Easy Indoor Lettuce Seed Starting
I'm a big fan of upcycling and reducing waste, so it's only natural that when I wanted to get serious about indoor seed starting, I looked around the house first for supplies. Aside from purchasing some LED grow lights, everything else I already had on hand, which made for an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to start some lettuce seeds.
Items needed for indoor seed starting:
Containers to grow seeds in
LED grow lights or a sunny window
Shelf to keep your seedlings on
You do not need fancy pots to grow seeds in; I have used lettuce containers in the past with holes drilled at the bottom for drainage, and today I'm using toilet paper rolls! The great thing about using toilet paper rolls is that they will naturally biodegrade, so when you transplant them, they will naturally compost right in the dirt. I am also using some old seed trays I've had for a few years. Please note, when using old pots it is a good idea to rinse them out. If you grew anything last season that developed powdery mildew or rot (think tomato plants) it's important to wash out those pots when reusing so that your new plants are less likely to pick up any disease. Before running out to buy new pots, check your recycling bin first for inspiration! Yogurt cups also make great pots.
Once you have your containers accounted for, it's time to find a sunny spot in the house or set up your grow lights. There are so many options for grow lights and it really depends on what your set up is. My mother was able to find a grow light light bulb at her local hardware store, and I found strips of lights that plug in with a timer online that we attached to the shelving. Lettuce needs a good amount of sun, so a sunny window with 6 hours of sun or a grow light will do. I am going to set my grow lights for 8 hours to start, and can adjust as needed so the plants don't get stringy. For the shelving, my husband upcycled an old metal shelving unit that was missing the original shelves. We saved some wood flooring pieces from the dumpster when we did the house renovation last year, and he cut those pieces to fit perfectly to create basic shelving. The LED lights were screwed under the wood slats so each shelf has some light.
The final items you'll need are dirt, seeds, and water. I saved some lettuce seeds from last year and got a couple of new lettuce seed packets for Christmas, so I didn't need to purchase any new seeds. I also had a bag of leftover dirt from last year. If you want to use last season's dirt, be sure to bring it inside ahead of time so it has a chance to thaw. All our dirt was frozen in the greenhouse. We brought the dirt inside the basement a couple of weeks ago so it was ready to go for this project. I had an old spray bottle to use when watering seeds. If you have a spray bottle or mister, that is a more gentle way to water seeds. Once the seeds sprout, a regular watering can will do. The goal is the have the dirt be moist but not soaked. Check on your dirt regularly to see if it needs more water.
Now it's time to get planting! If you want to start off small, I recommend a couple of containers in a sunny window, or a self-watering planter with dirt or hydroponic planter. I will be setting up both of these other options upstairs in the house as well and will see which does the best! I am excited to get some homegrown lettuce and continue my homesteading adventures.