Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Indoor Veggie Seeding
It has been an unusually warm spring so far it seems. Everyone is seeding quite early this year but I am still holding back just a touch so that my produce is ready only when the farmer’s market begins and so that I avoid any lingering frost.
I started my “greenhouse” material this week in my living room on May 1st. It is recommended that you start indoor seeding 6-8 weeks in most cases before the expected outdoor transplanting. I tried that last year but the plants became too spindly and grossly large by the time I wanted to plant them outside and, in the end, were largely unproductive and very vegetative. This year I want stouter, stronger plants so I planned to plant my indoor material late and reduce the amount of light they get per day. Too much light (much like last year which was over 12 hours a day) can cause very spindly plants as it turns out.
My indoor seeding setup is just made up of two metal kitchen racks I snagged from IKEA. They seem to be able to fit all of my plant material nicely and are able to be adjusted when need. Attached to the metal racks are also greenhouse lights which produce a certain wavelength of light that tries to mimic natural sunlight for greater plant vigor.
I start everything off by planting 2-3 seeds into little these little jiffy pellets that are basically just a small packet of peat material with enough nutrition and space for about 2 weeks of growth. After they have outgrown that, the plants are transplanted into 4’’ peat jiffy pots filled with potting soil. Once transplanting time approaches and the plants are big enough, they are slowly introduced to the outside conditions by bringing the pots out for an increasing amount of time for about a week. This is called “hardening off”, and has to be done to reduce the stress on the plant by the rapidly changing environmental conditions from inside to outside. The peat pots can then be cut and planted as is into the garden when ready.
Heat loving, long season crops should be started indoors. I started all of my tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and squash indoors along with some watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins. Other crops of this type include cucumbers and zuchinni. These crops can also be planted outdoors when the soil has warmed up enough and when night temperatures are not too cold, which is what I do for most of my vine plants.
Cool loving, long season crops include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions (from seed), spinach and kale. I planted a few test pellets of each just because I didn’t have any more space and also because I wanted to compare them to the plants seeded directly into the garden. These crops can be planted either indoor or outdoors.
Cool loving, short season crops include beets, carrots, lettuce, onion sets, peas, potatoes, radishes, chard and turnips. These grow well under cool conditions, can be planted very early and will tolerate some frost. I should be planting some of these soon.
Heat loving, short season crops include beans and some early varieties of sweet corn. These should be seeded directly into the garden after the risk of frost has passed.