Yesterday Vidya set up a table by a large south window and bought some seed starting mix at the local Co-op. It is that time of year for starting seeds that need an early jump.
This means peppers, because they are very slow and need to be started weeks before tomatoes in order to be ready at the same time. Also the early tomato because we grow that into a larger pot, not just the 48 or 32 to a flat for regular seedlings, they will be in 6-8″ pots by the time they go under cloches.
I’m trying some snapdragons which need started now as they are slow germinators and get planted out early. While there are a lot of snaps that can more easily be bought from some retailer, these are worth starting because in theory they are fragrant, which makes them an exception amongst snaps.
We frequently get disappointed by plants billed to be fragrant,which may have to do with soil type and all the rain we usually get. Too much rain dilutes fragrance for most plants in my experience. It takes a little adversity to develop character, even with fragrant plants. So even though I am pessimistic the snaps will be fragrant, I try nonetheless hoping to find a gem.
We like the Italia sweet pepper best for taste and that variety is never seen at the retailers due mostly, I suspect, to its low yielding. When we used to do Farmer’s Markets it was worth it to start all our plants. Now it would certainly be less trouble to just buy them, but because we are fussy about varieties we still take the trouble.
The table by the window is sufficient for now and saves using the greenhouse until heating it is less of a demand, but at some point we will move. But for now it is nice to have things under eye, right where we walk by it all the time.
We start a lot of seeds in a small box, then when they get the first set of true leaves prink them on into cells in flats, so initially the space requirement is low. We use an waterproof electric heating pad under the starts as soil temperature is more important than air temperature and that helps pop them up. Once they sprout they move off the pad so even on a small pad, one or two flat size, you can start a lot of stuff.
8 boxes to a flat = 8 different things started at once. There is a succession of starting times so something is always coming off the germination mat and being replaced with something new.
As soon as I finish writing this I will go through my newly arrived seed orders and sort the seeds in various categories for easy access later. Things that need to be started now, things to be started indoors in a few weeks, and seeds that can be planted before last frost date like spinach, beets, peas, carrots, lettuce, kohlrabi and fava beans for example.
The when it is time to plant I grab the appropriate bag of seeds and don’t need to sort through everything.
I already have some spinach in cold frames that came up last fall and will be ready to pick by April 1st. Or at least in a normal winter — as mild as this one is who knows when it will be ready, could be much earlier. I will plant lettuce out also in cold frames soon.