Several weeks ago, we began our annual preparations for our vegetable garden. One of the cost saving tasks we do, is to begin some of our vegetable plants from seed. So off to my friendly local Lowe’s Store I went to grab some of the little mini-greenhouse starter kits in the garden section. I picked up the various types of starter kits. All came with the little compressed soil pellets, which I am not very fond of, but they do work. I noticed a 10 day watering variety that I had not seen before and picked up one of those, plus the basic kit without the special extended watering feature.
Either kit you choose will do fine. I used the 10 day kit to begin my Pesto garden seeds, aka basil varieties, lemon,lime and spicy globe and had room left over for my tomatillos and heirloom tomatoes. 14 days into the process, my tomatoes and all of my basil are up, but only a few of the tomatillo plants have broken ground. Ok, here is where the 10 day system may not be the best system for me. I noticed the soil looked like dried coffee grounds yesterday and since I had not added water to the basin in two weeks, I stressed my baby plants. I added water and within a few hours the plants had perked back up again. What is the old adage, “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
Now in the basic kit I added my three varieties of watermelons the week following planting the herbs and tomatoes. The watermelons have sprouted and already are several inches long. If you are like me, this early gardening stuff is one of the most fun parts of gardening. Shoot, even the kids are checking the little black trays scattered everywhere to see what has come up and trying to guess what the plants are based on the little green shoots. So in our house, watering the trays as needed even with the basic kits is not an issue. But for some people who travel this time of year, I can definitely see where that feature would come in handy.
It is not too late to begin your plants from seed. I would add a word of caution, when beginning seeds indoors, even though our mild winter will soon be over, be wary of late season frosts. Each of my trays holds 72 plants and with many trays the idea of having to cover up hundreds of tender plants in the garden is not very appealing. I will plant some of my seedlings in the next week, but the majority I will save until April when all danger of frost has passed here in the Deep South. If the early plants aren’t killed by a frost, then I will still have some plants that bear early. And like me, I know you can’t wait to taste fresh home grown produce Hot house tomatoes do not make for good Caprese, period. So go ahead, get those seeds started now. Maybe order varieties or choose varieties that are available in seed but not available locally as plants.