Time to sow seeds and today I’m sowing tomatoes and also capsicum and eggplant.
The tomatoes should be ready for planting out at Labour Weekend which is actually 11 weeks away. Rob’s tomato plants would be ready in 7 weeks but he does have a more controlled environment. The reason I’m sowing the seeds now is because it’s a good moon phase to sow your tomato and other solanum seeds in. If the plants are ready earlier then we can plant them out earlier. You could also sow again in 4 week’s time when it’s the First Quarter phase again and stagger your planting. The capsicums and eggplants take longer to grow into seedlings and they get planted out later (early November), so that’s why they go in now.
I’ve got some punnets that I’ve bought seedlings in before that I’m going to use for sowing in, so the first thing is to wash them out in a bath of water and vinegar. The vinegar sterilises them.
Next thing is making the seed-raising mix. I’ve got some nice organic potting mix which I’ll sieve to get rid of the chunky bits. Potting mix has pumice included for good drainage. You can also use compost rather than potting mix, but you’ll need to add pumice to sieved compost.
For this amount of mix I’m also adding a dessertspoon of volcanic rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser). This makes a nutrient-dense mix for the seedlings to get off to a good start.
Once the punnets are filled and firmed down, make your rows (I used a pencil). Seeds should be sown no more deeply than the diameter of the seed.
Then mark up your labels (name on one side and date on the other) and insert.
I’m planting ‘Roma’ because it’s a determinate tomato which means all the tomatoes come on at once and I’ll use these to make sauces and bottling for the winter. The other types I’m sowing (indeterminate, produce all summer long) are ‘Moneymaker’ – tried and true, medium-sized; ‘Gardener’s Delight’ – has been given a good rap as a red cherry tomato; ‘Black Cherry’; and ‘Honeybee’ (yellow cherry). For the capsicums I’m sticking with ‘Marconi Red’ and for the eggplants ‘Black Beauty’. I’ve bought organic seeds where I could and gone for reputable varieties when organic didn’t exist.
Now carefully lay in the seeds. I’m putting about 5 in for Tomato ‘Roma’ as I want 3-4 plants (hopefully I’ll get a 90% strike rate!) and 3 in the other rows as I really only want 1 plant of all the others. There are between 20-50 seeds in a packet and if you keep them in the fridge, they’ll last for around 5 years. At $3.95 a packet if you buy online, each seed=each plant costs no more than 20 cents.
Sprinkle a fine layer of the seed-raising mix over the seeds.
Then to a water bath add 2-3 capfuls of liquid seaweed and lower the punnets in to soak. Seaweed helps prevent the seeds from damping off (or rotting). It’s best at this stage not to water overhead as it can drive the seeds out of the soil. It takes 15 minutes for them to fully soak in the bath.
Then I put them on a recycled washed-out meat tray because it fits this punnet size and onto the windowsill to get germinating. This should take around 3 weeks (maybe slightly more). Exciting!
From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG!