Early Seeding for Transplants

It’s March 2nd.  Even though it’s -13C degrees with high winds and drifting snow outside, we are starting to seed plant trays for spring transplanting.  When to start?  It is a question with a multi-layered answer as it depends on the crop, when it is intended to be transplanted outside and what growing infrastructure you have to keep them happy and growing until they are set out.  The risk is to start too early, especially if you cannot keep them under proper conditions as they get bigger.

We use a grow light indoors for small amounts of specialty items, such as our ultra-hot peppers.  These were seeded two weeks ago and germinated on a heating pad.  They are now happily up and just now producing their second set of leaves.  As they get bigger in about 2-3 weeks, they will be upgraded to 2″ pots and kept under the grow light for a week or two more, and then moved out to a heated pad in the greenhouse.

Two days ago, we seeded 3 trays with onion seed – yellow storage onions, red onions and green onions.  We seed 4-7 seeds per cell in a 50 cell tray.  Onions don’t mind growing in clumps and they separate easily when transplanting into the ground in early May.  These are germinated indoors next to the wood stove where it is warm – it takes about 5-7 days.  When they just start to emerge from the potting soil, we will put them out into the greenhouse in an insulated box which has a heating pad on the bottom.  The box is covered with bubble wrap on cold nights. 

Stay tuned – in two more weeks we will begin seeding many of the other transplants to be used in Transition Garden.

Consider knowledge of gardening to be an essential life skill.  Teach young children and students at every opportunity, as they will need to have these skills in the future as the world grows increasingly crowded and resources increasingly scarce.  It is possibly to grow a huge amount of food on small amounts of land.  This is evidenced by the many many small scale farmers who still today produce most of the world’s food supply.

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