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how-to on starts – peppers and leeks

For all who don’t know, Memorial Day weekend tends to be the “golden rule” in terms of when you can expect to be able to safely transplant/ sow seeds outdoors in Montanan weather.  But that’s a general rule and this has been ANYTHING BUT a general year weather-wise  :P

On a side-note, maybe a little mystery is alright given that so often today, our culture is OBSESSED with knowledge and access to knowledge in an utterly unprecedented way.  In this instance, however, I have no choice but to give in and accept the fact that the “when” of actually putting plants in the ground will to some extent remain a mystery and an educated guess at best :)

That said, this past weekend, I foraged ahead with an “educated guess” and planted starts for my longest-transplant-readying plants – leeks and peppers.

In terms of how many plants to start, I chose to double what I plan to actually put in my garden just in case some don’t go.  FYI before you start anything, make sure you have a garden planned out so you know what needs to be started and how many plants you have space for!  That way you won’t waste money on extra seeds :)

Germination Set-up…
I’m using two different types of biodegradable containers: store-bought “all natural fiber seed starter” and normal egg-cartons

Soil-wise I was torn.  A 50:50 mix of peat and either vermiculite or perlite was recommended to me but the moral issues with using an unsustainable medium like peat gave me pause.  At the end of the day, I decided to  experiment with two different types: Black Gold Organic Seedling Mix and Glacier Gold Professional Grower’s Blend (which I have had great success with in my normal beds but have never tried with starts)

Pepper basic stats – Cal Wonder 300 and Early Jalapenos
– Start indoors 7-10 weeks before transplanting
– Plant seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch
– Germination in 15-20 days (optimum soil temp – mid-70’s)

Leek basic stats – American Flag
– Start indoors 9 weeks before transplanting
– Plant seeds at a depth of 1/4 inch
– Germination in 10 days (optimum soil temp – mid-70’s)

Step-by-step:
– Fill cartons with seed starting soil.
– Wet soil thoroughly with warm water.
– Using an eraser-end of a pencil, make small indentations in the soil to the necessary depth (in this case 1/4 inch).
– Place two seeds in each indent and cover loosely with soil (you will thin the less successful plant later leaving one healthy start per carton section).
– Water again if necessary and cover containers with a clear greenhouse dome or in my how-bout-I-don’t-buy-any-more-gardening-gadgets case, clear plastic wrap.  This will help maintain moisture.
– Until the seeds sprout, NEVER LET THE SOIL DRY OUT.  Always use lukewarm water when watering.
– Place seeds in a warm place to germinate (like on top of a refrigerator).  Your goal is to keep the soil in the mid-low 70 degree range until the seeds sprout.

And now we wait :)

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This entry was posted on March 19, 2012 by in montana gardening journal and tagged , , , , .

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