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.
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 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?