Babysitting – Seed Starting Update

This time of year I usually find myself babysitting hundreds of little seedlings waiting to go out into the garden. This year is no different, and since the wet spring weather has slowed down planting I probably have more babies than usual waiting in line. About half of them are indoors in the basement under fluorescent lights, while the rest have been moved out into the greenhouse.

light garden in April

light garden in April

I’ve kept the heat loving plants indoors, with the exception of a few tomato plants I started extra early hoping to beat the season a bit. Last year I had a terrible outbreak of aphids indoors, and they really did a number on the peppers and brassicas. This year I am happy to say I haven’t had any insect problems so far, other than a few fungus gnats which always show up. I put up yellow sticky traps and that seems to keep them under control. The peppers in the below photo were started on March 2nd, and I am happy with how they are growing. I’ll pot them up into individual containers in a couple of weeks.

pepper seedlings

pepper seedlings

I have about 80% of the seedlings started now. I got basil going yesterday, and that leaves squash and cucumbers, which I plan to start near the end of April. I have decided this is not going to be an early spring, so there’s no point in getting the cucurbits started too soon. I started the main crop of tomatoes on March 15th, so they are just shy of 3 weeks old. They too will go into individual pots in a couple of weeks, at which time the greenhouse will likely be full of flats! I aim to have the plant 6-8 weeks old before setting out, and they are right on schedule for an early to mid-May planting.

tomato seedlings at 3 weeks

tomato seedlings at 3 weeks

In the greenhouse I have the spring brassicas, petunias and some cold hardy herbs like parsley and fennel. We have freezing temperatures forecast for several night this week, so I will move the early tomatoes inside because I don’t want to risk them freezing. I may need to pot the brassicas up into individual pots if I have to delay planting much longer. There’s always plenty of gardening chores to do this time of year, even if it’s too wet to actually get out IN the garden!

broccoli and cabbage seedlings

broccoli and cabbage seedlings

The petunias are about 6 weeks old and I suspect some will be showing flower buds soon. The flat in the below photo is full of Wave types including Purple Classic Wave, Tidal Wave Red Velour, Tidal Wave Cherry, Tidal Wave Silver, and Easy Wave Pink Passion. I’m also growing the 2017 AAS Winner Evening Scentsation plus Easy Wave Plum Vein, which are in another flat.

Wave petunias

Wave petunias

I’m working on a greenhouse tour, since it’s been a while since I’ve shared what’s going on out there. I hope to get that together soon. Until then I hope you have enjoyed this update on my seed starting activities!

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7 Responses to Babysitting – Seed Starting Update

  1. Margaret says:

    This late spring is going to mean crowded conditions under the lights around here as well. Good thing I made the larger shelves this year – I’ll definitely be needing the extra space!

    Those peppers are positively huge, considering they were sown in March – I’m in awe! Maybe it’s my seeding mix but mine are still rather tiny. I’m not worried, though, as that’s how they are every year; they don’t generally take off until I pot them up, which will be happening at some point this week.

  2. Phuong says:

    Your seedlings look amazing, especially the peppers. It’s been such a cold spring, they’re actually predicting an inch of snow for Saturday. The last time it snowed here in April was 1983.

    We had a disaster with the peppers, so they’re either just germinating or just getting their true leaves.

  3. Sue Garrett says:

    A basement must be very useful for raising seeds and overwintering plants.

  4. Michelle says:

    Oh wow, I can’t believe how healthy and happy all your seedlings look! I’m just getting started sowing seeds so there’s flats on my heat mats but not much else to show for my efforts. At least I’ve been able to get out into the garden and clear out old stuff and get most of one bed ready for spring planting.

  5. Lorraine says:

    Dave, your plants all look amazing, happy, growing…strong and healthy! You have probably addressed this before so I apologize if I am asking a redundant question: What is your light system?? My husband and I are having a “discussion” 😉 about my lights. He wants to use LED’s and I am o.k. with the old fluorescent lights….as long as I have lights! How many and what do you use? I’m impressed with your plants, for sure!

    And…thanks for the pepper and tomato seed you sent. They are up and I am anxious to see how they do…especially the “Rogue”!

    • Dave says:

      Hi Lorraine, it’s good to hear the seeds are up and growing for you! I use all 4 foot fluorescent lights in my setup. The fixtures each have four T-12 bulbs, and I use a mix of cool white and warm white. Margaret (The Gardening Me) did a post recently on her light setup and she has a LOT of good info there too, you might check it out: http://www.thegardeningme.com/2018/02/brightening-things-up.html

      • Lorraine says:

        Wow! Thank you….I’ll head over to read her post. You obviously have good results. It helps to get input from those who have experience!

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