I should have written this entry yesterday because yesterday I started my tomato and pepper seeds. But I didn't get around to it and so it must be noted that:
~Tuesday, March 25th, started tomato and pepper seeds.
~Noticed the first crocuses beginning to bloom.
My seed starting system is tried and true. I've done it this way for the past 7 years with complete success. I begin with the little compressed pellets. You add water and they expand into a small planting cell contained in a light plastic net. I do two trays of 72 cells each for a total of 144 plants. I sow 2 or 3 seeds in each cell. I only have one heating mat so the trays are alternated on the mat each day. This seems to work fine although a second heating mat would be more convenient but I've had trouble finding them lately. The trays are covered with a clear plastic top and placed on the shelves of my window greenhouse. The window in my kitchen is ideal as it faces south and is right over a forced air heating vent. I believe the air movement from the vent decreases disease and strengthens the seedlings.
There are several reasons why I go through the trouble of starting my own seeds rather than buy from a nursery. First and foremost is selection. I am a major tomato snob and I have certain varieties of tomato that I must grow which are never offered as nursery stock. Plus I like to experiment with different and unusual tomato varieties, especially heirlooms. I can order about any tomato seed I am interested in growing.
Second, it is cheaper. Granted, I grow way more plants than I need for my garden but the extras are always given to friends or donated to garden clubs to be sold during fundraisers. They don't go to waste.
Finally, I can be sure of organic growing methods. Not that I worry much about the fertilizer given to seedlings at nurseries, but it is an issue and I like knowing that my seedlings have only been fertilized with fish emulsion and never sprayed with pesticides.
What varieties did I plant this year? I have my yearly staples; Big Mama paste tomatoes (24), Sun Gold cherry tomatoes (18), Striped German heirloom tomatoes (24), and Bell peppers (12). Also this year I am trying out San Marzano paste tomatoes (24), Rose heirloom tomatoes (18), Ancho peppers (12), and Joe E. Numex Anaheim peppers (12).