Exploring Options with peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant

kawaiineko_gardener(5a)November 29, 2010

Since where I live has a very short growing season, and it's in regards to extending the season for warm weather vegetables that take longer mature and harvest, this is the place I'm posting it and why.

I have two options. The first is to grow transplants indoors and harden them off, then

transplant. The 2nd is to use early-maturing varieties that are more tolerant of cold-weather

and direct sow them outdoors.

Unfortunately with both options, there is the potential for it to turn problematic.

With growing transplants indoors I don't even know if it will be feasible due to limited space and finances.

Even if I can, I'm reluctant to do so, because

I'm concerned I'll kill my plants when I transplant them, or if they survive transplantation, I'll kill them when I harden them off.

This past summer, I tried to direct-sow bell pepper seeds, cherry tomato seeds, and eggplant.

Unfortunately the germination rate was very low, and the few seeds that germinated took a very long time to do so.

I have a question about some descriptions of seed varieties. A catalog I was looking

thru, has some "cold tolerant" varieties of bell peppers, tomatoes (cherry, plum, grape beefsteak, and slicers)

and eggplant. Does this mean that they can be set out earlier than the more tender varieties (as in early spring, like mid-April or beginning of May)?

Would they need some sort of 'boost' until they germinate (with keeping temperatures consistently warm) so they'll germinate?

Even if the seeds germinate when direct sown outside, I'm afraid they won't reach maturity in time to harvest ripe fruit. As stated at the beginning of the post, where I live has a very short growing season, and a very short period of time of warm weather. I live in the upper part of the lower peninsula in northern Michigan. Spring doesn't even start here until about May, and that's if there hasn't been a harsh and long winter.

I'd be growing them in containers, so I don't know if floating row covers would be feasible.

The most viable option would be bottle cloches (pop bottles with slits cut in them for ventilation)

and black mulch (the plastic rolls that warm soil). I'm concerned about using the black mulch,

cause I'm afraid that the seedlings wouldn't get the ventilation they need and when they germinate,

they would be suffocated and not be able to break thru the soil due to the weight of the black mulch.

I know it doesn't seem very heavy, but seedlings are very fragile and weak when they first germinate.

I know I could cut a hole around a portion of the black mulch, but then wouldn't that defeat the purpose of using

it because the cut portion of the soil wouldn't be as warm as the area covered with soil mulch?

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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Contact the Michigan County Extension Office in your county. They would have the best ideas for dealing with conditions specific to your area.


Here is a link that might be useful: MSU Extension Offices

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 9:44PM
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In N michigan I start tomatoes inside and transplant outside about a week after memorial day. I've tried peppers for 3 years and start inside with the tomatoes to grow a nice plant, but they are just starting to get actual pepper buds for our first freeze so have not gotten any peppers from them. Eggplant seems to do okay started inside, you will get some before freezing, but not a whole lot. It's challenging growing with our short season, maybe other people have better suggestions.

A friend of mine who also lives in N Michigan started heat loving seedlings out in a rectangle of hay bales with an insulated glass door on top creating a mini greenhouse. She got great peppers and tomatoes that way.

I've tried cold weather tomatoes and found them to be not any more tolerant than regular. Once their leaves are frosted and the stem limps over, there is not much you can do.

We have an unheated greenhouse that came with the house we bought and last year I tried putting seedlings out there, but fried the poor things in about 2 hours. The temp was over 100 degrees.

It's a delicate dance we perform to have fresh veggies come July.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Since peppers, tomatoes and eggplant are all heat loving plants i think cold tolerant means that they will produce fruit where the summer temperature does not regularly get above the high 80's F

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 6:32PM
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