Tag Archives: growing seedlings

What Am I Growing-2017

It’s always fun to spend time in January and February going through all the seed and garden catalogs to see what I am going to grow this year.

It’s also during that time, I wish I had bigger gardens and more sun to really plant huge vegetable and flower gardens. But I have what I have, so I’m limited in what I can plant and can honestly barely take care of that. After many years of experimenting, I’ve settled into growing particular vegetables we like best, but often changing up the varieties, and then throwing in a few new things for fun.

Now’s the time to get started with any indoor sowing that needs to be done to give plants a head start in my northern climate. As in prior years, I’ve printed out my very handy planting guides from Botanical Interests and noted the sowing dates by counting the weeks backwards from my average last frost date.

If you don’t know your average last frost date, you can find it easily on Dave’s Garden.

Like usual, I’ll get my tomatoes and sweet peppers from a local nursery (shout out to Vern Goers Greenhouse) who grows multiple varieties of both. Pretty much any variety I want I can get from them, and they’ll be stronger and healthier than anything I’d grow.

So what am I growing this year? I usually get my seeds from Botanical Interests and Burpee, depending on who has my favorite varieties. This year, I have also ordered some seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds since I was already ordering leek plant sets and seed potatoes from them.

Inside, I will be starting:

Vegetables that I will starting outdoors directly:

I’m also trying something new this year, seed tapes. Seed tapes are supposed to make it easier to plant small seeds and reduce the need for thinning. It’s biodegradable and can be cut to fit your space. Looks handy! I’m going to try it for spinach and radishes this year.

Since we don’t have any spring parties scheduled, I’m going to grow more of my own annuals from seed.   As always, I’m growing marigolds and plenty of my new favorite cosmos.

I’ve described how I start seeds using the Gardener’s Supply Company APS System (which has been replaced by the GrowEase System) in “Time to Sow Seeds Indoors“. This year I’m also adding some new recycled paper pots from Botanical Interests which look perfect for the plants that don’t like to transplant so well.

Plants can be grown right from seed and when time to transplant, the bottom tears off and the remaining pot and plant go right in the ground.  Sounds great for my cucumbers and squashes.

I’m also finally investing in a grow light. I tend to grow very leggy seedlings that do ok, but a grow light is going to help the seedlings grow faster, healthier and better for transplanting. My mom Peggy bought the Hydrofarm JumpStart JSV2 2-Foot T5 Grow Light System a couple of years ago and had great luck with it. Her plants looked great when I was visiting last week, so I just ordered the same light set. Looking forward to not having a leggy, tangled mess of plants 🙂



Time to Sow Seeds Indoors

After my last post where I realized that spring was indeed coming, I figured I’d better open my boxes from Botanical Interests and Burpee that were still sitting by the front door and see what I had bought.  I know I’m still ok with timing since I usually don’t start anything until after spring break.  Oops, forgot I was going grow my own peppers this year rather than buying them and they need 8-10 weeks in the house before going outside!  Better get a move on!

Stephi gardens

Seeds to be started indoors

I found this great Seed Sowing Guide on the Botanical Interests website that very clearly lays out when seeds need to be started, both indoors and out.  I printed off my sheets and started calculating.

botanical Interests

Even though my last frost date is April 22nd, I’m generally not comfortable assuming I can plant tender seedlings before Mother’s Day Weekend.  So using that as my planting weekend, I calculated back when I needed to get things started.

First up is the peppers ASAP since I’m behind a week or so, then in a couple of weeks I’ll start the cucumbers and squash.  I’m not growing as many flowers myself this year because we’ll be having a high school graduation party the end of May for my twin boys.  I am going to splurge and go for some instant color this year.  But, I will start some cosmos and sunflowers for me to enjoy later in the summer.

As I described in my earlier posts, Starting My Seeds Indoors and Starting Seeds Indoors, I really like the APS system from Gardeners Supply Company (recently replaced by the GrowEase system)  So I hauled the box of seed starting supplies from the basement, bought a new bag of seed starting soil and got planting.

APS seed starting system

My fancy storage container for my seed starting supplies

APS seed starting system

Moisten the seed starting mix. Make it damp, not sopping. Also, use seed starting mix, not potting or garden soil.

APS seed starting system

Should feel moist and be able to form a loose ball

APS seed starting system

Moisten thoroughly the capillary mat and set up the APS tray system.

APS seed starting system

Fill the cells with soil. Tamp down the soil to compress it. Forms a better root ball for transplanting.

And here’s my new “trick” this year.  I always have trouble knowing what seeds are planted in which cell.  I usually use popsicle sticks, but they just get in the way of the lid and sometime the writing fades.  This year I marked off a grid like a map and made a log to go with it.  So simple, not sure why I didn’t think of it before!

APS seed starting system

Now I just need to be sure I don’t lose my paper log!

pepper seeds

Plant the seeds, 2-3 to a cell (you’ll thin later).  Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil so they are at the right depth according to the seed package directions.

APS seed starting system

Peppers are ready, looking forward to seeing them sprout.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll start the rest of the indoor seeds, and I’ll also get the cold weather seeds sowed outside.  It’s always iffy as to whether I get anything to grow this early outside, but I keep trying.

Starting Seeds Indoors

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:

IMG_2139 IMG_2140

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.