How to Get an Early Start on Your Spring Garden

Start seeds in a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.

Indoor Gardening

Here are some tricks to take advantage of sunny windowsills:

  • Start Seeds Indoors: By the time the soil is warm enough to plant seeds outdoors, you’ve already missed some growing time. By starting seed flats in a sunny window, you can have seedlings ready to transplant by the time the weather warms up.
  • Indoor Containers: Herbs and salad greens are easy to grow indoors in the winter, and you can simply snip off leaves as you need them. Indoor hydroponic systems go a step further to provide a sophisticated growing system for year-round vegetable harvests.

Greenhouses can provide year-round gardening.


If you’re dead-set on gardening year-round, and you live in areas with freezing winters, you’ll have to create an artificially heated environment for tender plants. A greenhouse is a great way to extend the gardening season, with several choices:

  • Unheated Greenhouse: Made of insulating glass or plastic, unheated greenhouses function like a large cold frame, giving only frost protection and few weeks’ head start.
  • Cool Greenhouse: Are minimally heated to keep temperatures above 40° F, allowing you to grow cool-season vegetables all winter long and to get a couple months’ head start on warm-season vegetables.
  • Warm Greenhouse: Hothouses keep temperatures above 50° F, allowing ambitious gardeners to grow summer veggies and herbs even in the dead of winter.

Further Information


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4 Comments on “How to Get an Early Start on Your Spring Garden”

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  • P K Tikku Says:
    May 5th, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    I try to grow Asian tropical Bottle Gourd here in MA by sowing seeds in April. ;Plants do come up but mostly they last a few weeks and die out often without going to three leaf stage. I always wonder how these Nurseries grow plants for weeks anD weeks and deliver us plants with bunch of leaves and when we open to transplant the container is full of roots spread in the entire soil. what is the secret? Or in other words my mistake. can someone help. Thanks.

  • Lori Says:
    January 1st, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Lower your lights to just above the plants. As the plants grow, raise the lights, but still keep them just an inch or two above the plants. Hanging the lights from adjustable chains works well.

  • Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    April 1st, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Hi David,
    You can find the answer to your question on our website at:Tall and Spindly Tomato Seedlings.

  • David Doyle Says:
    March 30th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    For two years, I’ve started tomato plants indoors in a plastic covered box about 6′ long by 2 1/2 ‘ wide and 3’ tall. I used 2 grow lights about 24″ above the pots. I start the plants from seed about 8 weeks before moving them to the garden. I keep the grow lights on about 12 hours a day. The problem is the plants get tall and spindly and are very fragile. Any ideas? Thanks

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How to Get an Early Start on Your Spring Garden