Spring ahead for Daylight Savings Time Sunday the 13th at 2:00 a.m. We don't mind missing the hour of sleep for the gain of extra evening light, especially as garden chores begin to pile up. Ugh, there's already weeds to pull. Three inches of rain received cumulatively over the weekend is really going to help get verdure off to an explosive start.
Bell pepper seeds planted indoors have sprouted using bottom heat from a seedling heat mat.
We start all our annual garden plants from seed, and many can be sprouted early under fluorescent lights indoors. Even in a sunny window, seedlings often end up too weak and leggy. Bryan hung some discarded (free to us) fluorescent lamps on chains from the ceiling of our bonus room over a counter top; lights can also be hung in an unheated garage covered with a sheet of heavy gage plastic to hold in warmth. Timed to run 6am to 10pm and kept 2 inches above developing leaves, fluorescent tubes will cultivate stocky seedlings ready to transplant next month.
Vegetable plants we start from seed usually grow 3 times bigger and produce 5-10 times more than vegetable plants purchased from local stores. There are more varieties available to start from seed; also, we can save our own seeds from heirloom and standard varieties for next year, banking a little extra money. (Saving seeds from hybrid varieties generally doesn't work). By selecting the biggest and best fruits, saving those seeds, and planting them from year to year, we are refining a genetic adaptation of the plant that performs best in our very own back yard. We prefer to call this "intelligent selection" rather than "natural selection."
Seeds we will be starting indoors this week under fluorescent lights are jalapeno peppers (can't wait for that summer salsa!), parsley, broccoli, dill, and other herbs. In the garden outside we will cultivate and plant peas and leaf lettuce: romaine and 'Salad Bowl' seem to stand up well through June.
Meyer lemons are finally ripening after the long winter indoors. Any small citrus can be grown year-round in five-gallon pots if you have a sunny window. This tree will summer on the deck after danger of frost is past.