Mailbag: We Answer Your Questions


We love to get emails and letters from our readers. Won’t you drop us a line? Email us at and we’ll get our team of experts on your questions right away!

Here are a few recent questions:

Q: What kinds of seeds should I not start indoors?

A: A very good and common question we get often. While it may be advantageous to start most seeds indoors to get a jump on the growing season, not all seeds can or should be started indoors. Some of it just boils down to personal preference.

Crops that grow underground, like potatoes, radishes, carrots, beets, and garlic, should not be started indoors. You can go ahead and plant them directly in the ground or in your beds or containers when the time is right. Onions and leeks can be started indoors, if using seed instead of slips or sets, so they are the exceptions to the rule. Onion and leek seeds should be started about 8-10 weeks in advance of transplant.

Herbs like dill and cilantro, do not tolerate transplant well at all, so they should be sown directly in their permanent locations rather than started indoors.

For warmer southern climates, you typically do not need to worry about starting squash, beans, pumpkin, and melon seeds indoors. You can usually direct-sow these crops after the last frost. However, for more northern climates or cold climates, you may wish to start these plants indoors a few weeks in advance and transplant them later.

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A few plants fall into the “maybe” category. Pea plants can be started indoors, but they typically like cold weather and can be planted directly outdoors when the soil is workable. The same goes for lettuce, arugula, and spinach. You can usually just wait to start those outside directly as soon as the weather cooperates and the soil can be worked. Some lettuce lovers like to start an early crop indoors to get an extra-early harvest, and that’s okay too.

Q: How do I make my own seed-starting soil?

A: There are many different recipes for making your own seed-starting soil. And of course, some are better than others. Some of it boils down to your personal preference, needs, and budget. A simple base “recipe” I like to use is 2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 1 part vermiculite. Some gardeners like to add in 1 part of screened compost to the mix.

Q: My indoor seedlings look weak and are falling over – What can I do?

A:  If your seedlings are getting tall and spindly, a few things may be happening. The room temperature may be too high or too low, the lighting may be too weak, or you may be using too much water. Transplanting leggy seedlings into a deeper container helps them to root deeper and grow better. When my seedlings reach about 3 inches, I put them into deeper pots with more soil. I sometimes have to repeat this process when they are around 6 inches tall. I like to use plastic party cups (throw-away cups like Solo brand) for this purpose.

Keep your questions coming! We love to hear from you.

Plant These Veggies NOW And Harvest In As Little As 25 Days!




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