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Starting Seedlings Indoors

I’m am fortunate to have two areas in our house with corner windows facing both south and west. This means almost all day sun for my vegetable garden seedlings.

While it’s not necessary to start all plants indoors (I don’t bother with most early season crops like peas, beets or lettuce for example), this year I am expanding our vegetable repertoire into many new areas.

Vegetables that like long, hot summers like tomatoes and peppers should be started the earliest. As my father supplies me with all the tomato plants I need from his greenhouse, my first seedlings this year were yellow and red peppers. I started these on March 23. Here they are on April 15.

Seedlings_Peppers

Since I thought it would be easier, I purchased those little peat pellets and a mini greenhouse to start my seedlings again this year. While the peppers sprouted well, onions planted the same day barely germinated. Since onions are a cool season crop, I reseeded some onions on April 4 directly in a salad container, with holes poked in the bottom for drainage. This worked way better with 100% germination and since the container is fairly deep I do not need to worry about transplanting the little peat pellets. Next year I’ll do all my indoor seeds this way. The pots are free and the lids, covered in plastic wrap, create a great greenhouse effect. When the seeds sprout, just cut off the lid.

The last of the seeds I started indoors were started on April 11. This included Sugar Pumpkin, Birdhouse Gourds, Kohlrabi and Sweet and Purple Basil.

Plant out date for me is usually the end of May. Depending on how warm it is, I may even hold off planting out the peppers until early June.

Last year we found that some plants seeded early did not really produce significantly before those planted two to three weeks later. The reasons for this may be the delay in development while the seedlings adapt to any transplant shock as well as slower development in vegetable production just because of the cold weather. As an experiment, I plan on direct sowing some more pumpkin, gourds and Kohlrabi when I transplant my seedlings and keeping good records of how and when the plants grow and when I can harvest the vegetables. If I find there is no real difference in these long-season vegetables, I won’t bother starting them early next year.

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