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)
Bullnose bell peppers
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.
Gardening in Texas is unique. Gardening in North Texas is more unique still. Due to our climate, we have a very long growing season. I have plants in my gardens that start strutting their stuff in late February and don't fizzle out until the first frost. We can grow some colder climate plants and some warmer climate plants. The blazing summer temperatures set in about May and continue through September, so smart gardeners grow plants native to Texas that require little water.
Full sun in Texas does not mean the same thing as full sun in other parts of the country. Most full sun plants grown easily in other areas of the US need part shade in Texas. Plants that have "average" water needs for other parts of the country require extra water here in Texas. Gardening in Texas is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Almost everything I've learned has been through trial and error.