Raising transplants indoors can take extra effort and can have associated costs, but sometimes it is worthwhile. The payoff in yield from crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can be significant.
|➤We should start off by saying it is usually easiest to DIRECT SEED most plants, if possible. Direct seeding is easy and efficient, and you will not have to dedicate extra time, space, or resources to the additional processes associated with raising transplants indoors. That being said…|
➤RAISING TRANSPLANTS indoors is preferable in certain cases. “This method will extend the growing season; prevent seed loss from birds, animals, frost heaves, and heat waves; and increase your odds of success in sowing seeds with special requirements, e.g. by allowing for better control of planting depth (and thus better germination) of tiny seeds.” (Gough)
In Southern Nevada, it is advisable to start warm season crops like tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers indoors before transplanting them out after the last frost.
|➤PLAN AHEAD, BE PREPARED!
To successfully raise transplants indoors, you will need adequate space, enough containers, a good growing medium, the right lighting, proper temperatures (climate control,) water, and various supplies, as well as the ability to assemble everything. Once you combine all of these inputs to create a suitable environment for your transplants, you will need to maintain that environment for however long is required by the given plants. Remember, transplants grow larger over time, so consider beforehand how much space, soil, etc. they will ultimately need.
|➤POOL RESOURCES AND WORK TOGETHER
Someone who wants to grow tomatoes in a home garden may not always be the same person with the desire or resources to create and maintain a system for starting transplants indoors. It helps to discuss the possibilities with others and to pool resources and responsibilities. An indoor shelf or two can support the growth of enough transplants to fill many average-size gardens. Everything from seeds, supplies, and equipment to available space and free time can be pooled or swapped.
Time-consuming transplant-growing responsibilities can even be divided chronologically, like passing along a baton in a relay race. For example, one person (perhaps someone with limited space and poor indoor lighting) can “plant sit” during the germination stage, another (possibly someone equipped with heating mats and lights) can watch over the plants in the seedling stage, still another (someone with a covered patio) can be responsible for hardening off the transplants, and yet another (someone with a large vehicle) can distribute the seedlings when they are ready to be planted.
Gough, Robert and Cheryl Moore-Gough. The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds. North Adams, Massachusetts: Storey Publishing, 2011.