Friday, March 5, 2010

Planting time is here!

Onions, leeks, eggplants and peppers!

Here in Southern Ontario It's time to get these goodies going indoors, under your grow lights preferably. These crops ideally want to be started 8-10 weeks prior to setting out, so this is it.
Use any container you can find- pots, cottage cheese tubs or flats, depending on how much you need to grow and ensure you have added drainage holes in the bottom. You don't want your delicate seedlings to become waterlogged .
Then fill your containers with a nice light seeding mix which has been slightly moistened with HOT water. Potting soil just won't cut it, it is simply too heavy. You can make your own mix too -lots of recipes can be found on the internet.
Sprinkle seed on the surface of your soil, then add more soil until seeds are covered by about 1/8-1/4 inch of soil. Water gently with nice warm water, then fashion a humidity dome over your pot.
This can be done by putting 2 sticks on either side of the pot in the soil, and placing a plastic bag over top, which the pot can sit on to close. (So high tech!)
Place your container within a few inches of your grow lights, or in a southerly facing sunny window.
Keep a close watch on your seedlings. If the humidity appears too high, open your dome up, but don't let the soil dry out- this could be disaster for sprouting seeds.
Once you see good germination, remove the dome entirely and keep as close to the light as possible. This will prevent your seedlings from becoming leggy.
When the true leaves develop, pot up into a larger container and water well with a diluted kelp solution.
In mid-May, when temperatures are mild, start exposing your plants gradually to the outdoors, a bit at a time. This is the hardening off process. Begin by putting your plants out in the shade, then little by little, expose them to more sun, until they are out in the sun all day. It is still best to bring them in at night though, we don't seem to be frost free until May 24th, and a frost would be the end of peppers and eggplants- not onions though!
My favourite onions are Cippolinis and Long Red Florence. I'm not a huge eggplant eater, but grow 28 different varieties. Does this make sense? They are SO pretty! My favourites are Slim Jim, a small plant with nice smallish slim purple eggplants and Ping Tung Long, with it's beautiful slim mauve and white fruit.
Peppers I do love! This year I am growing 45 different ones, but the favs are, for hot Aji Limon, with it's fiery citrus bite and brilliant yellow good looks and Red Cheese Pimento, so thick walled and sweet.
Bring the summer on!


sarahjane said...

Wow Linda - how right you are!! Too many years I have left my plants too long and have been disappointed with the results - you have inspired me to get going! I did start some plants Winter Sowing a few weeks ago - have you much experience with this? I am hoping for good results as I don't have much light, but do intend on getting set up better soon.

Linda said...

Hi Sarah-what was it you planted a few weeks ago? You've piqued my curiosity!

inhabiting_trees said...

This is some really great advice and information thank you! In the past I have mostly bought seedlings but this year I decided to try starting from seed so I'm just getting going this week :)

Linda said...

You are more than welcome! Any question-please ask.