It’s seed starting time again here at Happy Acres. For this latest batch I sowed seeds for the spring planted brassicas, including broccoli, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi. I also started another flat of lettuce, with a few other greens like tatsoi, pac choi and napa cabbage mixed in as well. I used a 128 cell plug flat for the lettuce, and 72 cell flats for the brassicas. I try and sow two seeds per cell and then thin to a single plant if both come up, unless the seeds are expensive or in short supply, then I limit it to one per cell.
I’m trying a couple of new (to me) broccoli varieties this year, Belstar and Bay Meadows. They will join two varieties that usually do well for me here in spring, Packman and Green Magic. I’m also going to try and get the plants out a bit earlier than last year, though the weather may have a lot to say about that. Spring rains here often make it hard to get things planted, and last year we had 14.5 inches of rain during the months of March and April which kept the soil soggy and hard to work. Our weather also usually heats up fast in spring, which makes broccoli and other cool weather loving veggies a challenge to grow.
I’ve been re-reading The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel. I often use this book as reference, but I decided to do a quick read on it again. It’s chock-full of seed starting information, and I was particularly interested in the soil temperature conditions for seed germination. According to the author, the optimum range for cabbage family seed germination is between 45-95°F. I don’t use heat mats for starting the brassica seeds indoors, and the soil temp in my cool basement was running at 67°F yesterday. At that temperature the seeds began emerging in three days, with most sprouting up by the fourth day.
The lettuce and arugula I started back in early February has mostly been planted now. I planted some in a mini salad box in the greenhouse. The salad boxes give us a nice supply of salad greens, and as a matter of fact I cut some this past week. I planted a mix of varieties, including Red Tinged Winter, Jester, Baby Oakleaf, Simpson Elite and Outstanding. I’ll set a few of the plants in a cold frame bed later when I can get a spot worked up for them. The ones in the above photo were sown on 2/3, and they have made nice growth in that short period of time.
I hope you have enjoyed this update on my 2016 seed starting activities. Next up will be pepper seeds, and I’m working on the list now. I can tell you one thing, I have too many pepper varieties I want to grow this year! Oh well, moderation is not one of my strong suits, so I will start lots of peppers and hope I can find room for them all. They do well in containers, so I will likely plant quite a few that way.
I have a similar problem with chilli seeds – I have about 65 or 70 varieties, and I can only reasonably afford the space to grow about 20 or 25 plants. I will be sowing mine mid-March. The day after I sowed my Cabbage seeds the weather turned really cold, so they have not germinated yet.
I have a few less peppers than you, about 50-55 varieties. I have room in the garden for 52 plants, but I have a few favorites and I want to grow more than one of those varieties.
Dave, I think you will enjoy this chart of seed germination rates and time vs. temperature. It is dense with information so spend some time with it.
BTW his entire site is very interesting although it is quite old. The way to navigate from from the index is by clicking on the ‘thumbs up’.
Thanks for the tip on the seed starting book. Ordered today.
fwiw, in 2014 I posted a couple of tables of seed germination times and temperatures, as well as the freeze-out temperature of each plant. The sig link leads directly to that post.
I’ll not be sowing any brassicas for at least a month or so, but my peppers have already been started. It’s still a bit early to see any pop up in the cell packs, but that doesn’t stop me from checking on them a few times a day. I’m limiting most varieties to only 1 or 2 plants, so that I can squeeze as many in as possible. My track record with pots is not that great. It would be nice to grow a few more peppers in containers but since I’m already trying out a few other things in pots, I holding back on that for now.
Reading this has me eager to get growing. I sowed some onion seeds this week and hope to start my peppers soon. I can’t wait to see what varieties of peppers you decide to grow this year.
50-55 varieties?! Wow. It’s great when you have the space as I also do – if you start too many plants, you can always throw a few into containers!
Interesting to see the differences based on zone. My onions are planted, up and under grow lights. Next to be started is kale mid-March, then peppers and broccoli the end of March, a month after yours. I unfortunately don’t have the flexibility of a greenhouse. And you have a pepper obsession, which I endorse.