I seriously cannot express the joy I feel when my vegetable seedlings start poking out of the soil! The only other time I get as excited is when I see my first signs of actual vegetables on my plants. Even though it is still supposed to get down to 30 degrees this week in Pittsburgh, the dawn of full-on spring is on the horizon! And the 70 degree weather we had last weekend kicked my butt into gear to get my vegetable seeds going.
I started my tomato and pepper seeds indoors last Sunday, April 12th. As you can see below I used seed germinating mix from Gardeners Supply Company (http://www.gardeners.com/buy/germinating-mix/03-199.html) along with yogurt containers with holes poked in the bottom and old plastic plant pots. I have never used this germinating mix before, so as per the directions, I moistened the soil in a separate container before filling the individual containers.
Now, I have tried a lot of different ways to start seeds indoors, but I keep coming back to my old standby… Just sticking them in pots with seed-starting soil in front of a big window and watering from above with a spray bottle at first and then with a little watering can when the seedlings get bigger. I also use a heat mat under the plants because my 100-year old house is very drafty.
I have tried a lot of different methods for seed starting… With the germination domes, I usually have moisture / ventilation issues. I have had some success with the self-watering / bottom watering systems, but the germination seems to take longer, and I’m impatient. I have also tried a “grow” light, but I put that in quotations because it was actually just a work light, so that may have been why it didn’t work so well. I can say that I definitely do not like the peat pellets. They seem to either be extremely soggy or bone dry and I don’t like having to pot up my seedlings. Also, despite the claims, the netting does not seem to fully disintegrate into the ground after planting them because I am still picking some out of my garden from previous years.
But back to THIS year. My tomato and pepper seeds are from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). I always like to try new varieties that I have never grown before and this year is no exception! Iraqi tomatoes and Polish peppers, oh my…
For tomatoes, I like to plant determinate varieties. This means they will only grow to a certain compact height. I do this because I have very limited space in my raised beds. One year, I grew an indeterminate German heirloom tomato plant and it literally grew to the size of a small tree! A metal pole could not even keep it standing upright and ultimately it fell over and crushed a bunch of plants! Although it was quite a sight to see, it was a complete disaster.
This year, I am growing Rutgers Tomatoes, which are a fairly common heirloom, but hey, they are new to me! I am also growing Al-Kuffa tomatoes which are from Iraq of all places. It is a compact / dwarf plant that produces tomatoes that are slightly larger than a cherry tomato.
For my peppers, I am growing two varieties that are imported from Poland! I am 50% Polish and very proud of my Polish heritage. The one is called Ostra-Cyklon and it is a paprika type of pepper with a little heat to it. The other is a Marta Polka Pepper which is a yellow bell pepper that is tolerant of poor growing conditions (Western PA weather can be crazy unpredictable!). Both should be excellent when sauteed with pierogies! I am also growing Santa Fe Grande Peppers which are spicy and will be perfect in my homemade salsa!
This is also the first year that I am growing Marigold flowers from seed to include in my garden beds. I read that Marigolds will attract bees to the garden.
I have to admit, I was getting impatient with my peppers and carefully dug a little down in the soil to see if there was any action going on. I think I may have planted the seeds too deeply because, after reading the seed packets more carefully, it said to barely cover them with soil to encourage quicker germination and I probably had them about ¼ inch deep.
BUT it does appear that all of my seeds have germinated! I know, I know, I am a very talented individual (and modest too, hehe!). Unfortunately, I always grow way too many plants, and that’s how I end up with wild jungle-like raised beds. This year I *promise* not to jam them all in there!
From seed to seedling to plant to veggies to… fork to belly! Can’t wait!