Perfekta update

It turns out that the Perfekta seeds were apparently from 1969, making them 44 years old!  Final germation rates were:

For nicked seeds, 1 of 6 germinated

For intact seeds, 4 of 6 germinated

Too small of a sample size to draw statistical conclusions, but good evidence that nicking very old tomato seeds is probably not essential to facilitate germination.

Here’s the latest pic, with flower buds just a few days from opening:Perfekta seedlings 2-18-2013

We’re up to 29 plug trays planted – even trying plug trays for carrots and parsnips!  Here’s a pic of the early tomatoes at 13 days after planting:Early Tomato Seedlings 2-18-2013

This first tomato tray of the year had 93% germination rate.  I usually like to see at least 95%.  But this tray has 113 varieties from 54 sources.  There are bound to be a couple of bad batches.

And here’s the latest pic of Carolina Reaper pepper seedlings:Pepper, Carolina Reaper 2-18-2013


Let the Growing Season Begin!

Last week we started planting early season crops in ernest.  Up and growing well are:

Onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cilantro, sage, oregano, mint, thyme, kale, kohlrabi, cress, strawberry, asparagus, goji berry, pak choi, Romanesco broccoli, arugula, rhubarb, artichoke, celery, mustard greens, rosemary, lavender, chamomille, chervil, majoram, tarragon, fennel, leeks and others.

Also, one 288-cell plug tray of tomatoes of 113 varieties.  This includes 76 early varieties (<69 days to maturity), 10 additional dwarf varieties, and 27 of my favorites for flavor.  I hope to set out most of these in a high tunnel in mid to late March.  In theory, for the early maturing varieties at least, I should start getting some ripe tomatoes by late May!

I really like these plug trays – I can fit nearly 10,000 seedlings under my flourescent lights simultaneously!  No need for heating mats, excellent germination, decent early growth, and easy to pot up with minimal root disturbance.

The major issue I’ve had with plug trays is that when filled with moist seed starting mix, they sag badly when placed on standard 10-20 trays.  So watering is a real pain.  I’ve considered several options and have settled on this one –

From a surplus discount store, I obtained some used plastic covers from flourescent light fixtures.  Using a table saw, I cut these down to size (2-1/2″ wide, and 9-1/2 and 19-1/2″ long), cut half-slits in the middle, put two pieces together, then used this as a support brace.  So far it’s looking pretty good, and at 15¢ a per tray, that’s a huge savings over $2+ per tray I was considering with other options.  It adds up when we’re looking at 100+ trays!

Seedling tray supports A Seedling tray supports D Seedling tray supports G Seedling tray supports I Seedling tray supports K

Here’s the kind of weather we’ve been facing – one of the coldest and snowiest in many years:

High Tunnel under snow 1-28-2013 A