Tomato seeds planted inside-March 21

Bleaching pots before use

drying on an OLD towel

Last evening I planted my tomato seeds-both heirloom and hybrid seeds. I brought out and set up the light boxes and heating mats last week. Before planting my seeds, I always clean the little pots with some bleach water that I use for starting tomato seedlings. It’s important to disinfect the pots because you don’t want your plants to pick up any soil borne diseases. I use about a 10%  bleach to water ratio.  I use the kitchen sink and try to not get dirt everywhere from the used pots. The trick is to convince your partner that it is ok! Just tell them you are disinfecting the sinks out (which is true)! I picked up the seed starting soil-Metro mix 300 from Agua Fria Nursery last week. It comes in a big bag but you will be planting up into larger containers in a few days after the second set of true leaves appear and besides if you have any left over, you can use it for next year. I’ve bought many seed starting soil mixes (usually at the big box stores) and hate the way the water rolls off of the soil when you first go to use it. With this soil mix (Metro Mix 300) I just plant the tomato seeds about 1/4 inch deep and water it all at once. It saves time and anything that saves time I like!

Metro Mix 300

After I water the seeds, I put them under my lights and on top of a heating mat which is great for warming the soil for the seeds to germinate. I’m starting the tomatoes later this year because last year I started the first week of March and they got too big-about 3-4 feet tall because I couldn’t put them out with the cold spring we had.  This year I’m hoping to get them transplanted into the garden around mid April (with protection) weather permitting. Why do I think I might be able to get them in early this year? We are in a La Nina which generally means warmer weather in spring but less rain. By planting them later if I have to, they shouldn’t be as big as last year.

seeds on heat mat

Growers lightbox tips for starting seedlings

Hey- I did I mention that the site where I did my plans for my garden this year is also a good source of other info on growing veggies. I just found a great article which you may want to check out which addresses pretty much how I use my “lightbox” to get my seedlings started that I just planted on Mar.1.  I use a lightbox instead of a greenhouse or hoophouse. Here is the link for the article at www.growveg.com.  I made my own lightbox as seen in my previous entry but of course you can buy one at considerably higher cost. Your choice.

TIPS FOR STARTING SEEDS UNDER A LIGHTBOX

I’m waiting for my seeds to germinate. They are on a heat mat to help with germination and I cover them with a clear top which keeps the moisture in. After the seedlings germinate, I will move the lights down within 2″  of the baby seedlings and take them off the heat mat and take off the cover so they don’t stay too moist as that is a condition for a fungal disease called damping-off which kills seedlings. To help prevent this besides taking off the clear cover, I spray the little seedlings every few days with Chamoille tea which I just make up a pot of it  (cool it) and put it in a little hand held sprayer and spray the seedlings AND soil every few days-it really works-no dead seedlings!