It's been raining a lot here, which is fabulous, but after a while it gets a little dreary no matter how delighted one is to get measurable moisture. And then last night I turned on the Victory Garden's Edible Feast and a chef was making a tomato confit, and I swear my mouth watered. Like every gardener, I'm dreaming of summer.
I've ordered the bulk of my seeds (this year from Baker Creek Seed Company, who has a newly opened office north of here); I start nearly everything in my garden from seed, outdoors in raised beds. However this method doesn't work as well for tomatoes and peppers, and in years past I've purchased those seedlings from the Master Gardeners. The volunteers do a great job raising the seeds, they have a decent selection of plants, and their profits go in to feeding the community, all of which is admirable.
And we've always had a decent harvest.
Last year, however, I did have a LOT of problems with my tomatoes, and I can't rule out infection from the seedlings as a possible reason. Plus, after reading Epic Tomatoes, I have a list of new tomatoes I want to try, and there is no guarantee the Master Gardeners will grow those particular varieties.
Enter seed starting indoors. I haven't tackled this before because it seemed so daunting, not to mention expensive. But I had a gift certificate with Amazon, and they had a kit for sale there that was all-inclusive and reasonable, and so I went ahead and ordered it. It may not suit my needs, but it's a good beginner kit, and if I get obsessive later (as I tend to do), I can always upgrade. I'm hoping that I can place this kit (and the seeds) in my bedroom window, which is south-facing, and I won't have to use the lights the entire day. But, I've got 'em if I need 'em. The kit comes from HTG and includes an adjustable grow light, a heating pad, a domed seed starting tray, and seed starting medium. As the seedlings grow, I will probably buy some larger pots to transplant in to - probably Cow Pots. And then they'll need to harden off outside at some point.
So I had to think about time. If I want to plant my tomato and pepper seedlings May 1, I need to start the hardening-off process around the middle of April. Which means I need to start the seeds indoors the middle of February. Which isn't that far away! I'll hopefully get the kit from Amazon in time (it didn't come with Prime shipping). Next I ordered the seeds, and that was fun - I went to Seed Savers Exchange for those. Here's what I got:
Slicing Tomatoes: Kellogg's Breakfast, Dester, Black Krim, Nebraska Wedding, Cherokee Purple, and Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain).
Paste Tomatoes: Opalka, Amish Paste, and Federle.
Cherry Tomatoes: Mexico Midget, Black Cherry, and Yellow Pear.
Sweet Peppers: Chocolate Beauty, Bull Nose Bell, Sheepnose Pimento, and Jimmy Nardello.
Hot Peppers: Maule's Red Hot Cayenne, Jalapeno Traveler.
All but one of the slicing tomatoes (Cherokee Purple) is new to me. I have one new paste (Federle) and one new cherry (Mexico Midget). As for peppers, I've grown only Jalepeno and Jimmy Nardello before, the rest are new to me this year.
I figure if my seed starting experiment doesn't work, I'll head on over to the Master Gardener's sale in mid-April, so I've got a back up plan. I'll let you know how it goes!
Any experience you have with growing these varities/ starting seed indoors that you can share with me would be welcomed!