Monday, March 18, 2013

Sowing Pepper Seeds

Yesterday I put together a list of plants that need to be started indoors in the month of March.  I got the information for starting dates right off of the seed packets.  However, I decided to consult 2 of my "seed starting" books, Seed Sowing and Saving, and The New Seed Starters HandbookTNSSH suggested starting the pepper plants as early as late January or February, so I decided to start mine a couple of weeks before schedule: Today!

I decided to put my learning to use.  The first thing I did was drill lots of holes on the bottom of a large 20" x 10" flat.  The reason for doing this is so that it will fit into another flat of the same size, so that I can water the seedlings from underneath. This was very easy.

Then, I sterilized the flats, water sprayer and spoon in a bleach solution - 9 parts water, 1 part bleach (I did this in the bathroom while wearing my white bathrobe).  My only thought here was that I wasn't sure whether to sterilize all the flats, since I had the solution ready to go.  I guess my concern is that the flats will only get germy while waiting around to be used at a later date. March 26- I learned in my WMMGA class today that the sterilized containers are only good for 2 hours; you can't wash everything in the bleach solution and leave overnight.

OK. Now in the kitchen.  This is when I realized that it would be great to have my own little space somewhere in the house where I can do this work.  I think I'm going to have to invest in a table and shelves and more lighting.  This reminds me that I'd like to do a post on "equipment". 

So, I filled the flat with holes with maybe an inch of sterilized soil (8 qt. bag for $2.00 from OSJL).  I used a straw to make 1/4-inch indentations in the soil for the seeds.  I planted 2 different kinds of seeds:  sweet peppers (Carmen) and green-to-red bell peppers (Snapper). All was going well until I had to water them.  I poured a 1/2-inch of water into the bottom flat and laid the seed flat on top.  It just floated.  And that's when I remembered that it's very difficult to water seed starting medium, and that I should have moistened it before I started.

I emptied out the bottom tray and decided to spray the surface of the seed flat with a fine mist instead.  This, too, is difficult in that the water seems to stay on top instead of soaking into the soil.  Oh well.  I sprayed a couple of ounces and covered the flat with plastic wrap.  This step made me realize that it would be awfully nice to have durable plastic covers.  Maybe some day.  This "hobby" can get expensive.

The flat is now sitting on a bookshelf in my bedroom, with a heating mat underneath.  Pepper seeds need the soil temperature to be at least 80F in order to germinate.  I have my trusty little laser thermometer nearby to give me readings.  The soil was 66 degrees about 15 minutes ago. It's now 69 degrees... 10 more to go!

My book says the seeds could take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate, but perhaps not so long at 80 degrees.  In another book I read that pepper seeds take about 10 days to germinate.  Either way, I hope this works.  I tried to grow peppers from seed last year, but they never even sprouted.  I later learned that the soil was too cold.

Reminder:  Label the flats so you know which plants are which.

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