Time To Start Seedlings
Tomatoes and chili peppers are a staple in our vegetable garden. We love trying new kinds of tomatoes for both color and taste. Once we find the one we like we cull seeds to grow the year after. Four kinds of tomato we have been growing every year because they have a marvelous taste are Cherokee purple, Mortgage Lifter , Brandywine and Rose. We fell in love with the Cherokee purple at first bite, with its thin skin, juicyness and full tomato taste. The rest are big, meaty and tasty. We vouch for these four tomatoes anytime we’re asked. We let the cherry tomatoes self-sow year after year. I have no idea what type of cherry tomato they are, but they’re very sweet. At this point I should call them ‘Resident Tomato’ since they seem to come up by themselves all over the yard every year.
We both love spicy food hence the collection of chili peppers. I try to add some new kinds of chili pepper every year. Some are harder to grow than others. And, growing chili peppers in a cold climate is a challenge.
Growing tomato and chili pepper in the Northeastern part of the US takes some good planning since the growing season is a little bit short for some them to grow, bear fruit and ripen. I have learned from vendors at the farmers market that the tomato and pepper plants they are selling were germinated in early March. So, I have been following their method.
This year I started my tomato and chili peppers on March 8, never mind the snow and freezing cold out side. I put seed trays on heat mats set to 80° Fahrenheit by the bay window. Natural sunlight is enough for now and I don’t have room in the basement to add trays there. It’s too cold down there anyway. Some tomatoes sprouted within 5 days but the chili peppers take a little bit longer. I usually see them sprout up within a week, providing that the heat mat stays between 75 and 80 degrees at all time.
Now I have to wait for the true leaves to come up before I can put them in their individual pots, should be one more week now.
So far most tomato and chili pepper seeds have sprouted:
- The large tomatoes: Mortgage lifter, Rose, Brandywine, Cherokee purple and Chocolate
- Cherry tomato: Indigo cherry drop, Razzleberry, Tomatoberry and Nova
- Chili pepper: Bhut Jolokia, Sikkim, Purira, Korean chili, Karen chili (tribal), Jamaican Red, Jamaican yellow, Himalayan yellow, Lemon drop, Wild Brazil, South Indian chili, Yellow torch, Long Thai, Thai Bird chili, Scotch Bonnet, Mexican chili, Yellow Thai chili
I forgot to put baby bell and Shishito peppers in, so I will have to buy the plants for this season. They are very mild and good for snacking. I may be able to start the Shishito now though since I will stir-fry the peppers when they still green, no need for maturity.
The gourmet growing season has begun!