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Seed starting: tomatoes and peppers

March 8, 2012

The method I use for starting tomatoes and peppers from seed is as follows:

1. Put an inch or so of vermiculite in a container
2. Sprinkle seeds over the vermiculite
3. Add water- keep moist but not waterlogged
4. Place container in 80 degree environment of some sort for a few days, keeping moist.

In a few days you have this, a tupperware full of healthy tomato seedlings (Brandywine in this case)

Prepare a starting mix (peat+ compost+ perlite will do) or purchase a mix I have done both; this year I splurged an picked up a 3cu ft (compressed) bale of Promix, a commercial mix, for around $26. This may not sound like a good deal but it is, I promise. Two puny bags of Miracle Grow cost the same; this is 6 cubic ft of sterile mix with volume of maybe a dozen or two of the little Miracle grow bags.

At this point fill your plastic pots, peat pots, yogurt containers and let them soak up water overnight (from the bottom up). I generally use soil cubes/blocks now; I have found they promote a root system that allows quick adaptation of the plant once moved to the garden.

Pull a sprout (or a punch of them) out of the vermiculite (lift the plants from below using a spoon or knife.)

A clump of Branywines ready to go into the coil cubes they are resting upon:

After I carefully deposit a sprout into each block I generally “backfill” with vermiculite or fresh dampened peat; the Cherokee Purple on the right are “tucked in” using vermiculite, the row of leaning Brandywines to the left aren’t yet :

Label well and return to the warm mat under the lights:

In a week or so the seedlings will have adapted and started growing, like these recently transplanted peppers:

These will be ready to move to the raised beds in about 5 or 6 weeks; the peppers will go out a week or so after the tomatoes.

Tip: I use large straight forceps, ie giant tweezers, to pinch out the center of the pot of sil cube so that the dedicate little “hair” roots can easily fit.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012 3:35 am

    They look healthy. You’re off to a flying start.

  2. Nev permalink
    March 9, 2012 7:53 am

    Great article. Even as a non-farmer I was fascinated.

    • March 9, 2012 12:51 pm

      Thanks dood. Stay tooned for the next installment. 😉

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