It’s probably about time for an update on my seed starting activities this year, for those who are interested in such things. I kicked off the season back in early February, starting seeds for parsley, cilantro, arugula, spinach, lettuce and kale. A couple of week later I started some seeds for Asian greens (mizuna, komatsuna and tatsoi), broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and chard plus a bit more kale. At this point all those things have been transplanted into larger containers and some have even been planted out (spinach and lettuce) in the greenhouse and cold frame beds. The rest are still under lights or hanging out on the greenhouse shelves.
In early March (3/3 to be exact) I started seeds for peppers and eggplant in a 200-cell plug flat, which is my favorite way to start large numbers of seeds. To be sure, I don’t need 200 pepper and eggplant seedlings for my own use but some of these plants will go to the Impact Community Garden plus some will go to friends. Of course not all the seeds will sprout either, though so far a good percentage of them have come up. I set this plug flat on a heating mat kept on 24 hours a day, under fluorescent lights kept on around 16 hours a day.
Pepper and eggplant seeds both like a lot of heat to germinate, and I usually get great results with this setup. The germination times do vary wildly though. The first pepper seeds were up in about 6 days (Anaheim), with the last one showing signs of life at 13 days (Ancho 211). Sometimes pepper seeds will take even longer to break their dormancy. The eggplant seeds all came up in 7-9 days. Without the heating mat, germination times and rates for these heat-lovers is pretty spotty, at least it is in our chilly basement where I have my fluorescent lights set up.
After that, I started seeds for things like petunias, more arugula and lettuce, celery, some leaf amaranth, and finally another 200-cell plug flat of tomato seeds. How do I know all these specific dates I started everything? The answer is easy: I keep records, these days in a spreadsheet. The information is invaluable to me in keeping track of the garden. I use a spreadsheet because I like the tabular format and the ability to view it on my computer, but paper and pencil records work well too. I recently found some notes about my 1981 garden that were stuck in an old book. It was fun to see what I was growing way back when!
I refer to my Seed starting and Planting Schedule to know when to start everything. I’ve developed this schedule based on my own observations and experiences over the years, with some input from the local experts. I am thinking this year I will be running a bit behind last year in getting things planted outside, due to the weather. Right now the ground is too wet to work, and more sleet, freezing rain and snow is coming down. Winter just doesn’t want to quit! But eventually it will moderate, and I plan on having plants ready to go as soon as weather permits.
That’s a look at one of my big projects right about now – seed starting. It keeps me busy, but I do enjoy it. Of course after a couple more months of babysitting lots of seedlings, I’ll be ready for something else! I hope you enjoyed this update, and thanks for stopping by the virtual home of Happy Acres.