preparing for the summer garden

Well, the tomatoes and peppers for my summer garden are on their way. I started my seeds about 2 weeks ago and just thinned them down to 2 plants per pot. I like to start mine in 3 to 4 inch pots  because, in my personal experience, transplanting the seedlings only stunts their growth.

how-to-start-tomato-and-pepper-seeds-indoors-lola-rugula

I start them in pots with a base of potting soil, topped off with a good 2 inches of seed starter mix. Seed Starter is a lighter soil mix that’s perfect for starting seeds. I have a little 4-level greenhouse with a zipper cover that I place the trays of pots in and place them by one of our huge sets of sunny windows.

Once the seeds have sprouted and reached about 2 inches in height, I thin them them down to 2-3 plants per pot. Once they’ve really reached a size and strength I’m comfortable with, then I thin them down to 1.  I also then unzip the cover and let them get regular air, as this helps strengthen the plants.

I admit I tend to do a mix of heirloom plants and hybrid plants since we live in a pretty wooded area and sometimes my plants need a little more stability than just the heirloom varieties provide.  As much as I’d love to do all heirloom plants, I’ve discovered through many years of gardening, a mix usually provides me with the best results. I do, however, try and make sure that the seeds I purchase are non-GMO. I try not to support Monsanto whenever possible.

When the springtime finally arrives and, believe me, I can’t wait, I take the entire greenhouse outside and, leaving the cover on, but unzipped, let it sit for another week or two. Then, I remover the cover and let it sit another 2 weeks before finally transplanting into the ground. This process is called “hardening off” and helps make your plants more resilient to real elements they’re going to encounter outside.

Just a side note – make sure you always put a marker with the plant name in your pots so, if one or more of them doesn’t sprout, you know what you need to re-plant. Also, I do recycle a lot of my old pots, but only after washing them really well and then letting them soak, fully immersed, in a solution of bleach and water. You have to be really careful when reusing pots, as you can transfer diseases to your newly-sprouted plants.

Is anyone else starting their garden seeds? I also have some peppers, eggplants and herbs going. This time of year always gets me excited for my summer gardens.

Have I mentioned how much I love digging in the dirt?

10 thoughts on “preparing for the summer garden

  1. I only plant flowers (never started from seedlings) and I miss the feel of warm sun and dirt like a kid misses her mom while she’s at summer sleepaway camp. Yesterday my daughter and I had our faces pressed against the window, with our eyes closed, soaking in the sun that decided to pop out for a brief moment. It has been a very long, hard winter. And we are preparing for another Arctic blast this week.

    • We’re going to be part of that same arctic blast and, frankly, I”m not very happy about it. I love the mental image of you and your daughter with your faces pressed against a sunny window – somehow that’s very heartwarming and sweet.
      I start just tomatoes, peppers and eggplant…well, along with some herbs. I used to go little crazier and realized these are really the only plants I want or need a head-start on.
      I just keep looking at the calendar and thinking…it’s almost spring, it’s almost spring….
      This winter has been simply brutal.

  2. Oh this post was a reminder that spring really will spring…eventually. I can’t even imagine summer! Another several inches of snow and below zero wind chills in my neck of the woods today. Just ridiculous. Thanks for the summer garden inspiration! 🙂

    • Thank you! We’re caught up in the cold and snow pattern here in N. Illinois, also! Planting my seeds gives me hope and inspiration, so it’s so nice to hear I inspired you a bit, too. 🙂 Stay warm…spring has to come eventually!

  3. I’ll be starting my tomato and basil seeds next week…I usually grow heirlooms Do you have a favorite as far as a large slicing tomato?

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