There is a garage full of transplanted seedlings....
There is a garage full of transplanted seedlings....
Come back later and we shall see how things progress today - the sun is out! Time to get busy....
And here we are! Success - it has begun! The eggplant, peppers and early alphabet tomatoes are sunning themselves - at last!
Brrrrr....that was a really cold morning. I am really glad that I brought anything tender into the garage (including all of my Lantana and other tender perennials that lived in safety all winter). Mid-morning, once the thermometer read 40 degrees, all of the greens and beets headed back outside, along with all large potted perennials. I resumed transplanting tomatoes, and made it to the "F" (as in Ferris Wheel). Yet, I resisted putting out any eggplant, peppers or tomatoes, and even took in the basil again tonight. It is chilly!
But tomorrow will be different - it is time. Out go the flats of eggplant, hot and sweet peppers, and the beginning of the alphabet tomatoes. If all goes well, I will get most (all?) of the indeterminate tomatoes transplanted - then on Tuesday, run through the dwarfs. And then we wait for the (hopefully coming) warmer weather and time to do the trick and size up the plants sufficiently to be able to leave home.
Mid April is possible....especially if you don't mind the plants on the small side. Another week, though, may be necessary. In looking back, last year we had unusual early warmth which pushed things ahead by a week. In general, this year is on track with most springs, though.
Patience is a virtue - it is nearly time!
Those of you who know the drill with my seedling process (no greenhouse, watching the night time temps, an occasional complete relocation of plants into the garage) understand the challenge of the next week or so. Thus far, my modifications are serving the plants well. By moving all of the crowded plugs of seedlings into 3.5 inch pots they are thriving. I have transplanted flats of all peppers, eggplant, and ground cherries, and I am up to "C" with the tomatoes, along with the few Mexico Midgets that came up and all Sun Gold cherry tomatoes. And NOTHING is yet outdoors - my garage, which smells like rich potting mix, is an essentially stuffed full staging ground for the plants as I await the green light to put them out.
We just watched "Marathon Man" a few weeks ago, and the situation with plants reminds me of the line "Is it safe?" Well, it's not safe today, but could be tomorrow - and certainly by Monday. Tonight is going to be a cold one, though. The impact on timing is yet to be determined - but there is nothing wrong with letting the recently separated, somewhat shocked, adjusting seedlings have a few days in the cozy garage.
Latest date estimate on plant readiness remains mid April - but lots will depend upon day (and even more important, night time temps - seedlings seem to really advance when we get some mild overnight temps). I will get some pics posted later on today. But I am at am impasse - no more transplanting until I have some room to put the finished flats!
Fresh from a great trip to the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, my attention is now completely focused on transplanting seedlings so that they are ready when the weather is - and you are!
As of tonight (March 23), the first set of eggplant and hot peppers are settled in to 3.5 inch pots and resting in my garage. If all goes well, tomorrow will involve working with sweet peppers, ground cherries, and the beginning of tomatoes. My goal is to get some of everything transplanted over the coming few days.
The list of varieties, as always, is on a separate page on this website - here.
Because of the release of my book, Epic Tomatoes, interest in seedlings could be a bit higher than usual this year. If you know what you would like to grow, please send me a list - just email it to me and I will store it in a special folder. Once the plants are ready, we can work out pick up times.
I've noticed that with the dense planting method, the cells dry out quite quickly, which isn't great when heading out of town for a few days. I just finished moving each cell of seedlings, without separating them, into 3.5 inch pots, which provides much more growing medium - hence moisture - to help them stay healthy and vigorous as I get to transplanting them individually into their own pots.
My idea for this actually came over the past few seasons, when I've noticed that the seedlings seem to develop a bit faster (true leaves get larger) prior to separation - of course, this is because once separated, the seedlings then have to adjust to their new environment, which takes longer when they are smaller (less developed root systems). If this works as well as I expect, my seedlings will be larger, sooner.
Everything looks great at this point as we head out to Virginia for a book related event - off tomorrow, back on Saturday - and then I get down to some serious transplanting, filling the driveway in preparation for our seedling sales (which should begin in mid-April).
There are no changes to the lists....and germination of the vast majority of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and ground cherries seems excellent.
Actually I did get some transplanting done yesterday - all beets are in individual cells, as is swiss chard and leeks. Basil, Red Russian Kale, Collards, arugula and lettuce are in 3.5 inch pots containing from 6-9 plants. Things are progressing well....now let's just hope for some mild evenings (and no frost!).
Left pic - all of the seedlings (two full tomatoes, one part peppers one part eggplant, one greens and herbs and beets and chard, etc - and one mostly tomatoes and some pepper and eggplant replants and experimental varieties.
Center pic - close up of one of the tomato flats
Right pic - the set up! Planting mix, pots, all ready to go for tomorrow!
Now...most valuable ingredient - some mild nights....and no more frost!
Back from the cold, snowy north; yesterday the seedlings went outside to enjoy the mild North Carolina weather
What a treat to find the seedlings in such good shape after our Philadelphia/Virginia/Baltimore book promo adventure. Our daughter Caitlin inherited the green thumbs!
I started easing the seedlings into the elements yesterday - they enjoyed filtered sun for a few hours, and came through beautifully. Above pics - top row - the various plants that were wintered over in the garage (walking iris, geraniums, lantana, hibiscus, orange trees, ferns, some herbs, etc), a view of the seedlings on a table in the driveway, flat of beets greens and herbs. Middle row - the two main tomato flats, the pepper and eggplant flat. Bottom - another view of the seedling table.
I am getting the garage organized for transplanting and will soon be purchasing materials and getting to it. Cue the music!
Well, we are off again. Tomorrow mid morning, we head north - to Richmond for my next book-related event. Then it is off to Philadelphia....then to Boyce, VA - then Baltimore. When we head home on Tuesday, it will be time to start transplanting seedlings. It's hard to believe - and the wintry weather we will see in the next few days (when contrasted with today's 70s) will be temperature whiplash type stuff. Yet, looking ahead, the low temps of the next few days may - MAY - be among the last frosts of the season. We shall see.
The good news is that all flats of seedlings are now under lights in the garage. Pics below were taken just now.
See! Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, beets and more. For the mo