Starting plants indoors can have many advantages, but it can also be a fairly involved process. You may want to carefully review the steps and materials in this series of posts before you begin, to ensure you have the proper indoor environment, means, time, desire, and ability to nurture your plants from the seed through seedling stages. If you currently lack any or all of these things, maybe you know someone who has them. Teaming up with others to raise transplants indoors can make the entire process less daunting.
You may want to visit a retail plant nursery or home improvement center (or browse their websites) as you consider which sizes of containers you will need for your transplants. During spring and fall, especially, transplants in containers will be on display there. Often, you will need containers of more than one size, since you may need to replant your seedlings into larger pots as they grow. While it is tempting to sow seeds directly into larger containers from the start, this is generally not the best way to proceed, if the containers are larger than the four-inch pots used by nurseries to hold individual vegetable, herb, and annual flower transplants (see image below.) Small seedlings may rot in pots that hold too much damp soil for their roots to reach.
Jumbo packs (a.k.a. six packs or cell packs), also found at most nurseries, each hold multiple small plants of the same variety. These are good for holding small to intermediate transplants. Sooner or later, you may want to pot plants up into containers roughly equivalent in size to the four-inch pots. Each four-inch pot holds more than the recommended amount of soil to support a healthy transplant, whereas jumbo packs often hold somewhat less, depending on the size of each cell.
Seeding flats hold a large number of small seedlings. Transplants in seeding flats will not be on display at retail nurseries or home improvement centers, because these retailers sell transplants at later stages of growth, when they have outgrown the flats and are ready to be planted in the ground. However, empty flats will often be for sale at both nurseries and home centers.
You will need
SEEDING FLATS (aka SEEDING TRAYS)
PLASTIC POTS (roughly 4 inches across the top)
CLEANED, REUSED HOUSEHOLD CONTAINERS
(such as EGG CARTONS)
(such as NEWSPAPER POTS)
TRAYS TO HOLD THEM
Do you have experience growing transplants indoors? If so, which types of containers do you recommend? Have you ever repurposed old containers or fashioned your own? Please let us know! Photos you send may be posted here, with credit to you.
Gough, Robert and Cheryl Moore-Gough. The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing, 2011.