Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time to Plant Tomatoes and Peppers!

 It's that time in Texas, folks.  This year, I planted my spring tomatoes and peppers two weeks ago.  I usually start them sometime around the first of the year, but I'm running behind this year. (Go figure!)  My set up is very basic.  I use old shop shelving units with bed slats for shelves to allow for circulation and two old shop lights with one "cool" bulb and one "warm" bulb.  This year, I have a heat mat, but in years past, I've just used a space heater on the bottom shelf of my set up and hung old shower curtain liners from shower curtain hooks around the top of my shelving unit to hold heat in.  I also run the ceiling fan in our spare bedroom to keep mold and mildew at bay. 

So far, I've planted:
  • Pantano Romanesco tomatoes
  • Super Sioux tomatoes (new for us this year)
  • Marmande tomatoes
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Bullnose bell peppers
  • Purple Tomatillos
I also make my own seed starting mix.  I start with a good, organic potting soil.  I like Ladybug Brand Vortex Potting Soil.  To that, I add some compost, earthworm castings, green sand, and lava sand.  I mix about 5 parts potting soil, 3 parts compost, and 1 part everything else.  I water with warm water to help raise the soil temperature and to aid in soil germination.  I water the soil with a very weak liquid fertilizer and then drop my seeds on top of the wet soil.  Cover with a bit of planting mix and spritz with warm water in a squirt bottle.  Until the seeds germinate, I spritz with warm water once a day.  For the cups on the heat mat, I spritzed twice a day.