Early Veg Sowing

Early Veg Sowing
Tomatoes, peppers, chilies…we can make early sowing of them all

Sowing seeds of tomatoes, peppers and chilies is not difficult – even at this time of year – providing you follow a few simple rules. But is it really worth sowing these tender plants so early? Well, in my view, if you can, you should. Just a couple of plants of each will reward you with plenty of delicious fruits – and by sowing now, and growing the plants in a warm greenhouse, you’ll be picking in early summer, way before the traditional cropping time. There are all kinds of tomatoes to try – from the red varieties, through to green, orange, purple and even striped tomatoes. For shapes and sizes, you can grow the tiniest of cherry types, through to the huge beefsteak varieties. For tomatoes to be cropped under cover you can start sowing seed from mid-January to early February (heated greenhouse), or from late February to mid-March (unheated greenhouse).
For peppers growing under glass, sow from now on wards; for plants to be grown outside, sow from late March.

Quick tip
After they have germinated keep tomato seedlings at 18˚C (64˚F); and peppers at 16-18˚C (60-64˚F)
Early Veg Sowing Temperature gauging
THIS EARLY in the season, with days still dark and cold, getting the temperature right for your tomato and pepper seeds is crucial; later in the spring, when ambient temperatures are warmer and light is more intense, there is greater leeway.
Tomatoes, peppers and chilies, however they are sown (see below) should all be kept at around 21°C (70°F), ideally in a heated propagator, until the seedlings emerge.

 3 ways to sow the seeds now
Early Veg Sowing
1. Space sowing:
The traditional sowing of tomatoes and peppers is to fill a small pot with a good, damp, multipurpose compost, and to ‘space-sow’ the seeds – so they are about 1in (2.5cm) apart.
Early Veg Sowing
 2. Jiffy pellets:
These compressed peat pellets hydrate when soaked in tepid tap water for about 20 minutes. The pellets are also fertilized. Lightly press one or two seeds into the center of each pellet.

Early Veg Sowing
 3. Seed Mats:
These presown biodegradable mats are placed on a small pot of compost. Sutton's Seeds offer tomato and pepper mats (three varieties in each pack) and others.

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