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Finally…A Sunday Farm update with some garden action!…well, sort of.
It’s always such an incredible feeling each year to finally start putting seeds into the soil. It gives you that sense Spring is finally close at hand! So what if there is still a little snow on the ground outside from yet another passing storm system - once you put a few seeds into soil, it’s time to grow! We finally planted the first of them yesterday – our ornamental peppers. The Ornamental Peppers tend to take a little longer to germinate and grow to full maturity – so we like to give them an additional head start by planting in Mid-February.
As for the process…there are thousands of websites, television shows, and gardening experts that give all kinds of advice about starting seeds indoors – and quite honestly, it can get really confusing! For us – as with all of our gardening – the more simple we can keep it – the easier it is to accomplish, and the more we enjoy it all. Starting seeds indoors in no different.
Seeds need moisture to sprout – but struggle to germinate if there is too much water or not enough. The easiest way we have found to remedy that is through using plastic seed domes or plastic wrap, and a spray bottle of water. We start by placing two seeds in every cell - that way we can almost ensure a sprout to every cell. It’s easy to thin them out later – but hard to replace if one doesn’t grow. For almost all of our vegetable and annual seeds – we make a small indention about 1/8″ to a 1/4″ down with the end of a plastic knife, drop the seeds in, and lightly cover them up with the soil.
Then, taking the spray bottle – we spritz a fine mist over the entire seed tray – enough to make the dirt stick to your hand if you touched it – but not so much that the dirt clumps or becomes water clogged. We do not directly water it other than the heavy spritzing. After that – we place the plastic domes or plastic wrap over top – and place them back on the rack – with no lights on whatsoever. You should start to see a good amount of moisture on the underside of the plastic dome or wrap in the days that follow – and that’s perfect for getting the seeds started.
After that initial spritzing of water, we will check them about every other day and make sure there is still some level of dampness to the soil. If we see moisture on the underside of the cover – we know they are fine and can leave them alone. If not – we take off the cover and give it a few more shots of water spray to keep the humidity up – and that’s it. Nothing more.
All seeds germinate at different times. Our Ornamental Peppers have a longer germination cycle – more so than our tomatoes and peppers. It usually takes around 14 to 21 days before the first seedlings emerge from the trays. At the point we see more than 3 or 4 popping up in a tray (no matter what we are germinating) – we remove the moisture cover and start turning on the lights for the plants. Seeds do not need direct light to germinate – so our grow lights stay off in the beginning. Even then we will only water by spritzing.
Lighting is another big topic with so many options- again – we just try to keep it simple using regular old flourescent shop lights. Once those first sprouts start - we give them about 10 to 12 hours of artificial light a day. We usually will flip the lights on when we get up – and turn them back off around 7 or 8 at night or later when we go to bed. We keep the lights down close to the plants – at about 1″or 2″ above the top of the seedlings. It keeps them growing strong and slowly. That is important so they don’t become “leggy” and weak trying to reach up too high for a light source.
So now that our ornamental seeds are in – we’ll wait another few weeks or so before we get started on the other vegetable plants we will grow. It’s just such a good feeling to finally be writing a Sunday update about some real gardening – even if it is indoors!
I hope everyone has a terrific Sunday!!!
Jim and Mary
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