University of Maryland Extension

Starting Vegetable/Flower Seeds Indoors

Neon eggplant seedlings growing in a flat

Starting seeds indoors is about as much fun as a food gardener can have in late winter! The idea is to grow baby plants (a.k.a. transplants or starts) for 2-8 weeks (depending on the vegetable and rate of plant growth) and then plant outdoors where the crops will mature and be harvested. Just about any crop can be started inside and transplanted outside. With a small investment and bit of space, you can grow hundreds of healthy transplants. All of the supplies you need can be found at home (reused food containers for starting seeds) or purchased locally from hardware stores, garden centers, and big box stores. Growing your own transplants

  • saves you money- this may take a few years since there are first-year set-up costs
  • increases your garden’s output- get earlier harvests by starting with transplants instead of seeds
  • allows you to grow the crops and cultivars you like best rather when you need them- no need to plant only what’s available in retail stores
  • gives you better control of germination and plant stand- fewer skips, no thinning
  • lessens pest and weather risks- no worries about cool, wet weather keeping you from planting or encouraging seed rotting diseases.

Use the information, tips, and photos in this section to start growing. There are many excellent variations of the techniques described here. These web pages are designed to get you off to a successful start- not to be all encompassing. Ask the Experts when you have questions or problems.

Tips for Growing Vegetable Transplants

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