January is towards its end, there is only one winter month left, February, so wise gardeners should prepare their spring planting. A good and cheap way to grow our spring vegetables (tomatoes,cucumbers,courgettes,peppers e.t.c) is to make seedbeds and have our plants ready for transplanting in Spring.
I hope the following tutorial will explain how to do it.
When to sow the seeds?
• in February – March in warmer countries
• in April in less warm countries
Suitable season for transplanting
• after mid-April in warmer countries
• in May in less warm countries
Where to sow the seeds?
- in coconut tablets which have the advantage of being both, little pot and soil (2in1), and when the plants sprout we plant the tablet directly (as it is together with the sprout) in the earth. Coconut tablets need to absorb enough water before they can be used, so we lay them on a tray, we pour water on them, we wait until they bulge, then we can sow the seeds in them.
- in any small pots(pots we can buy, yoghurt tubbs, plastic cups, cartons we have cut, e.t.c)
- in sowing trays
- Fill the pots with soil (we don't need soil if we use coconut tablets)
- Put a couple of seeds in each pot. If the seed is big, one is enough
- Add a thin layer of soil on top of the pots
- Spray water on the pots trying not to push seeds very deep in the soil
- Put a label on each pot so as to know what species we have sowed
- Cover the seedbed with transparent plastic or glass. The cover should be placed at a height of 2.5-3 cm over the seedbed to let the plants rise, so we can put stones, bricks, pieces of wood (whatever else we can think of) round the seedbed, on which the plastic or glass will be placed
- Cover the glass/plastic with a dark cloth or newspaper so that the seedbed stays in dark. Another option is to keep the seedbed somewhere dark (e.g in the cellar)
- Store the seedbed in a warm place: our kitchen, on an electric blanket, on a warm mat e.t.c. Our seedbed needs a steady temperature of around 22 °C.
- Water the seedbed when we feel the soil dry and we avoid pouring water on the new, tiny sprouts.
- Remove the dark cloth or the newspaper from the cover when the seeds sproutbecause the sprouts need light for photosynthesis.
- When the sprouts grow a bit and where we have two plants, we remove the weaker sprout and leave the stronger one only.
When to transplant the plant?
- until our plants reach a height of at least 15-20 cm, then we can plant them in the garden or we wait until the sprouts have their 3rd leaf (courgettes), 4th leaf (tomatoes, peppers), 5th-6th leaf(aubergines)
- for quite warm environment temperature before we transplant.
If the temperature outdoors isn't warm enough we can transplant our new vegetables in bigger pots as they need space to grow, and transplant them in the garden later.
What to do with surplus seeds?
Keep them wrapped in dark, not transparent bags, in a dry place, at a temperature of 4 degrees (maybe in the fridge). Make sure they don't get wet as this will shorten their lifetime.
If we notice yellowish leaves on the sprouts, then this means that they lack nutrition and we should add some fertilizer, preferably organic.