Posted by: JerseyOrganic | February 23, 2014

Seed Time!!!

Okay, so today is the day. We are going to plant Tomato and Pepper seeds for the 2014 growing season!
Hopefully its easy to view the picture of my excel spreadsheet- but I put this together each year to get an idea of what to grow and when, this includes succession planting. So today is 2/22, and the estimated Last Frost date for our area is 04/11/14. Therefore, I can figure peppers and tomatoes need to be started 8 weeks prior to the last frost date. Now, keep in mind there are Micro- Climates, which by definition is ‘the climate of a very small or restricted area, esp. when this differs from the climate of the surrounding area.’ The reason I bring this up is because I live in a micro-climate. Hilltop is called Hilltop because of the slight undulation. The wind for instance whips through my backyard due to this, and I know that when I set my tomatoes out I need to shield them or wait an extra week before putting them outside to harden.
Okay, time to get started…

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So before we put any seeds in the soil, there is some preparation needing to be done.
First, do you have a warm, dark area to place your seeds for proper germination?
Do you have seeds, starting soil, cells or 4×4 pots?

Below is what I use- each of these items can be found at your local Hydroponic Store. In fact, I love hydroponic stores especially when they have grow room setups. Its great for inspiration when you need some.. Hardware stores also have what you need to get started, but hydroponic stores have the best soil. It’s always organic and full of what is needed for a plant to thrive. You will only need to amend when transplanting.

So as you have seen before, here is under my steps with my two heat mats. These bad boys are set to the proper germination temperature and are perfect for 4 flats of seeds which is about what I end up having for peppers and tomatoes. It usually works out perfectly, because by the time the tomatoes and peppers sprout and are ready to be moved, I am planting the next group of seeds.

First thing I like to do is take a large container of some kind and put a good amount of starter soil in there and  mix it with water. You are looking for the perfect consistency, not too wet and not too dry.
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Let the mixture sit for a while if you can.

For peppers, you want to use your four-inch pot and you want to fill it about 95% with soil. Place about three seeds per pot and cover with soil. I like to use a skewer. You can use the pointy end to make a hole if needed and the blunt and to push your seed down to the proper depth, based on what the seed pack says.
You can see, I plant a variety of peppers both hot and sweet.

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For tomatoes, you will only want to fill the four-inch pot halfway. This is so that when the seedlings start to grow you can keep adding soil until you’ve reached the top of the pot. (This will occur after being moved to grow room or under light) Adding soil to tomato plants as they grow increases the strength of the plant and adds nutrients at the same time. Tomatoes are cool plants, you can actually plant 90% of it in the ground, and they will grow huge and strong while producing plenty of fruit.

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Now that your seeds are planted be sure to note the date and what you planted. Get them covered and put them on your heat mat or whatever warm, dark area you can find. Be sure not to give them too much water as condensation will occur and continue to moisten the seeds. Be mindful if you’re using Peat, it tends to get moldy and I urge you against it due to the environmental impact.

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Give it a week or so and you’ll start to see seedlings..in another week you’ll see true leaves. At this point, before they get long and leggy, you will want to move them to the light.

You should probably start thinking about where these seedlings are going to go after they germinate. I have my grow room which is fully equipped with lighting, ventilation, air and temp control, and is large enough for my needs. A sunny south facing window may be enough, but it wasn’t adequate for me. Plants needs at least 12 hours sunlight when in the vegetative stage. If you are buying transplants, you don’t have to worry about any of this.. But it’s part of the fun and is a learning experience.
I will shed more light on grow rooms in another post..

Please let me know if you have any question and good luck!!

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