Pi (π) day seemed like a good day to officially start the gardening season by planting the first vegetable seeds. As usual, I planted seeds for my early tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. I prepared for this last week by cleaning the plastic pots and steam-table pans that I use to start vegetables indoors and soaking them in bleach solution to kill diseases.
Today, I filled some of those pots with seed-starting soil (a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, and a little fertilizer). The soil is only slightly damp, so I watered it thoroughly and added more soil as the water caused it to compress slightly. This leaves a lot of water in the container, so after planting the seeds, I transfer the finished pots to a second pan.
All of these related seeds should be planted about 1/4 inch (6 mm) deep. I planted four seeds in each pot for ‘Park’s early season starter’ tomato (in the large pot), ‘ichiban imp’ eggplant, and ‘yellow banana’ and ‘Takiis ace’ peppers. The eggplant and sweet peppers were each planted in two of the compartments of the “six-pack.” Finally, we planted some jalapeno pepper seeds in the single small pot. Because they are about a decade old, I decided to use ten seeds. Hopefully at least a few will germinate.
I start my early tomatoes now in the hope that I will have ripe tomatoes by July 1st. I use a larger pot because the tomato plants will be quite large by the time it is warm enough to transplant them outside. I start peppers and eggplant this early because they germinate and grow slowly compared to most other vegetables.
I plant these vegetables in groups rather than individually, then give them a little more space in the garden. I started doing this with peppers because I was told that they benefit from the shade they provide to each other. It seemed to work well, so I started doing the same for eggplant and tomatoes.