We are now starting seeds received by UF/IFAS in their encouragement of community gardening. About 10 days ago, we picked up our free seed packets from our local Extension Office. Today, we are setting out to germinate the seeds. The seed varieties we are starting are cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and Italian eggplant.
Germinating the Tomato Seeds
Heirloom Tomatoes: Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes from Johnny’s Selected Seeds
What’s great is that Johnny’s Selected Seeds company shares seed germinating tips for each of these varieties. So, we are following their guidelines. Some seeds start great by wrapping the seeds in a wet paper towel and placing them in the bag. Others do better directly planted in soil. These seeds are so tiny, I chose to put them in soil. I happen to have many small paper cups leftover. So, I’m using those to germinate these seeds. A benefit is that it will be easy to cut them out of their starting cups when the time comes to transplant them.
Here is the link to Johnny’s information on these cherry tomato seeds.
We are expecting germination in about 7 days, if all goes well.
Planting the Eggplant Seeds
Johnny’s Seeds: Hybrid Italian Egglplant
Eggplant seeds like to start in very warm soil. So, that’s great for us here in South Florida in mid-May. Here are the details on this seed variety from the company, Johnny’s seeds: Hybrid Italian Eggplant Nadia F1 seeds.
Eggplants are known to be slow to start. But I’m optimistic with the warmth that these will start quickly. We’ll see.
Starting Seeds: Organic Bell Pepper
Sweet Sunrise F1
Johnny’s Seeds are nonGMO and some are organic. In this case, we received organic bell pepper seeds. Details are here on Johnny’s Sweet Sunrise F1 Organic Bell Pepper Seeds.
I used the same method to start these seeds as the other two varieties. You can use any potting mix, or even better, perhaps, if you have a seed starting mix. The seeds were planted about 1/4 inch into the soil. I used potting mix and topped off the first 1/2 inch or so of soil with seed starting soil based on what I happened to have available.
I also chose to mark the seeds using popsicle sticks remaining from another project.
Check back soon to see how they’re doing.
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This is Part II of Community Gardening with UF/IFAS and the Free Seed Offering. Read Part I here.
That first blog included a lot of details, including how to find your own Extension Center across the country. Florida’s Extension Offices are offering seeds this May while supplies last. Extension Offices in other states have similar gardening, farming and agriculture programs for your area.
I also skipped ahead in the first blog to share fertilizer plans and soil amendments for organic growing and increasing yields. It will be some time after the seedlings start to sprout and after they are transplanted, before we will add fertility (with FertaFlow organic fish fertilizer) or soil amendments (such as OMRI listed SoilPlex for adding a carbon source with humic and fulvic acids for nutrient uptake, water retention and optimal soil structure.) For now, we’re keeping them warm and watered.