last year's planting season, So these air she eight years old. For that reason, I'm going to plant them a little bit. I'm gonna use more seeds per container than I live. This was the first year, so I'll do about five seeds per container. If it were first year plants, I would probably our first your scenes. I would probably plans about re seeds, so it's gonna spray police on the top of the soil and then lightly cover them with just a tiny bit of soil. And, of course, our soil mix is nice and loose, so that makes it really easy to cover them with just a tiny amount. One thing I don't want to forget to mention is that we need to label our seeds. It's awful Teoh by these special seed varieties and then forget what we've planted where that we don't know what's performed well and what have it so you can buy special labels. If you could buy, you could buy pretty labels you by special plant labels. I like to use Popsicle sticks from the dollar store from any general store of you have kids that eat possibles. Just stay in them Magic marker, Right? The variety on your Popsicle stick. In my case, I'm going to write Cherokee purple tomatoes and a lollypop tomato that I'm serving this year. Okay, so once you collected all of your supplies and you've got your seeds in your containers, it's timeto water. And water is a really important element. Whenever you're starting your seeds, we want to keep the soil Damn, but not soggy. What a really great way to do that is to water the containers from the bottom. And that's what if the reasons why I like newspaper containers so much because I can water down the side of the container instead of on top of the surface of the planters, displacing my seed so my seeds aren't going to get moved at all. And they're going to come up right in the center and not all wonky because I move them around by watering. You might notice that, but he has come here to help me help me demonstrate today. All right, so I'm going to show you exactly how the water now, this is just a little battle that I have in my kitchen. You can use anything with this spout, but you do want something that makes it easy to direct the flow of water. And the reason for that is because we're avoiding the surface of the planet Containers. We need to make sure we can pour the water in exactly where we want it. So I'm aiming for a section on the side of my plants were here where I am completely missing the container. You can see I'm not getting the soil directly wet at all. But that newspaper is going to help wick the water from the bottom of the container up to the surface of the soil. So the seeds stay damp but not soggy. And we're not moving them around with heavy flow of water. This is the point. This is how we're going. Teoh, continue toe water our young seedlings until they're quite big. Because what's the seedlings sprout, You know, they're really fragile, and we don't want to break any stems. But one hard flow of water can break Astin in no time at all. And you've wasted all of that time starting your seats. So this process really helps keep our seeds in place and are seedlings safe and sturdy until they're big enough for a harder flow of water, like from the the's sprayer from your sink. Or even if you're outside, you can use the hose, but we've got to make sure there are seedlings survive to get that big, and this will help us do that. 10. Caring for Young Seedlings: and often overlooked element of starting seeds is light placement. Seedlings need direct close lights. Since fluorescent lights are not hot, they will not burn young seedlings. This is where the benefit of having a shop light on adjustable chains comes into effect right after seeds air started his position, the lights as close as one inch away from the top of the trade. As ceilings grow, continue to adjust the light so that it always remains about one inch above the top of the tallest plant in the trade at all times. Having the life extra too far about ceilings creates week leggy ceilings because they're struggling to reach the light. This is a problem when starting seeds and windows sealing simply cannot grow thick, strong stems because they're working too hard to reach for the light. This effect is not applying to greenhouses, which effectively collect and intensify the sun's lights. Two grossed in strong enough to withstand the elements outdoors. It's important to occasionally move the plants alike, jostle up the tray or gently just running your hands over the top of young ceilings, or even placing a fan at the end of the seed starting area Um, and turning it on once or twice a day is enough to encourage the growth of strong, healthy stems. This is a particular benefit for tomatoes, mostly just because you get the thrill of the smell of tomato plants on your hands. One of the hardest parts of starting seats for me is thinning out the ceilings. Once the ceilings reach about four inches tall, it's time to thin them to one plant per pots. Allowing them to grow together creates crowding and competition for nutrients. Select the strongest, healthiest plant in each pot and cut the rest of the plants off with scissors just above the surface of the soil. Never pull plants up by the root as this will damage the roots of the plants you want to keep. 11. Conclusion2: I really hope that this class has helped you find ways to start your own seed starting shelf and feel confident about starting seeds for your garden this year. Whether you want to start seeds to save money or you want to grow better varieties than the same old, same old, I'm here to help you get started. Thank you so much for taking this class and please post any questions you may have. If you want to stay up to date on my newest classes, be sure to click follow below. I also share Resource is here, and my followers are the first to hear about these opportunities. I hope you will come this in my website, which provides links to my e books and bog all about making your gardening life a little bit easier. Thank you so much for taking this class and please post any questions you may have. You can find my blawg and links to the I E books on my website. Simple gardening dot us. You can also find me on instagram at instagram dot com slash simple gardening and W a in facebook dot com slash simple gardening and W a