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Starting tomatoes

 It's been a very cold week, temperatures have dropped well below zero again and are keeping us indoors most of the time. Soil is completely frozen for days now, so there is no way to do any gardening work. 

This year I decided to start my tomatoes earlier, so the middle of January seemed like a good time to start sowing. Last week I had a nasty cartoon-like fall down the outdoor stairs. I landed on my lower back, which is now completely bruised and black, so I'm having some trouble standing and bending. That's why I ended up sowing my seedlings inside the house again. I can't stand for hours in the basement sowing, also even if I weren't injured I'd probably still sow indoors due to the cold. That's why I used the living room as a sowing place, an old chair was the table, so that I could sit on the soft sofa, and a very heavy blanket was keeping me extra warm(I'm always cold). The only problem with this "portable seedling station" was that I couldn't keep a lot of compost next to me, so I had to get up a lot to get more compost from the bathroom where my hubby left me the big compost bag. But still getting up, going to the bathroom, and getting back to sit and sow was much easier than the constant standing. 

This year I'm back to sowing lots and lots of tomato varieties. I'm sowing 20 varieties in separate containers (4 seedlings per variety), and 8 big containers with mixed varieties. The mixed containers should give me around 80-100 seedlings more, but I'll see how many I'll have when the seedlings start growing. I've sown tiny tomato mix in 2 big containers(balcony tomatoes), a mix of cherry tomatoes in other 2 containers, and I've used 4 containers to get rid of all the old seeds I had at home. I've sown a lot of seeds in those containers, hundreds, since some of the seeds are almost 8 years old and I'm not certain how many of them are still good. There are lots of home collected seeds that will most likely germinate, so I'll end up having enough seedlings for sure. If I don't get enough seedlings I still have almost 45 days to start new seeds.

I've also started the eggplants and 4 containers of peppers. I've used 4 different eggplant varieties and should get around 50 seedlings from the sown amount. Since eggplants don't really like my garden this should be enough to harvest a decent amount of eggplants this year.  The peppers that I've sown are sweet pepper varieties, two of them are bell peppers and two tomato peppers(rotunda varieties). The peppers will be planted in the main garden(unlike chili peppers which will stay in front yard containers). I don't know how many seedlings I'll get, I'll find the room for all of them. I'll have much more space now that I'm moving half of the vegetables to the side garden.

As it turns out, the temperature in the heated shelf and the unheated one is almost the same during the day, night temperatures are higher in the heated shelf since the house is not heated during the night. That's why I evicted the leek, onion, and flower containers to the unheated shelf and made room for the freshly sown tomatoes and peppers inside the heated one.

There's more room on the shelves than I originally thought, so now I'm thinking I'll start some more veggies to fill up the shelves and free the needed space for March sowing. During March I'll need space to start zucchinis, squashes, cucumbers, corn, sunflowers, and frost-sensitive flowers like Ipomeas, so I'm thinking of starting the brassicas earlier. They won't mind growing longer in containers, won't bloom or overgrow. If they grow too big I can always move them to bigger pots. I'm also thinking of starting some chard soon and I'll need some lettuce and spinach seedlings in early March, so with the germination and growth period, the ideal time to sow should be in early February.

I'm also thinking about starting early pruning this year. I have lots of work now that I'm taking care of the neighbors garden as well, and there are lots of shrubs there. I'll wait for the first short break from the frost and cold and start pruning. Cutting the branches a few cm longer than they should be will be enough to be on the safe side if we get hit with a very cold period. That way if the tips freeze, I can quickly and easily remove them in early spring and be done with pruning, rather than leaving it all for March and pruning until June.

I guess my new gardening season is almost at full speed, and earlier than ever.


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