Is it Too Late to Start Seeds?
Posted on 09 May 2017
No, it’s not too late. You can start seeds year-round. It depends on what you would like to accomplish after planting your seeds. There is short-season gardening, hydroponic growing, indoor gardening, jump-start growing to have huge plants to transplant in spring, etc.
If it’s before mid-summer, and you want to experience growing peppers or tomatoes from seed to table, then choose short season pepper varieties like Jalapeno M, Jimmy Nardello, Hatch Green X-Hot and Bulgarian Carrot. For tomatoes choose smaller fruited varieties like Black Prince, New Yorker, Chocolate Cherry and Isis Candy.
Start your seeds in ideal conditions. You want fast germination so plants can be transplanted outside in 2-3 weeks. Soaking seeds in water might speed germination.
Try a 6 hour soak, until seeds sink to the bottom of the cup. A solution of hydrogen peroxide or weak chamomile tea may help to break down the seed coat. Use one to two teaspoons of standard 3% hydrogen peroxide per cup of warm water.
Micromanage the moisture and warmth of your seedling mix until seeds emerge.
Your tray or container should be kept moist at all times and on a seedling heat mat. Peppers love heat and germinate best at around 80 degrees. Most pepper seeds will still germinate at cooler temperatures, but they'll take longer. On a seedling heat mat, jalapeno seedlings will be ready to transplant 2 weeks after sowing. If same seeds were placed in could soil, they might not germinate for 2 weeks.
Lights ensure stocky seedlings.
As soon as you see the first sign of sprouting, if not before, put your seed starting tray under lights. You don't need fancy grow lights for seedlings, but they should be as close to the developing seedlings as possible. If your lights give off heat, be careful not to cook the seedlings or let them dry out.
Fertilize at first sign of sprouting. Use a diluted organic liquid fertilizer. Fertilize each week.
Harden off and transplant. First, you need to harden your seedlings off by placing them outside a few days in dappled sunlight. Keep them in their cozy container. Be careful soil doesn’t dry out. Transplant your seedlings when they have 2 pairs of true leaves.
Forcing production in the garden.
More of everything is better. More water, more fertilizer, more sunshine. I think the best thing you can do, to ensure success, is to transplant your seedlings into some great organic soil. Your garden may be peaking with nutrients from composting and soil preparation, and that’s great. If not, fill each 1 foot x 1 foot hole you dig with moisture controlling, fertilizer releasing, bagged potting soil. Blend it into the garden soil on the bottom and sides so the roots won’t be shy about extending into your existing soil. Continue to fertilize every week, and make sure the fertilizer has low nitrogen.
When you transplant it might be a little later into spring, and the sun could be blasting your garden in the afternoons. Shade transplants from afternoon sun for a week. This doesn’t need to be fancy. Plastic stacking lawn chairs work well for plant shade.
Mulch around plants to maintain a more constant soil temperature. Water precisely so plants never stress about water availability (soggy is bad). Stake or cage your plants as needed to reduce wind stress. Hand pollinate flowers with your finger in the mornings. You may want to thin some fruit, so more plant resources go to less fruits. You will have a few less, but bigger tastier peppers and tomatoes instead of more small ones.
It’s never too late to plant seeds! Shop at sandiaseed.com for many more seed choices to get your garden growing!
~ Patsy Coles