Starting the seeds for the Summer vegetable garden

I had targeted April 1 to start the seeds indoors for my vegetable garden for this Summer, and I only missed by one day. Last year I bought plants and started seeds in the ground, but did not begin any in early Spring. Usually you begin them inside 6 to 8 weeks before they should be transplanted outdoors, allowing for one week hardening outside before they go in the ground. I live in the northwest corner of New York State, in climate zone 5b.

I decided to use the Burpee “Ultimate Growing System.” This provides 72 cells and makes it much easier to keep the soil moist while the seeds germinate and get underway. You can put together your own system, but since it’s been several years since I started seeds I decided to keep it simple. I may need to transplant the seedlings to Jiffy pots if they get quite large, but that’s a decision for down the line.

Today I only planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers and basil. The majority of the seeds will be planted in the garden directly in mid-May, but I may start a few more seeds this weekend for flowers like Zinnias.

I ended up planting seeds for 6 varieties of tomatoes, hoping to get 3 plants of each; 4 varieties of peppers, hoping to get 4 plants of each; and 2 varieties of basil. Almost all the tomato and pepper cells were single seed plantings while the basil had 4 or 5 in each. Basil seeds are very small and it will be fine if I get more than one plant per cell. Cherry tomato seeds are also quite small, so those were double planted.

Each row of seeds was labeled with permanent ink on a plastic label, and the codes are reflected in the table below. I’ll augment the table to include other data as the process continues.

Seed starting

Label Type Variety Seeds Per Cell Days to Germination Germination Rate
T1 Tomato High Mowing Seeds Rose de Berne 1 - -
T2 Tomato High Mowing Seeds Sunkist F1 Hybrid 1 - -
T3 Tomato Burpee Big Boy Hybrid 1 - -
T4 Tomato Burpee Supersteak Hybrid 1 - -
T5 Tomato Burpee Super Sweet 100 Cherry Hybrid 2 - -
T6 Tomato Ferry-Morse Red Cherry 2 - -
B1 Basil Ferry-Morse Sweet 4-5 - -
B2 Basil Ferry-Morse Genovese 4-5 - -
P1 Pepper Burpee Crispy Hybrid 1 - -
P2 Pepper Burpee California Wonder 1 - -
P3 Pepper Ferry-Morse Anaheim 1 - -
P4 Pepper High Mowing Seeds Ring-O-Fire 1 - -

Once everything was planted, I put the whole contraption under grow lights in the basement. The lights are on a timer to be on between 7 AM and 7 PM.

Seed starting

Next: “Sprouts!”

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