Within the next few weeks, or by mid-December at the latest, we are going to have a killing freeze that will end our eggplant and pepper seasons. These plants have been growing since spring and are still producing. Since these plants are so prolific, there is no reason to chop them down early. When we finally get our first freeze, and these plants die, we will have empty garden space… something I don’t really like!
This time of year, it is difficult to start seeds in the ground. Soil temperatures are cool, and that slows down germination. Plus, once we start to get frost and freezing temperatures, young seedlings have a hard time surviving, even winter hardy plants.
To get around this, we will start some seeds inside. They will sprout faster in the warmth and will be protected against any cold snaps. Once these seedlings are a few weeks old, they will be hardy enough to survive cold nights. When we eventually clear the pepper and eggplants out of the garden, we will have new plants to replace them.
To get some seeds started, fill the tray with soil, and add one seed to each pod. Follow the seed packet instructions to know how deep to plant the seed. Water the soil by spraying with a mister. This prevents disturbing the seed or washing it away. Also put some water in the bottom of the seed greenhouse and put the clear cover on. Place the tray in direct sunlight or under a grow lamp.
If using a grow lamp, seeds can handle up to 16 hours of light each day. Seeds will germinate best with soil temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.
Keep the soil moist by spraying with a mist of water each day and keeping a small pool of water in the bottom of the tray.
Make sure you label the seeds. We will be starting kale, collard greens and cabbage, and these seedlings all look the same.