Seed Starter’s Roll Call

Late March is the busiest time of year under my seed-starting lights. I’ve got assorted tomatoes and gypsy peppers up and growing right now. The tomatoes are nearing pot-up time but the peppers are slower to get up and go.

I’ve also got brassicas which are pouring out and over their small 72-count cell-packs. It is past time to get these guys transplanted out to the garden but I’ve been so focused on The Great Chicken Adventure this past week that all green and growing things have been put on hold.

This tray is holding cauliflower, broccoli, kale and fennel (not a brassica, but it sounded good when I was seeding the flat).

As soon as the brasssicas move out to the greenhouse to harden off I will start my squashes. I know people debate starting these crops inside at all but I have started them as early as late February and done okay. Starting them that early means their roots are barely filling out gallon pots and have to be very delicately transplanted. It also means pre-warming the soil with black plastic mulch and cloching for temperature regulation. I just didn’t want to work that hard this year, so I’m shooting for April 1 as my squash starting date.
I’ve already transplanted my first batch of cabbages, parsley and lettuces out to the garden, and have interplanted part of this years onion crop with strawberries.

As is typical, the main spring gardening season is barely begun and I’m already trying to figure out where to squeeze in more plants.
Seed Starter’s Roll Call: do you start your own seeds indoors under lights or go with nursery transplants? What do you have growing under lights, what have you gotten in the ground, what are you planning?


  1. says

    I start most everything myself. Right now I have hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, basil, brassicas and lettuce under the lights. If if would just warm up here in New England, I could get a few of the brassicas out.

  2. says

    I'm starting everything myself – first time though. I usually direct seed and buy seedlings. I haven't started nearly as much as you, but I think it's because its much cooler here. I was thinking of transplanting some of my seedlings today, but it's raining like crazy and I'm worried they'd get squashed. I don't have my beds set up for polytunnels yet – maybe this weekend.
    I've started cauliflower, cabbage, squash, strawberries (FAILED!), leeks, onions, mesclun mix and runner beans.

  3. Saskia says

    I'm starting most things from seed for the first time, too. I have lettuces, kale, lots of tomatoes (ready to go out in Calif. now), hot and bell peppers, eggplant, basil and marigolds for attracting beneficials. Just started some cuke seeds, which I've read should go in the ground within 3 weeks. Next project is a bunch of herb seeds. Erica–do you ever start seeds in the greenhouse, or do you start them all inside under lights?

  4. says

    I start everything myself. It would just get to be too expensive to do transplants for our scale of growing. Now if I can just figure out a way to beat out those seedcorn maggots…

  5. says

    my climate is much closer to wolfandfinch, so i'm behind ya too… i try and start most of my own, but this year i bought 6 cauliflower, a pkg of shallots and bundle of walla walla onions… my 'greenhouse' is to cold early on, but right now i have a healthy crop of lettuces, onions, cress, arugula doing their thing and the peppers and tomatoes are just not doing it this year… so far….

  6. says

    Saskia – I harden things off in the greenhouse but have not attempted to start seeds there. It's unheated and in late Feb when I'm starting the heat lovers I think germination would take way too long. I might have luck doing long-lead coles and lettuces but I'd guess I'd still have to plan for a 14-21 day germination even on those. If I were in Cali, I would not hesitate to seed start in a greenhouse or under a plastic hoop-cloche. It's certainly more eco-friendly. That said, I have heard of people doing this in the Pac NW, so I'm sure it's possible.

  7. says

    We have tomatoes, hot peppers, bell peppers & basil started under grow lights. Outside under the plastic hoop we have lettuce, kale & beets coming up allready in south central Pennsylvania. Going to be starting some more peppers & squash soon.

  8. says

    We have onions (red and white), basil in cells for the market, cilantro, lettuces. We can't put out tomatoes, peppers etc. until June 1, so we don't start them until this weekend. I'm just switching over to self-starting after a couple of years of purchasing plants because we're ramping up production for a stand at the market this summer!

  9. says

    I have started everything inside this year, but not under lights. I got the seed starter kits at Home Depot and have them in my front window which gets the most light. I leave the lids on until sprouts appear, then prop the lid and then remove the lid once all (or all but a couple) have sprouted. Have started many kinds of lettuces, lots and lots of tomatoes, peppers, corn, beans, pumpkins, zucchini, onions, leeks, chard, peas, different kinds of herbs, and many others! I am just finishing installing the hoops on our raised beds and then will harden off and plant outside. It's gonna be great!

  10. says

    We have a lot of flowers and greens started on the kitchen table inside a sunny south-facing window where the seedlings can survey their future home in the garden. We'll let the professionals start our tomatoes and baby them in a greenhouse for a while, then get them at the West Seattle farmer's market. Starts from there for bok choi, lettuce, onions are already in the ground, as are carrots started from seed and peeking up.

  11. says

    I start everything indoors. I have a cold frame that I intended to use this year, but I'd overwintered some tender perennials in it this winter (which worked out rather well). Next year I will be making use of the cold frame and probably winter sowing some things.

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