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My Favourite Products for Growing Indoors

Updated: Mar 21

Are you hoping to try to grow food indoors year round or to start your own seeds indoors in the spring? I love having plants growing inside even when the snow is flying outdoors! Here I will share with you my seed starting setup. Here are the products I use for starting seeds indoors with grow lights and for growing vegetables and herbs indoors through the winter in zone 3 Alberta.

Seed starting setup. Starting seeds indoors with grow lights and and indoor greenhouse is easy, even in zone 3 Calgary, Alberta!

I normally begin planting things like snapdragons and tomatoes in my house near the end of January. (Get my Free Printable Seeding Chart.) In zone 2b/3a Alberta where I live, starting plants indoors in a necessity if you want to grow plants yourself from seed.

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Grow Lights for Starting Seeds

Previously, I started seeds indoors without using grow lights, just a sunny window inside. Although I did successfully start seeds indoors without grow lights, the seedlings ended up quite leggy and weak. I ended up purchasing an indoor greenhouse and grow lights from Amazon and wow! What a difference that made. My plants have been stronger, healthier and grow much more quickly. It took at least 2 weeks off the total growing time needed to be ready to go outdoors in May. (Find my seed starting dates here.)

Seed starting setup for starting seeds indoors in Canada.  A person planting seeds in her kitchen indoors.

The exact grow lights I have are no longer available but were very similar to these ones on Amazon. I found they were not quite strong enough and have since ended up switching the the more expensive Barrina ones. I have been very happy with the Barrina grow lights.

Light Timer for Grow Lights

Using a timer for your grow lights, set to be on for 14 to 16 hours a day, makes consistent lighting super easy! Definitely well worth the purchase. I have this 2 pack of Christmas light timers. They are super easy to program and have been working great for me for 4 years.

Mini Greenhouse for Starting Seeds

An indoor greenhouse is helpful for seed germination if you don't have covers for your germination trays. I have also used my mini greenhouse it to grow herbs and vegetables all through the winter! (Before I upgraded to my hydroponic growing system.) I find seeds germinate so much quicker inside the indoor greenhouse because of the higher humidity and heat inside it.

These lights and this indoor greenhouse work well together! Especially for germinating seeds. When germinating I close up the zipper front of the greenhouse and as the plants mature I open up the zipper front of my enclosed greenhouse and then eventually remove the cover all together. The mini greenhouse can also be used for hardening off plants.

A vegetable garden journal for recording dates for starting seeds indoors.

Do I Need a Heat Mat for Starting Seeds?

I have never used a heat mat for seeds and have had great germination rates. If your seedlings will be in an are less than 20 degrees Celsius (68F) you may want to invest in a heat mat to provide bottom heat for germinating seeds. Another option is to set them on top of your refrigerator where it is warm.

A tray like this works perfectly underneath the greenhouse to catch water.

I have been using this set up for 4 years now and love it! I normally have it set up where the plants also get some sunlight through the window. If you do that, be careful it doesn't get too hot inside if it is zipped up. I have used this setup for growing through the winter as well. I did find the greens grew slowly and wasn't sure it was worth the effort. Since then I have switched to a hydroponic grow tower for growing food indoors in the winter.

2023 Seed Starting Setup Update

Although I loved the setup I had, I kept running out of space. This year I have added a second 4 foot metal shelf for plants. It does not have a cover which allows for better airflow and and the use of a fan to strengthen seedlings. I will continue to use my indoor greenhouse for geminating and then plan to move them to this plant shelf.

Seed starting setup for growing seedlings indoors in zone 3 Calgary Alberta Canada

After some research, I decided to go with lights sold as "shop lights" instead of "grow lights". The reasons are:

  1. Studies show they work just as well as grow lights.

  2. They are generally much less expensive than grow lights.

When using shop lights as grow lights look for ones that are:

  • LED

  • 5000 lumen or more

  • Provide "white" light

These LED lights from Amazon are a great option and very similar to the ones I have that I picked up at Costco. I love that they are linkable making them easy to set up on the metal shelving.

Tip: Always make sure your grow lights are the same length as your shelves.

Mare sure you check out How to Grow Plants from Seed for details on seeds, soil, pots and more. You will also want to make sure you know what seeds to start indoors and what seeds to direct sow in your garden.

You can find my full Amazon store of items I use for starting seeds here.


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