How to Start Seeds Indoors, Grow Your Own Food & Save Money

Cassandra Smet
by Cassandra Smet

On our homestead, we're into growing our own food to save money. This time of year, ​​I'm getting excited about our 2023 garden. We're starting some seeds, and I'm going to show you how to start seeds indoors. I'll also be showing you my seed setup.

Heat mats

The initial investment

I got four heat mats, and the cool thing about these is it has the seeds, the temperature, and then how many days it takes to germinate that way. 

It's not like you're going, oh, I planted this watermelon three days ago. Something should be happening. This tells you it takes five days for anything to start happening, so I like these. I have one up on the shelf. These were $50 for a pack of four heat mats. 

I'm investing in my seed setup this year, so the next thing I got was a pack of six grow lights. I already have some of these set up. These were super easy to set up, too. They come with the plugins, and you can attach them. So all six lights all string together; they're all on one switch.

You could set them up separately so you can control lights for different plants, seeds, and things like that if you want to. These weren't expensive either, but like I said, it was an investment. I think the lights, the heat mats, and the shelf I ordered were around $150 or so. 

Seeds can be expensive, but it's cheaper than buying starts. If we're going to be doing seeds every year, it's better to invest in a nice setup to give our seeds the best chance. I also got a shelf from Amazon that was about $65. 

Setting up the heat mats

My setup

Here's one of our heat mats out and in use. 

We've got two of our grow lights on the top here. My original plan was to hang them from racks. I still could; I would need to get some wire or something to wrap around the lights to hang it. This is working for now because I'm only starting peppers today. So this is my little setup. 

Burpee greenhouse kit

I like the Burpee seed cells and use a 72-cell greenhouse kit. 

They have larger ones, but I'm not starting that many seeds today, so this will be perfect for us. I like this because it's a minimal mess. I have to do it in my house, so I don't want to drag dirt and stuff in here. 

Using the greenhouse kit

I'm going to open the greenhouse kit, and let's start. The greenhouse kit is really simple and easy to use. All you have to do is unwrap it, and then you'll see it has little dehydrated soil cube circle things in here. All you have to do is dump some water on them, and they rehydrate. I think this is my second or third year using these. 

So I have a pitcher here, just like a regular lemonade pitcher. I filled it with lukewarm water. I will drop some water in each cell to rehydrate the soil. Give it a minute; let it get fluffy. 

I start slowly with water because you can always add more water. Once the water is there, it's there. 

Setting up the seed starting kit

I'll fluff the soil up with a fork if I need to. 

I like these a lot more than a traditional soil block method. Just right now, in my season of life, it's a lot less messy. 

Start the seeds 

I will start with my broccoli because I know I want at least twelve, so I will get those planted first. I don't need as many broccoli plants as I'm going to need cauliflower plants because broccoli plants produce side shoots, whereas cauliflower, once you cut the head, you have to pull the plant because it's not going to produce anything after that.

So I'm just going to drop my broccoli seeds right in these. I'm putting two seeds per cell just because these are older seeds. These are seeds I have left over from last year. 

I will move on to my bell peppers next—so same thing. I'm going to do nine bell pepper plants. 

How to grow your own food

I'm going to put two seeds per cell. 

I'm pretty sure that's what we had last year, and that produced a year's worth of peppers for us. 

Now I'm going to plant three of these Poblano peppers. I've never grown these before, and these are just something fun. I figure these would be nice stuffed peppers, but also for enchilada sauce and stuff. 

I only have three yellow pepper seeds left over from last year. So I will put two in a cell and one in a cell. Hopefully, those will germinate. 

I have the Big Jims here. I just purchased these. I'm going to do, I think, four of these—same thing. I'm putting two seeds per cell. These are new seeds. 

I think the only thing left I have are cayenne peppers. I did one more cell with these Big Jim peppers just because I think we're going to want more of those. I'm only planting these cayenne peppers for sweet and spicy pickles. I will fill the rest of my cells with these cayenne pepper seeds. 

Foods you start from their seeds

After planting

Next, I can put these on the heat mats, turn on my grow lights, put the top on it for our greenhouse effect, and we're good to go. 

I've never used the mats before, so I'm just going to read right on the growing mat what temperature these are supposed to be on. Broccoli and peppers, that's what I have in here, wants it to be 70 to 80 degrees. 

How to start seeds indoors

So I'm just going to set my seeds on top of this, and then I'm going to turn on the grow light, and just like that, we're done. 

So our first seeds have been started for the 2023 garden, which is exciting. 

How to start seeds indoors

Thanks to our little greenhouses, it will be a great year for our garden. Do you use seed starting kits? Share what you're growing this year in the comments below.

Join the conversation