We are about six weeks out from the last frost date around here, which means it’s time start seeds for a lot of the warm season crops. Last weekend we started seeds for 11 varieties of tomatoes, 8 different kinds of chile peppers, and 2 types of tomatillos. Looking at the hundreds of varieties of heirloom tomatoes in the seed catalogs, its hard not to get carried away.
Here are the varieties I’m growing this year:
Tomatoes: Amish Paste, Black Krim, Blue Beech, Goldie, German Lunchbox, Hillbilly Potato Leaf, Mama Leone, Ox Heart, Prudens Purple, Sweet Pea Currant, and Ulster Germaid
Peppers: Ancho Gigantea, Big Jim New Mexico, Black Hungarian, Fish, Joe’s Round, NuMex Joe E. Parker, Santa Fe Grande, and Tam Jalepeno
Tomatillos: Puebla Verde and Purple
While I’ve found that most other seeds sprout just fine at room temperature, these ones, especially the peppers, won’t do much of anything if they’re not nice and cozy. Some people are able to find a warm spot in their home that works just fine. There is no warm spot in my home, which means we needed a little help. You can buy a seedling heat mat for this purpose, or you can rig one up yourself with a string of rope lights. We duct taped a string of lights to a board and laid a sheet of plexiglas over it. Our seedling trays are sitting on top, where the heat from the lights keeps the soil at about 80 degrees. Just make sure your using old incandescent lights and not LEDs, which won’t give off any heat.