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best plants to start indoors

Tender plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant require a long growing season to reach maturity; for best results, start them from seed indoors before transplanting them into your garden.

Start them in individual peat pots to ensure a successful transplant when the time comes. Melons like watermelon and cantaloupe should be started eight weeks prior to planting in the ground, but no earlier than four weeks after the last frost date.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a widely beloved home garden plant. Heat-loving and sun-loving, they require an extended season to thrive. For best results, plant tomatoes outdoors during the spring when all danger of frost has passed. In colder climates (zones 5 and below), tomatoes can also be started indoors to ensure they get enough warmth throughout their growing season.

If you plan to plant tomato seeds indoors, it is recommended to start them 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost date. This will give them enough time to develop substantial size, form a strong root system, and harden off before frost arrives.

Once the seedlings have established themselves and grown deeply roots, they can be transplanted to a bright south-facing window. They require approximately 18-22 hours of additional light per day for optimal growth; grow lights or shop lights (available at garden and home centers) suspended a few inches above the plants will encourage strong, vigorous growth.

As your seedlings sprout, make sure to water them daily to maintain soil moisture. They also need regular fertilization for improved growth and nutrient levels. Mix a slow-release pelleted plant food into the potting mix at planting time and add pellets at intervals recommended on the package.

When transplanting tomatoes, it’s essential to select pots deep enough for their roots to develop. You can purchase special potting soils specifically designed for seed-starting or mix compost and sand together for an ideal mix.

Once your tomato plant has its first set of true leaves, repotting into a larger pot is recommended. If you notice leggy seedlings on your plants, move them to larger containers until the plant has more than three sets of true leaves.

Repotting tomatoes is a breeze if you take the bottom leaves off first and place their entire root ball into a larger pot. Gently loosen the roots to make transplanting into new soil much simpler.

Depending on the variety, tomato plants can take anywhere from 60 to 80 days to produce fruit. Harvest your tomatoes before they become ripe to prevent spoilage and continue feeding and caring for them throughout winter – this will guarantee another crop of delicious tomatoes in the coming year!

Lettuce

Lettuce is an ideal indoor plant to start, as it’s relatively low maintenance and can be easily regrown annually. Plus, lettuce boasts a low calorie content with plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Choose from romaine, iceberg or red leaf lettuces; all delicious and easy to grow.

In general, lettuce seeds can be started indoors up to four weeks prior to your area’s last frost date. They should be planted 1/4 inch deep in a container that provides ample room for growth.

Temperature and light are essential when growing lettuce. Generally, cool temperatures and bright illumination encourage healthy growth and a reliable harvest; however, higher temperatures or dry conditions may promote bolting which could result in bitter leaves.

Keep your lettuce indoors in a brightly-lit area and provide adequate watering to encourage healthy growth. In hot weather, shade the plant from direct sun exposure with either a shade cloth or greenhouse cover to help it avoid bolting.

Typically, you should transplant your lettuce when it reaches 3-6 inches tall. At that point, you have two options: cut it off at the ground or use a knife to slice off smaller pieces.

The great news is you can keep growing lettuce with kitchen scraps! For instance, if some iceberg lettuce has died on the vine, simply replant it in water and watch it come back to life.

One way to promote lettuce regrowth is by planting it in containers with a drainage hole at the bottom. This prevents water from becoming stagnant and makes resprouting easier later.

Asparagus

Asparagus is an ideal plant to grow in your garden, as it can be grown from seeds or planted as crowns. Container gardening with Asparagus is also possible; just ensure they receive plenty of sunshine!

After about three years, asparagus plants will be ready for harvest. You can find fresh-picked spears at farmers markets or grocery stores selling locally-produced foods; however, for the tastiest spears possible, buy them directly from growers as soon as they are harvested.

To start growing asparagus, you’ll need to create a bed specifically for it that’s separated from other plants and vegetables. Create an area that has good drainage with quality soil and garden compost for best results.

Once your bed is prepared, it’s time to plant your asparagus seeds. Choose a sunny location and plant according to package instructions; some seeds may take several weeks to germinate so be patient and keep the area free of weeds during this time.

After about one month, you should start seeing small shoots coming from the roots of the crowns. Cover the crowns with two inches of soil but be mindful not to bury them or their roots as this could cause irreparable damage.

Asparagus thrives in medium to sandy soil, but it prefers not acidic conditions. It requires a mixture of phosphorus and potassium, so apply fertilizer before it emerges in early spring. Feed again during late summer, mulch the bed again during frost protection in fall for optimal growth.

Another advantage of starting asparagus indoors is that you can regulate its temperature better than if planted outdoors. However, maintaining this ideal climate in a greenhouse can be tricky since different areas must be kept at suitable temperatures for successful growth of your produce.

Asparagus is a long-term project, so be prepared for it to occupy much of your time. It’s an oversized plant that requires plenty of room.

Perennial Flowers

Perennial flowers make for a wonderful addition to any garden, as they come back each year with fresh blooms and require minimal upkeep. Many flowering perennials can be grown from seeds, bare root or purchased as nursery plants for easy cultivation.

Starting annual seeds is easy if you follow the instructions on their packet. Usually, these instructions provide all of the information necessary for successful planting indoors or in your garden, from temperature and hardiness zone requirements to depth and spacing requirements.

For optimal results, adhere to your seed packet instructions closely – especially those for perennial flowers. Unlike annuals, some perennial flowers require specific conditions for germination (like cold treatment). Be sure to read your packet carefully and select varieties suitable for your growing environment.

Once your seeds have germinated, transplant them into 3-inch pots and continue growing them under a grow light as spring temperatures warm. When the seedlings have their first true leaves, gradually expose them to full outdoor exposure until you are ready for planting in your garden.

Yamhilla, known for its delicate foliage and long bloom season, is an easy-care plant that can thrive in a variety of soil and light conditions. It produces large flat-topped clusters of vibrant flowers from summer until fall, making it the ideal companion to other perennials in your garden.

Black-eyed Susan is another drought-tolerant perennial that can thrive in a variety of soils, making it ideal for gardeners with limited space. A member of the sunflower family, it features strong yellow blooms with an intense dark center.

Like all perennials, black-eyed Susan requires patience to establish itself and begin producing flowers. It will take at least a year for these beauties to naturalize and thrive in your garden; but the wait will be worth it! Plus, once you have these beauties in your yard, it’s easy to incorporate them among your annual beds for increased blooming enjoyment throughout the summer.

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