If you live in north east Texas, it is time to start your seeds for transplanting in your summer garden. Tomatoes and pepper plants definitely need to be transplants, and some people transplant squash, cucumber, and eggplant. All the plants have slightly different planting depths, but in general they are treated similarly to get them started.
In general, you need a seed tray or pots, water, seeds, and a grow light to successfully grow tomatoes and other plants from seed. There are at least a half dozen choices as to what type of medium you stick your seeds in. Some people use peat pellets or peat pots. These can then be stuck directly in the ground. Others use potting soil in a plastic pot. The little plants must then be removed from the pot to be transplanted. Finally, some people use a soil-less medium like vermiculite. All of them will grow the plants. Pick one and go forth to garden.
Once you have decided what to stick the seeds into, you need to read the package and see what depth to plant the seeds and how many to put in each pot or pellet. It is customary to put one or two seeds per peat pellet. If you put two seeds in and both sprout, wait a week and then pinch off the weakest of the two. Do not pull it out or you will damage the roots of the other plant. With a pot, depending on size, you do the same.
Seeds need moisture to germinate. You should water the soil before you plant, then put the seeds in and water again. Some people put plastic wrap over the seed tray or pots to hold the moisture in. As soon as the seedlings poke through the soil, you remove the film.
A grow light with an adjustable height is helpful. You want to keep it a couple of inches above the plants. This means as the plants grow, you have to move the light up. An adjustable chain is the easiest way to do this. The grow light keeps the plants from being spindly and turning toward the light coming in from a window or where ever.
When it comes time to put the plants in the ground, around April 15th, you have to harden them off or they will die. It is a shock to go from the cushy nursery to the big, bad world. About a week before you intend to transplant, start setting the plants in the sun for a couple of hours a day, then bring them in. Lengthen the time they stay out gradually until you transplant them.
When transplanting, be sure to water the plants in. Otherwise, the surrounding soil will suck the moisture right out and they will die.
For more help gardening, buy my book, “Preparing a Vegetable Garden From the Ground Up.” Available in print or eBook, this book walks you from choosing the site of your garden all the way through what to do after the harvest. Buy a copy for yourself or a friend today!