• a proper growing medium
Start seeds in a fresh, sterile seed-starting mix that is light and fluffy to the touch, or buy compressed pellets of peat or coir (coconut husk fibers) that expand when wet. If the growing medium is too wet or not sterile, disease can strike. If soil is too heavy or sticky, fine new roots won’t be able to push through.
Try used containers for plantings—last year’s annual packs, yogurt cups or other appropriate sized containers. Clean and sterilize any pots you plan to reuse. Try biodegradable pots that can be planted right in the soil and protect the tender roots of your young plants. Don’t forget to label your containers.
Once your seeds are planted, they need to be in a warm, well-lit place and the soil needs to be kept damp, but not overly wet. Check on them daily. After sprouting, turn the plants often to keep them from bending toward the light.
When the seedlings are about 8 inches high and the weather is appropriate (beware of cold and wind), start getting them acclimated to the outdoor temperatures before transplanting into the garden. Check your zone to determine exactly when to plant the seedlings outdoors. Long Island is Zone 7.
For more helpful gardening tips, see Cornell Cooperative Extension’s indoor seed starting tips PDF.
Don’t have space for a garden of your own? Look into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) or find a community garden plot. Search for local farms and CSAs at www.localharvest.org.
—Submitted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation