The winter solstice is upon us, and yep – I've started my spring planting. Crazy, huh?
Well, I'm not completely nuts. For instance, I usually have spare time between holidays to get my DIY grow rigs set up. I'm also a major fan of pansies. Pansies not only take 12 weeks from seed to transplant, but are cool weather flowers. They transplant out to the garden before last frost – at the end of March here in Connecticut.
I could buy pansies. But I'm particular about my pansies. So, yeah, they need to be started indoors at the beginning of January. Impatiens, snapdragons, and vinca have long lead times, too.
But vegetables?! Actually... yeah. I start early indoor/outdoor peppers in December, as described in my book, Indoor Salad – How to Grow Vegetables Indoors. My 2014 indoor/outdoor pepper is almost 3 weeks old already. I've done this for several years. I'll harvest the first peppers in March. Then the plant will move outdoors full time in May. It'll have plenty of company outdoors in May. But my other transplanted peppers won't bear ripe fruit until late August. This lonely early pepper will supply my only cooking peppers for nearly 5 months. They keep on going until frost, too. Last year's indoor-outdoor peppers lived for 11 months, and provided nearly 240 peppers from two plants. (See grow log.)
Some of the April 2013 harvest
The best plants for indoor/outdoor growing are tomato, pepper, and eggplant. They are:
Space hogs – though you need smaller varieties for the indoor/outdoor scheme
Light hogs – switching to free sunlight is good
Really slow – it takes at least 3 months from seed to harvest anything
Long lived – they can harvest from March to November if started early
Heat lovers – I don't like my house as warm as they'd like
Perfectly happy to move – that's not true of all mature plants
Transplants are also "indoor/outdoor growing". But you just grow those to a certain size indoors before transplanting them out. That's different than growing them to harvest size indoors, and then kicking them outside.
I don't start most of the summer vegetable transplants until April 1. But lettuce, spinach, and peas get started indoors in March. Some seed sellers also offer deals on buying seed early, which can save you a little money. SeedsNSuch is my favorite new seed-seller so far this year, as I mentioned in my last blog post. They have an early bird special, and a good selection of indoor vegetable varieties.
So another of those gardening chores I do over the holidays, is plot out the seed-starting schedule on a spreadsheet. Nothing fancy – just when I want things to transplant out, how many weeks lead time they take from seed to transplant, so when I need to start the seeds. I'll post it here for site members in the next week or so.
Sign up as a member, if you want to be notified of blog posts and products on this site. Or, join the mailing list (scroll up, look to the right). I'm trying to develop a semi-weekly habit on blog posts. Freebies like the seed-starting plan and the forums are available to members. We'd love to have you join us!
What's Growing Now?
My winter gardens are in full swing.
Lettuce from four splashers – and a new no-splashing system I'm developing!
Toy choi and water spinach from my Aerogardens
Five tomato plants – growing in three different treatments, including one getting ready for the CropLampSurround lightscreen
Two cucumber plants in potting mix – I'm hoping to harvest by New Year's!
A fairy tale eggplant in an Aerogarden
A carmen pepper in soil
Mimulus flowers, to cheer up my office in the dreary winter months
And absolutely nothing outside. We've had two snow storms and an ice storm this week. I need to remember to fish a frozen pumpkin gourd out of a snowbank, or I might be growing gourds next summer by accident.
What are you growing now?