While the gardening days of summer are still months away, it will soon be time to begin planting seeds indoors. Starting your seeds indoors will help you get a head start on planting season, so you’ll be ready to get back out into the garden when the ground begins to thaw.

1. Stock up on containers

The first thing you’ll want to do before starting seeds indoors is stock up on containers. It’s also important to buy the right containers to ensure planting success! Consider a seed-starting tray using Jiffy Pots or Jiffy pellets, which can then be planted directly into the ground with the seeds.

2. Get the right growing medium

It’s important to make sure your seeds and seedlings are getting the right nutrients when they first begin to germinate. Get a seed-starting potting mix for the best results and avoid using any of the soil from your garden or from your indoor plants. Make sure to moisten the growing medium before you plant the seeds in the pots.

3. Find a well-lit area

One of the most important factors when starting your seeds indoors is to ensure that they receive plenty of light at the appropriate leaf stage. (Note that some seeds germinate better in darkness, such as Delphinium, Pansy, and Viola.) After germination occurs, ensure that your containers are located near a south-facing window to get as much light as possible. Do not place container in direct sunlight until seedlings have 2 to 3 sets of leaves or they may be burned by the sun and heat. If you don’t have access to such a window, consider a grow light and a timer. Providing 15 hours of light a day will help keep your seedlings from becoming leggy.

4. Get the timing right

When starting seeds indoors, timing is essential. Most seed packets will tell you when you can begin to start the seeds inside. If you plant too early, you’ll risk the plants outgrowing their indoor pots; too late, and you won’t be getting the most out of your plants for the entirety of the season.

5. Harden seedlings off

If you start seeds indoors, the seedlings will become used to indoor growing conditions. When it’s time to transplant them, we recommend hardening them off. You can do this by moving the pots or trays outside into a protected area for a few hours each day, about a week before they are ready for planting. Gradually expose them to more sun and wind over the course of the week. If you have a cold frame, this is an ideal area for hardening off seedlings.

If you’re a beginner gardener, or just new to starting seeds indoors, try the seed starting kit from OSC Seeds — it has everything you need to get a head start on the growing season!