Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Started Seeds Today March 3rd

(Updates below)
My first seed starting day.  I didn't have time this morning to get germinating mix into the 98-cell tray I start most things in, so I started only those early things I could start in paper towels.  I start in paper towels for several reasons:

1) I can "start" my seeds without having to get everything into soil.
2) I can keep some of the seeds that take a long time to start (like peppers) warm and sterile for much of the time they are germinating (in the case of peppers, about 3 weeks).
3)  I don't have to start extra seeds in each cell and face the dreaded thinning process. 
4) It goads me to start the process.  It takes so little time to start seeds this way, but I know I have to be ready to plant them in soil when the time comes, or I'll lose them.

So I check the seeds every day and see if any have germinated, and plant them just as soon as a root starts to show.  If I forget to do this, I'll easily lose some seeds, since the roots grow long and tangled and into the paper towel, and it's a mess.  No savings, then.  In reality, I don't start checking peppers for about 10 days; I start checking as early as I could possibly find germinated seeds.

I cut paper towels, label with a black sharpie, put a few seeds on the paper towel and fold it up, dip it in water, and store in a plastic bag or plastic container.

Today I started:
Most of my onions (I really didn't need to start in paper towels.  I'll be planting several in a cell, anyway).

A few each of some plants I will start more of later.  The tomatoes will give me just a few plants that will be very early, and I won't be as tempted to start all my tomatoes too early.  Tomatoes and peppers started today will be as big as the nice big plants from Claussens in 4 inch pots.  But they will take a tremendous amount of room by then, and it's a real juggling job if it's cold in May and they have to stay under lights later than I intended:

Solist Chinese Cabbage
Early Green Cabbage
Veronica Romanesco broccoli
Beaverlodge plum tomato
glacier tomato
New Girl tomato
Sun Gold Tomato
Ace Pepper
Jalapeno M Pepper
Mariachi Pepper
Carmen Pepper
March 6 update - Onions, coles, and hollyhocks had sprouted.  Here's what the onions seeds looked like - most are sprouted more than I would have liked.  Should have checked them yesterday.  So I planted them  in 1in cells.

March 7 update- The Soloist Chinese Cabbage is up today.  I'll plant more later, but this gives me just a couple to be really early. 


  1. Kathy, I'm so glad to learn about this method for starting seeds. Thanks for sharing. I just started wave petunias, snapdragons and leeks. Shirley

  2. Hi Shirley -

    You're ahead of me on the snaps and leeks! I only start fairly big seeds (that I could handle with tweezers) in paper towels. When I plant the snaps I'll do it directly in the soil (maybe tomorrow). I'm guessing you probably had pelleted seeds for the petunias, and they need to be started in the soil too, since the clay pellet would dissolve in a paper towel and you'd be left with an unmanageably tiny sprouted seed.