I’ve almost always bought my plants from a local garden shop, but a couple of years ago decided to start my own seedlings when I couldn’t find quite just the right vegetables I wanted to grow. Went pretty well the first year, forgot to get them started last year, so back again this year. First off, when I did this ago ago in NJ, when I had the most perfect garden location, soil and plenty of time I discovered those seed starter kits and realized they really work. Somewhere in the last 15 or so years I decided I was never going to use them again and tossed it all. Costly and dumb mistake!
So, I started over again with the APS system (newer product is the GrowEase Seed Starting Kit) from Gardeners Supply company. Lots of companies make similar products. I bought the starter kit and an additional APS 40 (which seems to have gone missing, UGH). I love these systems because the kits are self watering, which means fewer dead plants when I fail to check them every day. You also need to be sure to use sterile seed starting soil unless you want mold and gross stuff growing all over your soil. It’s worth the money to buy.
To start the seeds, set up your kit; reservoir, water capillary mat, planting tray and cover. Be sure to wet the capillary mat and never let it dry out. You also need to wet your soil before filling the planting tray. Not sopping wet, just nice and moist. When filling the planting tray, I try to be careful not to pack it too tightly, but do tamp it down a bit or the spoil/root ball falls apart when transplanting.
This year, on 3/30, I planted seeds for
- Cucumber, Sweet Burpless Hybrid (Burpee)
- Summer Squash, Burpee’s Hybrid Zucchini ((Burpee)
- Summer Squash, Sunray Hybrid (Burpee)
- Sweet Pepper, California wonder (Burpee)
- Summer Squash, Black Magic (Gurney’s)
- Tomato, Sweet Million Hybrid (Park Seed Co)
I didn’t grow any full size tomatoes because I can get excellent varieties of those plants at my local greenhouse. I placed the trays in a west facing window, mostly because that’s where I have space.
Five days later, this is what it looks like:
The big ones are my cucumbers, and the tomatoes and zucchini have also sprouted. Today I added some fertilizer that came with the kit to the water and removed the covers. I’ll try to lay the cover across the areas that haven’t spouted yet, and remember for next year what comes up in what order and try to group them better. I might be having a problem with some leggy plants because I don’t have them in quite enough light. We’ll see what happens. It’d be better to have them under those grow lights at the beginning, but I haven’t quite made that investment yet. I do have to remember to turn the plants to get them to grow a little straighter.