photo credit: Mike the Gardener
|Spring has sprung here in zone 7a, well, by date only. We received a spring snowstorm so that put a damper on gardening projects. With that said, thankfully I have a lot of plants growing indoors under my grow light set up.
I wanted to focus in on today, my peppers, eggplant and tomatoes that I am growing indoors and how I am doing it. I do very well with my method, not that it is any real secret what I do, but I thought I’d share, and hopefully you can use the information.
When I start my pepper, eggplant and tomato seeds indoors, two things are always very important. One, they need lots of light, and two, they need lots of heat. But before I get to how I achieve those two items successfully, let me tell you what I am using to plant them in to give you an idea of what I use.
WHAT DO I START MY PEPPER, EGGPLANT AND TOMATO SEEDS IN?For starters, I use a basic seed starting tray. The tray I have has 72 individual cells in it which is plenty for my needs for all of the plants that I will be growing. Sometimes I grow more peppers than eggplant or tomatoes in a given season and sometimes I grow the others more. You get the point, but 72 is plenty for me.
Photo credit: Mike the Gardener
WHAT KIND OF SOIL DO I USE?There are two brands of soil that I use to start my seeds in. I will either use an organic potting soil that is available at my local home or garden center, or I will make my own by mixing peat, compost and perlite in equal parts. You may be asking yourself why doesn't he just choose one or the other? The answer is, it depends on what is on sale at a better price. Both types give me equal performance.
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HOW DO YOU GET ENOUGH LIGHT AND HEAT?Now to the nuts and bolts of this operation, and believe me there are no trade secrets here. This is what I do every year. I have tweaked it over time to meet my personal needs, but the basic concepts still work. For the light I use a basic grow light set up. You will see in the video above I use shop lights with 40 watt fluorescent bulbs. It is an inexpensive setup and replacement bulbs are cheap. For my peppers, eggplant and tomatoes I keep the lights on from 6am to 9pm daily.
As for heat, I place a heat mat underneath the tray in which the seeds are planted. Peppers, eggplant and tomatoes absolutely love heat, and the heat mat gives it to them. You will experience better germination times and rates with a heat mat as opposed to not using one at all (in my experience). Well worth the investment if you are trying to get a jump start on your gardening season. You can see the example of the heat mat that I use in the video above.
To water my seedlings I will lift up the seed tray and water from underneath. This helps prevent compacting the soil, and more importantly, from making a mess, which I tend to already have a knack for without additional help.
Once the plants grow a few sets of additional leaves I will begin either transplanting them to the outdoors if the weather permits or into bigger containers so they can continue to grow inside until the weather does cooperate.
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