Monday, March 19, 2012

Seedling Progress

Seedlings are doing well, have all but melon, cucumber and pumpkin going. The following are pictures of my current seedlings:

Celery right as it was beginning to germinate back in early February. One of the harder vegetables to get good germination from. They're finicky, my strategy for them is to put the seeds in the freezer four weeks before I plan to plant them. This is called, stratification, it simulates "winter" for the seeds. Celery seeds seem to respond to this method. When I am ready to plant, I allow the seeds to come to room temperature, and I soak them in water overnight. After, I strain them with a coffee filter, then make sure that when I plant the seeds, I do not allow them to go below the surface of the soil medium. Celery seeds absolutely need light to germinate. Then as always, I cover with plastic wrap until most or at least some have germinated. The plastic wrap provides a sufficiently humid environment for the seeds to germinate. Then I remove the plastic wrap and just let them do their thing.

Celery now at 4 weeks. All they need  now is sufficient water and plant food. As ancestral Celery were marsh plants modern Celery needs to be kept constantly damp. Note I said damp, not wet. They are also heavy feeders, needing rich soil more so than most other vegetables. In another week, I will begin to mix a little fish emulsion into the water. I have found that as a plant food, fish emulsion works for me.

Leeks planted back in early February, at the same time as the celery. Now four weeks later, they need only water and a hair cut once a week. I keep them trimmed to 4" to 5" until it's time to transplant for two reasons, one I need them to fit under my lights, two I believe that doing so, results in a healthier, thicker leek.

After this weeks hair cut.

Cabbage at only one week. One of the easier vegetables to grow from seed. Just plant and water. Cover with plastic wrap until they germinate.

One week old tomato seedlings. Not 100% germination yet, but getting there.

Cover the seeds, they germinate better in the dark. Keep the soil temp as close as possible to 80° for prompt germination. Keep as near as possible to 60° after germination. Chilling to induce early bloom often works well, but it must be done early, when the first true leaves are opening up and the plant is only about 1 1/2" tall. Night temperatures of 50°-55° for two to three weeks are usually effective. Do not set out before reasonably sure that it is past the last frost. Bury tomato plants parallel to the soil surface, right up to the top tuft of leaves. dig a long shallow trench, not a deep hole, that is too cold for roots. Need an ample supply of potash and phosphorus. Dig in rock phosphorus and bone meal before transplanting. Avoid too much Nitrogen. Add Nitrogen at bloom by adding diluted fish emulsion. After mid June add mulch, not before. For staked plants prune suckers that appear in the leaf axils. Do not smoke around tomato plants. Try to use black mulch under plants. Remove prior to summer or add topping of hay/straw mulch to keep soil from getting too hot.

Tobacco Mosaic Virus- Do not plant Tomato and Pepper seedlings in the same bed. Spray seedlings with skim milk to lowers the PH on the surface of the leaves so they are less susceptible to mildew and viral infections.

Tomatoes are subject to Tobacco Mosaic Virus just like Peppers. Adhere to the preventative measures set forth in the previous post entitled Peppers and Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

Peppers after two weeks. I think that peppers are one of the hardest seeds to get to germinate. I still don't have 100% germination. I hope in another week, the remaining seeds will germinate.

Pepper seedlings, I added this just because I thought it was a cool picture.

So that is it for now, I have melons, cucumber and pumpkin to plant in coming weeks. The 1st of the seedlings will go into dirt a month from now. 

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