Seed starting time!

I am starting peppers and tomatoes for spring plant sales. This is also the time to start cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, and other brassicas. Onions started from seed need to be planted in trays now. I am in the lower edge of Tennessee just above Florence, Alabama. Timing is very important!

I also order a lot of seed at this time of year. So far, I have about $320 of pepper seed ordered and will add a few more varieties over the next few days. I will also order some tomatoes, particularly hybrids like Big Beef and Sungold. A few other seed and plant orders will round out my garden.

This is also the time when I plan my garden. I go through seed in the deepfreeze and verify I have everything I want to grow.

  1. about 10 varieties of beans and limas
  2. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts
  3. Onions, radishes, carrots, lettuce, beets, spinach, celery, turnips, and other plants grown in beds
  4. about 50 varieties of tomato
  5. about 40 varieties of pepper
  6. 5 or 6 varieties of potato
  7. feed corn for the chickens
  8. sweet corn to feed me!
  9. watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, squash, and other curcurbits
  10. cowpeas and english peas
  11. 4 varieties of peanuts
  12. okra

And anything else I can figure out to grow.


It’s a waste of time to start vegetable seeds indoors now in my location. Anything put outdoors before April will languish in the cooler, overcast, sometimes foggy weather punctuated by 2-3 blasts of hot air off the great basin (aka Santa Anas). In fact local nurseries don’t see their annual veggie sales go ballistic until the week before Mother’s Day. And yet we are USDA zone 10.


You can get seedlings here in Feb/March. I start my tomato seeds in Jan, but I plant them in containers, so they warm up faster.

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I have thought about starting tomatoes and peppers this early, since I have a greenhouse, but even in the greenhouse it seems too cold for them. I only have so many heating pads, so I have to move seedlings off the heat once they germinate, to make room for other stuff.

What temperatures do you maintain for your winter tomato and pepper starts? Do you keep them on heating pads beyond germination?

Tomatoes grow best between 60 and 70 degrees. Peppers like it a bit warmer, usually about 72. I have a light stand that holds 25 trays (11" by 22"). I set the trays on top of the fluorescent light fixtures where heat from the ballast maintains perfect temperatures for seed germination. I’ve also seen people set a couple of trays of seed on top of their refrigerator on a couple of books so the heat near the ceiling will help with germination. The top of the refrigerator might be too cold, but on top of the books works about right. But I agree that heat mats make more sense for most home growers who want a good start with tomatoes and peppers.

Whatever method used, keep a close eye on the trays. When the seed germinate, they should be put under bright lights immediately.


Yeah, without a heat pad under my pots, they have no chance of those kinds temperatures in the greenhouse this time of year, other than for a few brief moments on unusually sunny afternoons. This is the last month of my greenhouse temperatures, and this is with heaters kicking in most nights:

I’ll wait another month or two, once the sun angle improves a bit and the clouds start to thin out in advance of spring, maybe the greenhouse will be more in the desired range by then.


I have leaf lettuce and spinach started and on heat mat on my back porch… 65-70 degrees.

I planted some leaf lettuce in ground in my hot bed too but expect them to take a bit longer longer to germinate.

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Yea it is that time of year, we will start seeding our cool season flowers in trays indoors at the end of this week. Nice change to the brown scenery when things start to emerge.

That is a very impressive list! I am starting my onion seeds too though I am in Zone 5b. Too early for me for most other things except maybe celery.

I only start onions this early. If I started tomatoes, now, they would be 3 feet tall before I could put them out in early May.

Even brassicas I wait a couple more weeks for.

This is one of my favorite topics! Your list looks awesome! Where did you order your pepper seeds from?

I’m in 6a, so the only seeds that I’m starting right (or should I say, *should be starting) are my onions, NA pawpaws, and strawberries.

I have been on the fence about ordering sweet potato slips and some seeds from Sand Hill Preservation Center, mainly because they only take mail orders and I don’t have any checks. I don’t really know how it works if you send a M.O. and they don’t have some of the things you want in stock. Do they just send you a store credit?

On the Sand Hill order form it asks if you are willing to accept substitutes. If they are out of stock and you do not want a substitute then they will send you a check. They have earned my trust with substitutes of seeds and sweet potatoes.

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I bought some sweet potatoes, and 2 varieties of potato from Home Depot. This year I won’t be growing corn, so I have room to grow something else.

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The only seeds starting here are just to get some trees and perennials stratifying for a few months. Starting up my winter garden soon with a set of grow lights, have a whole set of stuff try out, some are germination tests. Haven’t been growing for a few months I get this itch and start propagating my houseplants…

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Does hardneck garlic grow better from topset seeds or clove?

Hardneck is somewhat easier to grow from cloves. I’ve grown it both ways and have to put in a lot more work with the topsets. True garlic seed should be started similar to onions in cell trays.

I get most of my pepper seed from Hazzards superhotchiles tomatogrowers and sandhill

There are a few other places I get some specialty seed such as hybrids willhite and seedway

I’m up to 5 trays (90 cells of pepper and tomato seed started so far. This should give about 5000 seedlings. I’ll plant a lot more tomorrow.

In the also-needed category, I’ve got to get some seed trays and a few other supplies. morton

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Anyone know somewhere that sells cheap bulk seed? By the pound preferably.

Be more specific please. What kind of seed are you looking for. I know half a dozen bulk suppliers most of which are wholesale only. Wilhite sells large amounts of several kind of seed. Your local co-op is probably the cheapest source for bulk vegetable seed.

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I’m looking to do a nice pumpkin and melon patch. Maybe a half acre worth. Smaller amounts of garlic and tomato. Willhite has a nice selection, including the giant pumpkin I wanted.

I’ve got no experience starting from seed. Can I direct sow pumpkin and melon in ground or should they be started in trays?

Large growers all direct sow. If growing pumpkins, it is best to start them at the right time to hit the halloween market. I don’t know about your area, but for me, that is early to mid June. This is a lot later than most spring garden plants! Carefully pick the maturity of your pumpkins. Some are very early maturing while others are mid season and others late. Check if your state extension office has anything on growing pumpkins. Most states have circulars that give a lot of useful information.

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