Thursday, January 28, 2010

Starting summer vegetables from seed!

    Garden centers will have lots of seedlings of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant at the proper planting time. But there may be unusual varieties you wish to grow. Starting seeds indoors can be a fun project. You may wish to save a little money, or make sure that your seedlings are organically grown.

    But the indoor environment is not ideal for vegetable plants.
    o Low light and lack of air movement cause plants to "stretch" and become leggy. There is the risk of attack by seedling diseases.
    o If you start your seeds too far ahead of outdoor-planting weather, they become very tall and undergo transplant shock when you finally move them out.

    Given these limitations, the following guidelines will help you succeed:

    When to plant

    o Start tomato seeds 6 to 8 weeks ahead of your outdoor planting time. We plant outside in late April or May here. Tomato seedlings sprout in about a week and grow very quickly.
    o Start pepper and eggplant seeds 10 to 12 weeks ahead of your outdoor planting time. We plant them outside in May here. These seeds sprout in 1 to 2 weeks and grow rather slowly.

    Planting by the calendar? Tomatoes grow faster, but can be planted out earlier. Peppers and eggplant grow slower, and require warmer soil outdoors. So February is the ideal month to start all of them here. Just be aware that you will hold your pepper and eggplant seedlings a few weeks longer than your tomatoes before putting them in the ground. March is ok; April is too late from seed.

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