Get a jump start on summer vegetables and herbs by starting your seeds indoors. It’s pretty easy and cheaper than buying transplants at garden centers. Some supplies you need to start your seeds are: a grow light, a potting medium and seeds.

First, there are two different lights you can use for growing plants. You can get a long fluorescent grow light with a holder or get a portable light holder with a clip. You can find either of these at a hardware store. Make sure you buy a lightbulb labeled for plants.

Once you find your light, you’ll need to pick a seed starting tray or seed starting soil and cups. The seed starting trays are usually the easiest. They have soil pellets in the tray that expand when water is added to them. If you don’t want a seed starting tray, you can buy a soil growing medium and use it in a peat pot or small plastic container. Now comes the fun part:  picking which seeds you’d like to start inside.

When starting your seeds, you’ll need to plant them in your seed tray or soil medium. Place the light directly over them, only about 4 to 6 inches from the top of the tray or container.  Once they start to sprout, you should slowly move the light upwards. The seeds need to start with about 16 hours of light a day. Once they start to get bigger and stronger, you can decrease the amount of light and closeness of the lightbulb.

Once outside temperatures warm up, you’ll need to “harden” the seedlings off. This means taking them outside for a few hours a day and bringing them in at night. It’s a process that helps the plants become acclimated to the outdoors; they need to get used to wind and sunlight. Slowly increase the plants’ time outside and exposure to sun. This will help them become stronger and bigger.

When mid-April rolls around, you should be ready to plant your veggies and herbs outside. Happy gardening and growing!

Find out more by contacting the DeKalb County UGA Extension Office.

Sarah E. Brodd is a Natural Resource Agent for UGA Extension in DeKalb County.