Growing your own vegetables from seeds can be a fun and rewarding project. Whether you have raised beds in your backyard or a planter on a sunny balcony, now is a good time to start seeds indoors.
You’ll need vegetable seeds, small containers or trays with 3-5” cells, and potting mix (soil from your backyard is not recommended as it is too dense for growing healthy seedlings and may contain weed seeds and pathogens).
Place the planted seeds in a warm and bright area. The ideal temperature is 70-80°F, and the optimum brightness can be achieved on a sunny windowsill supplemented with a fluorescent lamp (a desk lamp with a cool white fluorescent bulb will work). Water just enough to keep the seedlings and potting mix from drying out. Roots need ample oxygen; too much water can suffocate your seedlings. Many vegetables need about six weeks of indoor growing time before they are ready to be transplanted outside.
The ideal time to transplant your vegetable seedlings is when night time temperatures are regularly above 50°F (waiting until June is usually safe). Since the day time and night time temperatures in the Front Range can greatly vary, it is a good idea to “harden off” your seedlings before transplanting. Hardening off is the process of acclimating your seedlings to outdoor conditions. It is done by placing your seedlings outside for a few hours a day, increasing the amount of outside time each day for one to two weeks. Once your seedlings are used to being outside they are ready to go in the ground or in a planter.