EcoMuslim Guide To Planting From Seed - Indoors

A beginner's guide to growing vegetables and flowers from seed. There are six easy steps to growing plants indoors, to your garden. So...

A beginner's guide to growing vegetables and flowers from seed.

There are six easy steps to growing plants indoors, to your garden. Some plants can stay indoors permanently; for this guide, I'm describing how to start from a seed to the full crop outside.


The goal with seeds is to be ready according to their type. Look at the guidelines on the packets which should tell you when to start planting inside.

It will say something like 'sow from late Feb to early April', 'plant 4-6 weeks after the last frost'.

Remember-this is general guidance for your domestic plants like non-root vegetables and summer flowers. Some seeds have unique requirements and may need re-potting two times before being transplanted outdoors.

If you have a greenhouse or warm conservatory you can start as early as January, otherwise, most plants begin indoors around Feb-March. After this, they're planted in the ground outdoors in May-June.


You can start planting seeds in almost any container so long as it's a couple of inches deep and has holes for drainage.

I use leftover yoghurt tubs, the inner tube of toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, and even egg cartons.

This is fine for vegetables like peas and tomatoes that can be started off indoors. Flowers such as poppies, begonias, or sweetpea can also begin inside. If your seeds are perennials, this means they are meant to survive indefinitely after a slow start. The hard effort you put in at the beginning will pay off Insha-Allah (God willing).

Not everyone has plant-pots at home, but you can save your milk bottles, yoghurt pots, tins and even drinks cartons. Wash and dry and poke 4-8 small holes in the base. Voila, a free plant pot.

To create a cover you can use cling film, a glass sheet, bin liner, a tray or a cardboard cutout as a make-shift insulator.

If you do venture out during lockdown to buy containers, most seed trays come with a plastic cover to keep the moisture in.


Fresh compost is vital to new plants. Don't use soil from your garden or other houseplants. It's very important to start with fresh compost because the few nutrients contained in it will ensure healthy baby plants.

Buy a small bag from your local store-a little goes a long way-a grow bag works just as well especially for outdoor planting.


Fill your containers with compost to below the neck, and lightly water. This will settle the soil for easier sowing. Check your packet to see how deep you should plant the seeds.

Either mix the seeds with a little sifted soil or sand and scatter over the top (for herbs, tomatoes, strawberries) or push individual seeds (like okra and beans) about 1-2 cm deep, well-spaced out. For every 10cm pot you can sow two seeds (like beans or peas). This way if you have any duds, you can pick out the stronger plants.

Flower seeds (not bulbs) are best sprinkled on top and the strongest seedlings can also be picked out. Runner beans and tiny tomato seeds should be 4-5 cm apart or in individual modules to grow and can be repotted when they are 15-20 cm tall.

Finally, sift a layer of compost on top to hide the seeds and lightly water, label the pot and cover.


When you see the first sign of a green shoot, take the cover off for ventilation.

Water the plants by checking the moisture of the soil. Trays and small pots will need watering every second day and larger pots (or plug trays), every day. Once the plants have their first or second pair of leaves, feed with diluted fertiliser once every fortnight (follow the instructions). Fertiliser is important to tip the pH scale of the soil: some flower plants need acidic soil, some vegetables need alkaline.

Individual vegetable or flower feeds are a little different because they don't change the acidity of the soil. But they provide vital nutrients to support healthy fruit and vegetables. Don't use feed on these types of plants until they flower, otherwise, it will encourage more leaves to grow.

Repot the plants when they get to 12-15cm tall into larger containers. You'll see their roots fill up their first pot. Add enough compost to reach the first set of leaves and press down firmly to stabilise the stem.

Rotate the plants daily, because as my runner beans are kindly demonstrating, they grow towards the light!

Monitor and repeat their rotations for 2-4 weeks until your plants are sturdy, have several leaves and little offshoots between the stems. They are almost ready to be planted outside.


Gradually expose your plants to the weather and climate outdoors, so that they don’t experience 'transplant shock'. This process is called 'hardening off'.

Begin by sitting the pots outside a couple of hours each warm day from April onwards (usually when the frost has stopped). After 4-7 days gently pick out the seedlings from their pots using a wooden stick or your finger, and plant outside into the ground or large containers according to their requirements.

Example: my runner beans need vertical support and shady locations to grow.
Summer flowers can go straight into hanging baskets.

Mix the soil with good compost again and a plant feed (nitrogen/magnesium-based).

Water, read Salawat (Allahumma Salle `ala Muhammad), and repeat.

Hope that helps, all the best.

+ See some great animations for growing from seed to plant on Wikihow.


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