Starting Seeds Indoors

It can be very helpful in our colder climate to get a jump on the growing season by starting our seeds indoors.

Seeds are amazing things. They don’t need much to get started. You will need some seed compost, containers, a bit of water and a good location in your home with bright, indirect light.

Seed Compost

Seeds come packed with all the nutrients they need to get themselves going, so we don’t need to start with a heavy, nutrient rich soil. In fact, doing so could actually ‘burn’ tender little seedlings. Our seeds will need compost that is light and easy for the new roots to form in and will retain moisture without being too soggy. The basic recipe is 3 parts: one part being a loam (soil) of some sort for nutrients and structure (if using your backyard soil, make sure to pasteurize it first), one part horticulture or builder’s sand to create looseness and drainage, and one part of well rotted leafmould, coconut choir, or heat-treated rice husks to help retain consistent moisture and provide even more spaces for roots to spread.

Whatever seed compost mixture you end up using, please make sure it is peat free. You can read more about the importance of peat to our environment in the Friends of the Earth’s guide: Why peat is good for the climate and nature.


I like to start my seeds off in recycled containers. The possibilities are endless for this, but the more popular options include newspaper pots, toilet paper roll pots, and egg cartons. Benedict Vanheems of Grow Veg has put together an excellent video on these options as well as a short note on how to plant your seeds in them: Seed Sowing Using Recycled Containers.


When planting your seeds you should make sure to add water to your seed compost before planting. The compost should be damp without being soggy with a consistency much like a damp sponge. After planting your seeds, make sure to keep the soil damp to help them germinate.


Lastly, find a location in your house that is bright with indirect sunlight. Make sure it is in a place where you will see your seeds often so you remember to water them!

Helpful Links

RHS Vegetable Seeds: Sowing
RHS Seed: sowing indoors
Grow Veg: How to Make the Best Potting Mix for Starting Seeds