For many gardeners, this is probably the best season of the year, seed catalog season. Starting the first week of January, a colorful seed catalog will appear in your mailbox, as will your email inbox with a link to the online seed catalog.
For a Greater Columbus vegetable gardener, nothing is more satisfying than perusing a colorful seed catalog on a cold, snowy, rainy January day and dreaming of growing the perfect garden just a few months later.
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Many vegetable gardeners jump into the growing season by starting their own seeds indoors, and January is the time to start planning to order seeds and other needed supplies.
Benefits of growing your own seedlings
There are many benefits to sowing vegetable seeds indoors, but for me, having a wider variety of crops to choose from tops the list of benefits. There are usually few varieties of a particular crop.
Choosing the seeds you need and starting indoors makes it easier to choose vegetable varieties with the exact characteristics you need. You can also grow a variety of plants that have been proven to work well in
In some cases, the cost of purchasing a single seedling can cost more than an entire packet of seeds, so starting your own seeds can also save you money. But the biggest advantage of growing your own seedlings is the satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from being able to jump into the growing season and be actively gardening during the Greater Columbus winters.
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Selecting seeds to grow indoors
While sowing seeds indoors offers many benefits to the gardener, not all seeds need to be started indoors. Some vegetable crops grow better when sown directly into the soil outdoors. Before you start planting, it’s best to understand which seeds you need to start indoors and transplant into your garden.
Vegetables that can be a good start indoors include Brussels sprouts, eggplant, kale, lettuce, greens, onions, okra, peppers, and tomatoes. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds are actually easier to start indoors and transplant into your garden as seedlings than sown directly into your outdoor garden.
Seeds that are a little more difficult to sow indoors include celery, chard, cucumber, melon, squash, spinach, and squash. Vegetables such as beans, beets, carrots, corn, and peas should be sown directly into the garden, as the roots can be disturbed during transplanting, hindering plant growth.
when to start seeding
Most warm-season crops, such as peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash, should be sown indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost, which usually occurs near May 1 in Greater Columbus. Cool season crops such as onions, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce can be sown indoors as early as February, depending on soil conditions, as they can be transplanted into the garden before the last frost.
Resist the temptation to start seeding indoors too early, as seedlings can take root before you transplant them into your garden.
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Organize necessary supplies
It’s also a time to gather and organize the supplies you need to grow your seedlings. Seeding trays and pots must be cleaned and sterilized before planting. Make sure your lights and fans are in proper working condition before you have to plug it in this winter.
Purchase the proper seeding medium for starting seeds indoors. All-purpose or multi-purpose potting mixes work well for large seeds such as pumpkins and cucumbers, but small seeds such as tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and eggplants. should use a seeding mix specifically designed for sowing. .
Mike Hogan is an agricultural and natural resources extension educator and associate professor at The Ohio State University Extension.