Last year we planted zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beets and 3 types of tomatoes. The weather was so cold and rainy till about July, that nearly nothing grew.
The tomato vines got big, but the fruit just grew about 1/2 way and shriveled up, the broccoli had ONE tiny little bunch and a big stalk, the Brussels sprouts went nowhere, and even the zucchini, (that usually goes crazy), only grew about 1/3 the usual size, then rotted. (.. the beets were eaten by a sneaky horse..) This year, I'm determined to get a headstart on the veggies... I'm going to try and start some inside, and hope they can get established long enough to make some FOOD! There's no comparison to the taste of a homegrown veggie with those in the store. They're like a completely different plant!!
I found this at Planting Vegetables for Dummies.com.. it's long, so I'll make it into 2 parts...
"You can plant vegetable seeds indoors or outdoors. If you plant seeds indoors, you transplant them into your garden later. With direct seeding, you skip the indoor step and sow the seeds directly in your garden. If you're serious about growing vegetables, you'll probably end up using both options. Consider these points when making your choice:
- You get a jump on the growing season when you sow seeds indoors. This process is called seed starting (or starting, for short). If you start at the right time, you can have vigorous seedlings ready to go into the ground at the ideal time. In areas with short growing seasons, starting seedlings indoors really gives you a head start.
- • The best candidates for an early start are plants that tolerate root disturbance and benefit from a jump on the season, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, leeks, onions, parsley, peppers, and tomatoes.
- Seeds are easier to start indoors than outdoors. You can more easily provide the perfect conditions for hard-to-germinate or very small seeds, including the ideal temperature, moisture, and fertility.
- Some vegetables don't like to be transplanted. These vegetables include many of the root crops, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips. They're cold-hardy vegetables, so you can direct seed them pretty early anyway. Crops like corn, beans, and peas are also pretty finicky about transplanting and grow better when you direct-seed.
Harden vegetable seedlings that have been grown indoors or purchased from a greenhouse before exposing them to the elements. Hardening off is a way of increasing your plant's stamina before planting — similar to slowly acquiring a base tan before taking that outdoor, tropical vacation. Plants that have been growing outside at the nursery can go right into the ground, but greenhouse-grown plants are lush and soft and have never known a single day of sunshine in their lifetimes. You have to introduce them slowly to the harsh, real world.
To harden-off seedlings, leave the plants in their containers and put them in a shaded area with some indirect light for a few days. A north-facing, covered porch is ideal. Whenever a freeze is predicted, bring the plants inside overnight. If these are shade plants, you can leave them in this protected site for a few more days and then put them in the garden. For sunny-spot plants, give them a few days in the shaded area and then place the plants in a sunny location for an hour one day. Give them a couple of hours of sun the next day, and so on, increasing their exposure each day. At the end of a week, the plants are thoroughly accustomed to sunlight and wind and are ready to go into their new home.
Don't overharden your plants. Certain crops, such as cabbage and broccoli, can bolt (flower before they're supposed to) quickly if seedlings over three weeks old are repeatedly exposed to temperatures lower than 40°F (4°C) for a couple of weeks.
Before transplanting your seedlings, you need to prepare your soil and sculpt beds or rows, and your garden must be ready to plant. When setting out plants in biodegradable peat pots, make slits down the sides of the pots or gently tear the sides to enable the roots to push through. Also, tear off the lip (top) of the pot, so that it doesn't stick up above the soil surface and pull moisture out of the soil. With premade growing blocks encased in netting, cut off the netting before planting.
Choose a calm, cloudy day to transplant, if possible. Late afternoon is a good time because plants can recover from the shock of transplanting without sitting in the midday heat and sun. If you don't get an ideal transplanting day and the weather is hot and sunny, shade the plants until the sun goes down. Don't be alarmed if your plants look a little droopy after you set them out because they'll soon recover. Cabbage seedlings can droop and look almost dead, for example, and then be up and growing in a day or two."
While you're waiting for spring, here are a few veggie-related things I found at Onlineauction.com!
Sprout jar with 3 lids from Classic_Chloe!
Deluxe Rada Vegetable Peeler from DebsVarietyShop!
Silver King Kutlett Lettuce Cutter from restaurant parts! Boy, this brings back memories of my years at Pizza Haven cutting billions of heads of lettuce for our salad bar!
Stay tuned for part two!! And please add any comments and suggestions for successfully growing yummy fresh veggies - I need all the help I can get!