Right now is the easiest period of seed starting – those quiet first few weeks before anything has begun to germinate. Once things start to grow, it takes a whole lot more work and energy to keep all of the tiny plants happy and healthy.
Yesterday (on the spring solstice) I planted my tomato seeds and my Spanish onions.
I started by soaking my pots from the bottom a few hours in advance of placing the seeds. This gives the planting medium a chance to be thoroughly moistened, which is critically important to germination.
I like to use the bottom of a similar pot as a guide to mark the seeding holes, and a pencil with an elastic wrapped around it to control the depth. Maybe I’m just a bit retentive, but I like the look of evenly spaced plants.
Onions aren’t keen on being transplanted as they develop so I planted four in each four inch pot, and they’ll stay there until it’s time to be transferred outside.
I dropped two tiny onion seeds in each 1/4 inch (5 mm) deep hole and covered them with sand. Labelling each and every pot is so important that I can’t stress it enough. You may think you’ll be able to tell one from another a few months from now, but don’t count on it.
These eight pots (32 plants once I remove any duplicates that come up in the same hole) were placed under my grow light and covered with plastic to help keep the soil moist until they germinate.
Tomatoes need to be started well in advance, as they take a good eight weeks to grow sturdy enough to be transplanted outside. I love tomatoes, so plant four different varieties to enjoy; three are bush varieties and one is a staking tomato. More about that in a later post.
Using a pencil to make a trough the length of my flat, I placed 9-10 seeds in each. I’m hoping for 50% germination, but I’ll pinch out and transplant any successful seedlings as soon as they have a set of true leaves. That’ll be in a few weeks, and I’ll blog about that when the time comes.
Truth be told, I don’t need that many tomato plants, but I can’t help but plant more than I should. I’ve never had a friend or neighbour turn down a free tomato plant, and it never hurts to give away what you have excess of.
Once the tomato seeds were sown, I placed them under the lights and next to the peppers from last week. They should germinate within the next 7-10 days.
It’s starting to get crowded already under my lights and I’ve only just begun!