Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tomatoes and Peppers

I schedule my warm season crops to be transplanted into the garden around Memorial Day. My last frost-free date average is around mid-May, but I have learned that I don't gain anything from trying to transplant tomatoes and peppers any earlier. Even though the days may be warmer, chilly nights cause the plants to sulk and sit there in the cold soil with little growth. 



I started pre-sprouting tomato seeds the second week of April. Most were quick to sprout and were carefully transplanted into waiting soil blocks. These were then potted up as soon as they looked healthy and stable, usually when they begin with their true leaves.




I began hardening off the tomatoes and peppers the second week of May. Luckily, our nights were rather mild so they were soon spending all their time outside. I did cover them up with a row cover on some of the cooler nights but they seemed to take it all in stride.

Starting pepper seeds was a challenge again this year. I began pre-sprouting peppers the last week of March. Some sprouted right away but most either took their sweet time or were duds. I will have to remember to try to get peppers started even earlier next year. 

I was sad to see that my last few Anaheim Pepper seeds failed to germinate. Attempting to source some fresh seeds locally was almost impossible. I finally found some and began pre-sprouting them but like most pepper seeds, they took a while to germinate and are quite a bit behind the others. I hope they catch up. We rely very heavily on Anaheim Peppers for our canned salsa for the year.

This week is a great week to transplant the heat loving plants to the garden. We began with sunshine, then overcast and rainy for the mid part of the week. Then sun returns at the end of the week. Temps are predicted to be 70s during the day and mid-50s at night. Transplanting seedlings during overcast days allows them to settle their roots into the garden without the added stress of the sun. Then they will be more prepared to meet the sun when it returns this weekend.

Plotting out the San Marzano Tomatoes along a trellis.

San Marzano Tomatoes planted.

San Marzano Tomaotes

I began by taking inventory of the transplants and adjusting the garden plan. I agonized over this for a few beds because I was trying to find a way to squeeze in some extra transplants. It seems no matter how much the garden is expanded each year, there is never enough room for everything I want to grow. Some seedlings will be given away. I've been transplanting and seeding a little each day. Soon the garden will be completely planted.

13 comments:

  1. Your starts all look healthy and ready to grow. Peppers really do take a while to get germinated and growing - don't they?! I have taken to starting much earlier and for the past several years have ended up with bigger more established starts going into the garden. They seem to just need more time.

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    1. Peppers are frustrating me. I started them earlier this year than last year. Since some of my seeds are older, the germination was reduced. I didn't account for the time needed to reseed. Ugh!

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  2. I do the same thing. I don't put them out when it is last frost. And I didn't this year luckily we had a wet and cool early May. But it is time now to get my melons planted. The weather is really warming up.

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    1. The weather has been perfect lately for transplanting and seeding. I started some melons inside a few weeks ago and they are ready to be planted. I still need to lay the solar mulch down in the melon patch. I try to do a little each day.

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  3. I started my peppers in mid-February and they are still about the same size as yours. This year I used a heater under my seeds and put them close to a grow light. I think the combined warmth helped them germinate at a rate I had not achieved before. Everything looks great at your place.

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    1. I do have a heat mat, but did't use it this year. Perhaps I should have. I will start peppers much earlier next year. They grow slower than tomatoes too, so I should have room for them under the lights.

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  4. My pepper seeds were a bust, too. We ended up buying some plants from a garden center. Next year I am just going to start them when I start my onions!

    We expanded our garden this year, too. 3 more beds and a high-tunnel, and I am still struggling to fit everything in!

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    1. Isn't it amazing how quickly a garden can be filled? I develop a plan and a number of seedlings I need to start. Then I start a couple extras just in case….Well usually I end up with a bunch of extras that I need to find room for.

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  5. Your plants look great! I had problems with a few of my pepper seeds too. I started my peppers on March 7. I probably could have started them a week or two earlier.

    I've also been gradually sowing seeds. Pretty soon everything will be in!

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    1. Starting peppers a week or two earlier next year will solve my problems too. If anything, it will provide me with extra time in case some seeds are duds. The ones that did germinate are looking really healthy.

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  6. All your transplants look great.

    The same thing is happening to my with my banana pepper seeds. My first batch did not germinate and my second batch is so behind all others. They are still in small 4" pots looking very timid.

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  7. There's some law about amount of seedlings/space for them in the garden. They just can't match up. The San Marzanos look lovely.

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  8. Your seedlings look great, much better than mine. I decided to start a few plants this year because last year I couldn't find what I wanted at the garden centers. I had similar problems with very slow and inconsistent germination of the pepper seeds. I think I will follow your lead and start them a few weeks earlier, and pre-germinate them. Of course, I didn't start Anaheim, which I plant every year. Now none of the garden centers have Anaheim transplants this year! Do they get together and conspire? Is Anaheim not fashionable this year? Grrr.

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