anyone starting seeds yet?

little_minnie(zone 4a)February 24, 2012

I rushed things last year and then we had a late spring, but don't you think this year will be an early spring?

I have started leeks, shallots, scallions, perennials, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I normally don't start brassicas so early but I figure they may be able to go out with row cover very early in April and will be in the greenhouse in March. I will do another sowing of brassicas in 2 weeks and again later. I also started my super hot peppers in paper towels this week (bhut jolokia, naga dorset etc). I think next week or the week after for peppers and eggplant. Middle of March for tomatoes.

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First I must state that I don't sell plants so I don't have to time the production of my plants to that market. I would definitely be starting plants earlier if that were the case.

My goal is to avoid starting anything in February to avoid high electricity bills related to starting seeds under lights and heating the room where I start and grow my seedlings.

The earliest thing I start is impatiens around March 07. If I start anything any sooner the plants just get too big and root-bound for my preferred pot size by planting time. Cabbage, cauli, broccoli, and hot peppers are started around March 21. Sweet peppers and herbs are started around April 01. Tomatoes and the typical annual flowers like marigolds are started around April 7.

I don't have a greenhouse but I use home-built grow boxes for the seedlings to take advantage of natural light under sheltered conditions. The first one is always set up around March 21. Seedling flats are set out on warm sunny days and brought back in when the sun gets low on the horizon. I have two pictures of my grow boxes on my seed exchange page if anyone is curious what they look like.

Last spring was pretty poor, wasn't it? Hope we don't have another one like that for a while. Sure looks like the opposite is going to occur this year - on a recent ag report I heard that much of Minnesota is in moderate to severe drought conditions that have carried over from last fall. Not a good sign for the coming season. We have had little snow cover all winter and very dry soil since last September in my area, although the rain(!) we got last Monday certainly helped. Farmers around me are expecting drought and are purchasing crop insurance for this year.

For me it is not about an early or late spring, it will always be a combination of the average last frost date, whether the soil is dry enough to be worked, and the soil temperature at depth which dictates my planting schedule. I sow seed and plant starters following the same general schedule every year regardless of the seasonal variations. I know some folks that always like to take chances and try to cheat the season, and of course I always wish them good luck. Sometimes they are successful, but more often than not they end up scrambling to find replacements for the plants that died. They often end up taking my extras. Kind of like the tortoise and the hare. ;-)

Wishing a successful gardening season to all my fellow Minnesotans.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 12:05AM
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I started petunias and Lisianthus two weeks ago, I will probably start peppers and eggplant soon, and plan on an indoor crop of lettuce and arugula. Last year I started the brassicas in mid-March and had them in the beds with hoop covers about 5 weeks later. The cauliflower never made heads and the broccoli only made side shoots (but lots of them, all summer long) I am thinking that they will be happier if I dont have them in pots for so long, so I'll start later, or get them in the ground faster - havent decided yet.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 7:24AM
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I started my Onion seeds a week ago and a couple of Herb seeds.

Probably Broccoli this coming weekend, and maybe my Chili Peppers (de Arbol and Pequin).

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 9:54AM
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I get bored so I end up starting things early. Besides my 100+ winter sown jugs of perennial flowers outside; Inside I've started - Super hot peppers (late Jan), reg hot peppers (mid Feb) and just did my sweets. I have a decent size area in the lower basement with grow lights and in later March I put plants out in my 8 X 10 harbor freight greenhouse. The heater keeps it to 49 at night in there, get nice beefy stalks on the peppers and toms. My tomatoes will be started in later March, trying to hold off but again I get bored so who knows. By May I'm toting in dozens of plants to work to give away!

Maybe I'll try starting some other veggies too this year - cukes, squash, etc... instead of buying those.

I have a friend who wants me to srart Malabar spinach for him and his wife. I tried a few years ago and nothing sprouted. Any tips would be welcomed on getting them started.


    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:05AM
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Have 30 nice delphinium seedlings from a mid-January sowing in the basement under lights. Also Go-Go and Non-stop tuberous begonias. I'll start wave petunias this week, since I like to take cuttings, sometimes a couple of rounds, before plant-out in May. Doing about 50 varieties of tomatoes this year, but pushing the sow date up by three weeks (2nd week in March as opposed to end of March), with fingers crossed for an earlier spring; either that or another potting up and growing in a hoop house. Just itching to get my hands dirty.
Good luck to all. Gary

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 9:13AM
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I started the peppers, mint, thyme and eggplants last week. We'll see how germination goes. Planning on starting the tomatoes in about two weeks. Doing about 30 varieties this year. I did some test tomato seedlings about two months ago as it's my first year starting from seed. Those seedlings have been putted up twice and all have blossoms on them now. It's kind of silly, but I do like being able to go down to the basement, run my hands through the plants and get that great tomato plant smell.

I'm a huge fan of big winter and this one has been really disappointing so I'm trying to keep the spirits up by working on the garden stuff.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:53AM
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I hear you, misterpatrick. You've done what many of us would like to do but usually don't :-) Gary.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 8:40AM
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I can not wait to smell that tomato smell in a few months. Yes, this winter I've spent a lot of time in the basement grow room too. I was trying to hold off and not start any tomatoes for another couple weeks, but on Sat I sowed about a dozen varieties and again this mornig did another dozen or so. I have about 3 dozen more varieties picked out to sow, but trying to hold off, at least till next weekend.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 10:57AM
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Crazily enough, the stupice tomato now has tiny little tomatoes on it. I think I may start a couple of my determinate varieties this week. I guess worst case I have to pot them all the way up to gallon pots before end of May. Best case, these early varieties start giving me some nice early tomatoes in June!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 7:32PM
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I've set up a spreadsheet, with the starting dates timed to put outdoors the weekend before May 15th. There were a few items labeled to start 12 weeks out - broccoli, stevia, and pansies. I just started the 10 week items now - milkweed, lamb's ear, st. john's wort. Plus more broccoli ;)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 10:49PM
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My impatiens are germinating Woo Hoo! Took 3 1/2 days. 600 plants total, from my own seed stock that I harvested. (I always play it safe when harvesting so I have thousands of extra seeds left over if anyone wants some - not too late to start them. Email me if interested, but act soon.) I haven't purchased impatiens seeds for six years now.

I also have seeded 100 misc. hot peppers, 100 misc. early herbs for containers, 50 misc. eggplant, along with celery, celeriac, parsley root, leek, and early tomatoes for container growing. None of these are germinating yet that I am aware of, but most were only planted two or three days ago. Shouldn't be too long for most of them, though.

Next up today is to seed some early cabbage, cauli, and broccoli for the spring garden, along with cotton, ornamental alliums, and other miscellaneous perennial flowers. Then I will have a breather for a couple of weeks before starting tomatoes, sweet peppers, and common annual bedding flowers such as petunias, marigolds, coleus, etc.

I caught the spring fever badly now that I have the smell of wet soil in my nostrils. :)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 12:17PM
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zenpotter(z4 MN)

I keep wondering how soon my winter sowing will decide to start growing.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 4:23PM
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Soilent green I will be emailing you for impatiens seed. I do have a lot of unlisted stuff available for trade if you're interested.

I'm counting the hours until next weekend, which I have officially declared to be 8 weeks before last average frost. I have 400 peat pellets in the mail, and am sure they will be used up in no time. I've already gone through a couple hundred. Yikes! If I had better cash flow, I'd buy 1000 at a time.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 6:04PM
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I am starting to join little_minnie's bandwagon regarding the thought of an early spring. Hope it doesn't bite us - I don't trust our fickle Minnesota weather.

Maple syruping season around here has started and has ranged from mediocre to dismal. Looks like another bad season. Unusual weather to blame.

zenpotter - so you winter sow in containers that are then left outside? If so, the rain coming overnight and the warm temps and above freezing overnights forecast should get them going nicely. I will have to read up on winter sowing in the respective forum. Have never done it myself but it is sounding more and more interesting to me.

You mentioned Minnehaha Creek in your personal blurb. I put a lot of miles on those bike paths in my younger days. A beautiful stretch for being in a city, along with the chain of lakes of course. I hope this treasure is being taken good care of...

katkni - I sent a reply to your email.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 12:53AM
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