Starting Tomatoes and Peppers from Seed

Even my youngest child knows where food comes from.  She helped me start tomatoes and sweet peppers from seed earlier this week.

First she helped me fill the many cells of the containers with the finely textured seed starting mix containing a generous amount of sphagnum moss (no icky artificial stuff).  She filled hers very neatly with a little spoon.

Then we realized we'd forgotten to wet the seed starting mix first.  Whoops!  So we put the seed starter back into a large bin and mixed it up with water until it was like slightly moist cake batter.  It had a squishy texture that made it perfect for putting our hands in it!

Back into the cells it went.  Then we were ready to plant our seeds.  We used our fingers to poke a hole, then planted and covered the seeds.  Instructions said to plant most of them just 1/4 inch deep, and one packet 1/2 inch deep.  In most cells we planted two seeds, with the intent of saving the hardiest seedling later on.  Of course, planting with a preschooler is not an exact science.  We accidentally got as many as four seeds in one a few of the cells -- too crowded. 

We were able to fit about half of the seed-starting flats onto our new heat mat that the experts recommended.

In just four days, several of the Cherokee Purple Tomatoes had sprouted, all atop the heated mat.  The seeds are placed in front of our Southern exposure window.  We decided, against some gardeners' advice, to forgo the extra expense of a lamp, so we'll have to be careful to get our seedlings enough natural light as the weeks go on.

We're keeping a water bottle handy to spritz the starter cells as needed, trying to be sure they don't get too wet or too dry.

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