I start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in jiffy-9 pellets. I put the
pellets in old deli/take-out trays that have clear plastic lids and get
them hydrated the day before I plant. These are placed on a heat
mat until the majority of pellets in a container have germinated.
I plant two seeds per pellet, and at least twice as many pellets as I
need for planting out to the garden, sometimes more if the seed is
older or I've noticed poor germination in the past. This allows me
to select the best seedlings when I pot them up for phase 2. (It's
not usually a hard choice to pick one over another.)
The pellets are marked with a number (matched to a list I make
each year) to indicate variety (12 different tomatoes, 6 peppers,
and 3 or 4 eggplants, in recent years). The marker is a wooden
toothpick with a little numbered flag on it.
The plants are transplanted into 32oz yogurt tubs when they have
at least two true leaves. (These have holes cut in the bottom for
drainage and are numbered on the side with a Sharpie.) Most of
these are reused from year-to-year after washing in a mild bleach
Light is supplied by a high output metal-halide fixture suspended
on pullies. The plants are surrounded by a temporary 'light box'
made with mylar sheets on cardboard with a couple of fans set
up to move the air through.
For the last few years I've been ordering transplant mix from
Gardener's Supply company as what I've been able to get locally
is very mixed in quality and often contains styrofoam pellets (!?!)
and other weird ingredients. I add a tiny bit of Osmocote to the
transplant mix and water at least once with PHC for Seedlings
(A Gardener's Supply Company product) added. (Outdoors it's
compost, and/or alfalfa plus Tomato Tone as fertilizers along
with a kelp drench at transplant and foliar sprays during the
The tomatoes are taken outside by early-mid May (the peppers
and eggplants stay inside under the lights for a extra week or so).
All the plants go out into dappled shade (to start with) and are
gradually exposed to more direct sunlight. At night, they are
either put inside the garage or tucked up under the overhang
of the house. After a week or so of that (with an eye to the
weather) the tomatoes get planted and the peppers and
eggplants go outside for the same routine.
I haven't finalized my planting list for this year. Should be
getting around to that soon. I don't start any plants until the
second week of April. They sprout very quickly and grow on
quickly once they are in the yogurt tubs that I would be in
trouble if I started earlier.
These days, the only other plants I start indoors are my
Benary's Giant Zinnias, which I plants in recycled 4- or 6-pack
cells (which fit nicely, one pair in each deli tray) at a window
with supplementary flourescent lighting. (Which is where
my orchid spends the winter.)
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
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