Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Is Here

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).

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