Exploring Options with peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant
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?