Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gardening Season Has Begun!

It's official:  gardening season has begun!

I usually start my peppers on Groundhog Day, and I was a few days late this year in spite of knowing that we are now officially in a warmer growing zone.  Therefore, I have been anxiously watching for my little darlings to appear from their beds of potting mix in my repurposed cookie containers.  (These plastic containers have their own clear lids, so they are just perfect for becoming mini-greenhouses.  They also contained some of my favorite store-bought cookies, but that played no role in my purchase decision.....)

I typically start about five different kinds of peppers, varying my selection by the year.  This year's crop includes:

California Wonder (Burpee):  Planted 2/5; Emerged 2/19

Key Largo (Seeds of Change):  Planted 2/5; Emerged 2/19

Paprika (From my own stock):  Planted 2/5; Have not yet emerged

Banana (From my own stock):  Planted 2/8; Have not yet emerged

Jalapeno (From my own stock):  Planted 2/8; Emerged 2/19

As you can see, I have more of my own peppers from seeds I have been saving.  The Paprika peppers are several generations old by now, and they always take a really long time to sprout, so I'm not yet worried.  The Jalapeno and Banana peppers are in their first year of my seed-saving efforts, but I am pleased that the Jalapeno have emerged so much more quickly than they usually do for me when I purchase the seed.  They seem eager to prove they belong in my garden.

As you might suspect, I don't tend to do much to encourage germination, and peppers regularly take me 10-14 days to see their little green backs rounding out of the soil.  I do put my mini-greenhouses in a warm spot in the house, and I even take them down to sit on the dryer while it is running so their feet get warm, but I don't do anything dramatic like soaking them first or filing off part of the seed covering.  I figure letting them sprout their own way is part of my test to see if they will be hearty.  So far, the approach hasn't failed me.  I just hope these little guys hurry up and get a set of real leaves on them so I can transplant them and free the mini-greenhouses for planting tomatoes.  The time for that will be here before you know it.

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