Seed Starting

Our raised beds warm up pretty fast, and  I was able to plant Maxigolt peas today.  Of course, we are just about to  enter Mud Season here in New Enlgand and a Nor’ Easter is on the way tomorrow, but I planted them anyway!  Last weekend I started seeds; Redbor kale, Mizuna mustard grrens,  Bright Lights chard and  Sessantina broccoli raab.


A Roma on the left, and a Marvel Striped on the right.  The Roma came form Lowes to replace a Cherokee Purple that was mysterioslu brokne off at ground elvel, and I think it went into the ground June 1.  Roma’s are 76 days so it’s way ahead. Marvel Striped (started from seed April12) was planted May 17; it’s 90 days and also ahead of schedule. I suspect this may be due to the Trex raised beds being so warm.  This Marvel Striped was at the very bottom of the vine, most of its still-to-ripen-relatives are MUCH larger.

Seed Starting has just about finished up; we have a metal shelf unit set up in the garage with two sets of grow lights on chains.  The seed trays with covers are on heat mats 24/7 until germination, then the covers are removed and the mat turned off because the ideal temp for seedling is about 60-70 degrees F.

The mats speed up germination by increasing the soil temps about 10-20 degrees F above the air temperature, and a thermomater helps me keep tabs on the temps (see white disc on the right).   Here we have heirloom tomatoes on the top left, already sprouted, and on the top right are 3 types of basils, 2 types of peppers & some jalapeno chilis. Bottom right are cantaloupe, summer squash and watermelon and an ornamental annual flower called Castor Bean (var. “Carmencita”).  The lights are on timers for 18 hours a day so that by the time a seedling is ready to go into the ground its nice and stocky.  

Last month the early spring, cold hardy seeds were started (kale, lettuce, swiss chard, broccoli de rabb and scallions) and those have already been transplanted outside.  Those seeds will germinate in temps as low as 50-60 degree F, so with the heat mats I was able to start seeds even though the air temperature during March was in the low 40’s.  The raab is already in the garden, and swiss chard (below) will be ready to transplant in another few days.