Sunday, March 27, 2011
Here are a couple trays of the early germinating spring "starts" for the raised beds and containers. A couple of these may find their way into an outdoors hydro system as it is developed.
All were germinated on a heating pad under a humidity dome in either rockwool or peat pellets. Those germinated in rockwool are candidates for the hydro system as peat would NOT be a good idea. Once germinated, these were up-potted into coco coir. This is by far the best "starts" media I have used. I will dedicate a later post to coco coir.
In these trays are veggies requiring 8-10 weeks of growth prior to planting outside. Our last frost date in this zone is around May 15th, so we are rolling along well. As a general rule, I germinate the peppers about 10-12 weeks, tomatoes at 8-10 weeks, and cucumbers at about 4 weeks. Beans will go at 2-4 weeks.
I have noticed the hotter the pepper, the longer the lead time required. The Tepins and Caribbean Reds were germinated at nearly 13 weeks to give them a strong jump on the season. It will be a race to fully produce prior to first frost in October. An early frost has destroyed many hot peppers in this zone!
In the photo; Tepin Pepper, Caribbean Red Pepper, Salsa Hybrid Pepper, Early Jalapeno Pepper, Giant Jalapeno Pepper, and Orange Habenero. There are also a few determinate tomatoes needing a little longer head start; Golden Girl Heirloom Better Bush Heirloom.
Since the coco coir is a neutral PH product with no form of nutrition, I will be using a diluted solution of hydroponic nutrients. This mix will be at around 1/4 strength for the first 4 weeks, and then 1/2 strength until planting out. I am curious to see the effects versus last year's starts which were potted in Miracle Grow Potting Mix. I imagine it will be "no contest" and I will be ratcheting up the lights daily. :)
Bring on Springtime!