The Dirt Diva

Tailoring your garden to your needs!

Create the Ideal Spot for Germinating Heat-loving Crops


As promised, today I want to share with you some helpful tips for starting tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings indoors. These 3 crops are members of the heat-loving nightshade family. The above photo is a flat of newly germinated tomato seedlings, taken last May.

Sure, you could purchase seedlings at the nursery, but starting your own seeds is so fun! Plus, you have more variety choices when starting your own. So now it’s the first week of April, and that means over the next 2 weeks, its time to start tomatoes, peppers, eggplants indoors. If you haven’t already assembled your basic seed starting supplies, here is what you’ll need:

1. Your seeds

2. Seed starting mix from the garden center,

Jiffy seed starter

Jiffy seed starter






3. Seedling flats or peat pots or plastic cell packs (you can re-use plastic food containers too, as long as you poke drainage holes in the bottom) and 4. Labels (like popsicle sticks)

cell packs and flats

cell packs and seedling flats





5. Bucket for moistening and containing seedling mix

moistened potting mix in bucket

moistened potting mix in bucket





For clear instructions on how to seed up your containers or flats, here is a brief YouTube clip.

If like me, you have to improvise with what little space you have in your house, this article , courtesy of the Hudson Valley Seed Library will tell you how to make the best use of existing spaces in your home to satisfy the special requirements of the heat-loving nightshade crops.

What if you just don’t have an appropriate space but you really want to start some nightshades indoors? YouTube to the rescue again! After watching dozens of mediocre and just plain awful videos on the subject, I can confidently share this one with you. It shows how to make an inexpensive compact grow box out of household materials. When not in use 11 months of the year, the unit can be disassembled and stored away easily. Plus, if like me, you have 3 rotten cats who will take any opportunity to destroy your handiwork, this system will keep your plants safe too!

Following the instructions outlined in this post, you should have healthy seedlings that are transplant ready in about 8 weeks. May 30th is about the time we can safely transplant tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in the ground outside. By then, the soil should be at or around 70 degrees, and frost should not be an issue.

Please share your own seed starting experience here! What are your tips and tricks for starting your own?

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