Well, this weekend couldn’t come soon enough. I planned out my garden weeks ago and bought my seeds from my trust Jung Garden Center online. Back-tracking from planting date to the first planting, this weekend marks the beginning of Spring for me. Today was peppers and parsley. Here’s a recap of my morning so far…and it’s only 6:40AM here!
I start out with APS seed-starting systems from Gardener’s Supply Co. I’ve been using these kits for over 7 years with great success. They come in a wide variety of sizes. I’m using the 24-cell version today. They go from 6-cell to 40-cell. Features include:
- Water reservoir tray
- Capillary mat (this mat wicks water from the water reservoir to the bottom of your soil and gently moistens the soil.
- Styrofoam cell tray (I know, not the most green item. However, these kits are reusable. The one pictured is new. I’m still using kits from my original purchase 7 years ago!)
- Clear lid (great for creating a greenhouse to keep the soil warm for germination)
I’m fond of using an organic seed-starting mix. If we’re going to eat the food grown in our garden, it might as well as be natural and free of unwanted chemicals. There will surely be enough chemicals that will make their way into the soil through wind and rain (We live in the Milwaukee area…not exactly the freshest air around…but certainly not as bad as smog-ridden Los Angeles) I don’t want to add any additional chemicals to our home-grown produce. The mix I use also comes from Gardener’s Supply. In the Winter, I prefer to order things online and have them come to my house. Just my lazy way of dealing with the cold!
Mix a little water into the mix before using to ensure proper moisture content and understand how much the mix will compact in your cells. If you use dry, the mix will shrink severely in the cells and not have enough content to support the root system for several weeks. You can always transplant, as I will need to with the peppers, but need a good root system formed to survive the move.
After moistening the mix, I start spooning the mix into each cell. This is a tedious process that I have little patience for. The reward clearly outweighs the boredom, so I try to smile while trudging through the process!! I’m happy today because I’m only filling cells in one kit. If I had much more, I’d enlist Dale’s help.
The only tip I have here is don’t pack too hard. You want a well packed mix to ensure proper contact with the capillary mat below the cells. However, you need to leave the mix loose enough to encourage proper root growth without making the plant struggle to root itself. I’ve experienced both situations in the past. If the mix is not packed enough, you’ll be misting and watering from the top until the mix packs itself down. (You don’t want to dry out your new seedling and mix!) If the mix is too packed, your seedling will start life out all stressed out. Happy plants produce a lot of food for you. Stressed out plants act like a human getting stressed out….not so productive!!!
Parsley – Dark Green Hybrid -Italian flat-leaf variety that will be more fragrant and peppery than its curly counterpart.
Bell Pepper – Rainbow Hybrid -I’ve used these in the past. We won’t know what colors we have until the peppers ripen. Surprise!
Jalapeno Pepper – Early Jalapeno – This variety has a shorter fruiting timeline. Can’t wait too long for good homemade salsa!
Gardener’s Supply Co
Jung Garden Centers