Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Starting Seeds Indoors 2012

For St. Patrick's Day we decided to go green by starting some seeds indoors.  Early March is a great time to start Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, and other warm weather crops that you want to have good-sized when the warm weather arrives in late May/June.  This ensures that you will have enough ripe tomatoes by the time fall comes around.  (Eek- I don't want to think about fall already!)

In 2011, we started our indoor seeds February 21st.  While we got great tomatoes, the starts got leggy and overwhelmed our dining room and we had to build some temporary greenhouses to move them out into and it was all a major annoyance.  So, we're hoping that by starting a few weeks later, the starts will be less leggy, but still far enough along to produce well this summer.  A warm and sunny spring wouldn't hurt either.

Another thing we did differently this year is use smaller pots to start our seeds.  In the past we've used old Starbucks cups.  This year we're trying egg cartons and yogurt cups.  I've found that the starts quickly get leggy and I need to bury them deeper in soil.  So, the plan is to let the seeds germinate and grow until the first true leaves after the cotyledons open.  Then, I'll transplant them into the larger Starbucks cups.  After they outgrow the Starbucks cups, they'll get transplanted into 1 gallon pots and hopefully into a temporary greenhouse outside.

Next year, I want to have a grow light system in the basement to get the starts out of the dining room.  I also hope to build a permanent greenhouse.  We'll make do for this year.

Seed List:
Tomato- Martino's Roma, Stupice, Heirloom Rainbow Blend, Legend, Gold Nugget, Oregon Spring, Saucey
Pepper- Pizza Pepper, Cal Wonder Bell, Hungarian Wax, Poblano-Ancho
Eggplant- Twilight Hybrid
Artichoke- Green Globe (new for us this year- so excited)
Herbs- Sweet Basil, Oregano, Cilantro
Flowers- Zinnias, Celosia, Lupine, Statice, Lavender, Larkspur

GROWING TIPS:  When starting your seeds a little later than recommended, it is key to make sure your seeds germinate quickly and the seedlings grow steadily.  Use a good potting mix and make sure your seedlings have a warm space with direct sunlight (or a grow light).  Keep the soil moist, but not too wet.  Be sure to add a liquid fertilizer to the water once the seedings get growing well.  Note:  Too much fertilizer and not enough sun will cause weak leggy stems.  Too little fertilizer will stunt your seedlings and they'll turn yellow.  Once your starts outgrow their pot, move them up into a larger pot with more soil space.  If the roots get too constricted, it'll stunt the plants and it'll be difficult to keep them watered.  Observation, patience, and persistence are good skills in this endeavor.  You'll learn quickly if you have a green thumb.

Happy Planting!

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