Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Seedlings sprouted!

I planted my tomato seedlings on January 15th just before we went skiing and left them under light. I used something similar to this Hydrofarm Germination Station with Heat Mat to keep the soil mix warm and moist.  The soil mix I used was one from Burpee that I found at Lowes called “Organic Seed Starting Mix”.  I mixed in a bit of perlite and moistened the mix before planting my seeds and covering the tray with the plastic dome cover.  We were gone for 10 days and had someone stop by to check the moisture of the soil.  The tray comes with a pad which lines the bottom and soaks up the water for slower release so she only had to add about 1L of water to the tray over the 10 days we were gone.

As soon as we returned home, I was pleased to see almost everything had sprouted.  On February 2nd, I potted up the tomato seedlings into 4″ round pots using a fresh mix of starter soil and perlite.  I did the usual method of planting them up to the bottom of the cotyledon leaves and then stuck them in the cold upstairs bedroom.  I was attempting to give them the “cold treatment”, however after I did some additional reading, the cold treatment for tomatoes is supposed to be just as soon as the cotyledon leaves appear and before the first real set of leaves show up.  Next year I will be more deliberate in my planting and I will give them a 10 – 15 day cold treatment before the first leaves appear.  They got about 5 days of cold treatment before I realized my mistake and just opened the vents and door to my upstairs growing room.  They’ll enjoy some nicer warm weather until they make it into the garden next month.

We decided to pot up our pepper plants on February 9th.  I used the same organic starter mix, perlite, and a very small amount of organic bone meal.  I have two trays of 18 – 3″ square pots for my peppers and I used about 2Tbsp bone meal for each tray.  These plants should continue to grow well until they make it out to the garden early to mid April.

Since I have been very stingy with pictures in the past, I hope you will enjoy the pictures of my potted up plants.


2 Responses to “Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Seedlings sprouted!”

  • Mike Fondren:


    I’m not far from you geographically. I purchased Len Pense’s video set at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show last weekend. I’m seriously considering building some raised beds as Len instructs. In his video, Len mentions building the beds differently if you have Bermuda Grass. I’m wondering if you did anything differently when building your beds, as I’m sure you have Bermuda Grass in the Memphis area much like we do hear near Nashville.

    As I am just getting started with these raised beds, any tips you might share would be much appreciated.

    Mike Fondren
    Mt. Juliet TN

    • eric:

      Hi Mike,

      I know my reply is a few months late, but it may help you or someone else who stumbles upon this site.

      I have some old material from Len so I don’t know what the suggestion is different for raised beds in Bermuda Grass lawns. I can tell you that if I had it to do over again, I’d make sure I put up some kind of metal edging or barrier 4′ away from my beds and then run weed fabric all the way out to the 4′ edging. I’d make sure to get bulk wood mulch around the beds. I’d be interested to know what Len suggests now and I may email you directly.

      The EE is best ordered from Len. I get my rice hulls from Riceland in Stuttgart, AR and they will ship you a full or 1/2 pallet via LTL. It was reasonable for me to get it shipped and I ordered extra. I’d suggest if you have the space to keep enough rice hull and EE on hand to top of 1/3 of a bed every year for several years since the growing mix will dissipate or slightly compact. I have 4 beds and I should mix up enough for 1 full bed to top off all 4 beds every year if that makes sense.

      There is a local garden center near me which sells cotton burr organic compost at $35/cubic yd. You’d want to check with Back To Nature to see if they can point you to a local distributer, otherwise see if any local garden centers have it in bulk.

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