Tracking Seedling Progress

Lately, I’ve been using photo sharing sites/apps like Instagram and Flickr to chart the progress of my seeds and seedlings as they germinate and grow. My older model iPhone does not take the nicest photos under low-light conditions, but I’ve found it to be a helpful way to track progress for my own purposes, especially when I can’t be relied on to write the proper date on plant tags! Let’s hope that it was wishful thinking on the part of my subconscious mind and not the effects of aging that caused me to inexplicably write “Sept” instead of “Jan” on the first round of hot peppers that I sowed a month and a half ago.

And look at them now! I start many of my hot pepper seeds very early because some species and varieties can take longer than others to produce mature fruit. Habanero varieties (Capsicum chinense) and others like Capsicum baccatum species (they often have names that begin with “Aji”) or the Rocotos (Capsicum pubescens) are famous for this and I have learned my lesson from fruitless seasons that it is better to start sooner rather than later. Unfortunately I may regret starting the variety in this picture, ‘Pasila Bajila,’ so early as it is already a monster.

Besides hot peppers I have also started a variety of long season tomato relatives, violas, and a few non-edible plants. Among my current favourites is clary sage (Salvia sclarea), a beautiful, non-edible salvia with an intoxicating scent. It is often used in the cosmetics industry as a perfume and boasts some medicinal properties that I have never paid mind to. The plant is a biennial that produces an amazing plume of flowers in its second year and then dies. I grew one in a pot for two years and overwintered it indoors as I was never sure if I could provide the conditions it required to stay out permanently. This year I’m taking my chances with one in the garden and several seedlings that will go out when it is warm enough. The seed packet says that this plant is finicky about transplanting, but I didn’t seem to have any transplanting issues in the past. Luck, perhaps? Regardless, I’ve got an entire pack of seeds to play around with — should all of these seedlings die, I can still direct sow outdoors after the last frost. It was very easy to grow from seed, so easy that I have more seedlings than I need. I’ve potted one up specially and placed it next to my desk so I can rub and smell its soft, fuzzy leaves throughout the day.

‘Ditmarsher’ s well as a few dwarf tomato varieties are up next.

Have you started seeds?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Tracking Seedling Progress

  1. I’m going to start mine this weekend. We’re in western Kansas, I probably could have started them a week or two ago but we’ve been busy. I am looking forward to it : )

  2. Do Japanese Black Pine seeds count? What about rooting figs?

    Decided to not raise any of my major garden plants from seeds this year because of other house and garden work to be done, but still can’t keep the house free of plants trying to begin their life!

  3. I have the luxury of greenhouses and lots of indoor growing lights so pea shoots salad greens, and herbs. My hot peppers and lupins were started about 3 weeks ago but nowhere near the size of yours. theyve just got their second leaves.

  4. Every year I want to start from seed, but f’ing manage to. This year as well. Maybe next year will be the one! :) Glad you’re having success with yours!

  5. Here I was, so proud of my hot pepper seedlings, just to discover I’m all behind! Mine are just sprouting and with just the first pair of leaves, but I hope the long summer -I’m in the center of Spain- will make up for the lost time. At least my cherry tomatoes are working hard to grow :)

  6. I’ve started, but nothing is as big as your peppers yet. I’m not using a growlight, just my floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room and the under the floor heating my apartment building maintains. Everything’s doing well except some dampening off with the quinces. It’s my crazy project of the year, I’ve started the seeds from my mother-in-laws quince fruits (after three months in the fridge for cold stratification), not sure if they’ll grow true-to-seed or how long I can maintain them on a balcony (esplanier?) if all 6 remaining seedlings survive, but should be interesting.

    Also, I’m trying ditmarsher, and they’re currently the largest of the tomato seedlings.

  7. Looking good! This past week I started shelling and snow peas, lavender (because I love a challenge) and sweet peas. You’ve also reminded me I should sow some pepper seeds asap.

  8. Came across your blog on a random search – great blog!!! I started my seeds two weeks ago and they are just starting to come up (still very fragile). Do you use grow light for your seedlings (they look so strong!)? This is the first full year of having my own urban garden and I’m really looking forward to a season of excitement :)

  9. I’ve started some sweet peppers, tomatoes (whippersnapper, polish beta, silvery fir and hahms gelbe), pansies, lettuce, calendula and basil. This is my first time starting seeds indoors, I’ve set up my shop light and crossed my fingers. Wish me luck!

  10. I just sowed a bunch of seeds this weekend! Dwarf shelling pea, cherry tomatoes, early jalapenos, eggplant, lemon cucumber, early bush beans, and thai basil. It’s my first time. I’m starting to worry that I started things too late (peppers??) but they are an earlier variety I think. I have a very small growlight to supplement my south-facing window on cloudy days. And I have my eggplant and peppers on the floor by a heater until they sprout. I’m also worried that my backyard won’t be sunny or big enough for some of these veggies, esp. the tomatoes, but we’ll see how things go. Love this blog, just came across it recently doing some research and I’ll be checking back often :)

  11. I have started sowing my hot peppers about 3 weeks ago in my heated propagator. I love that thing. In a week my pepper seeds germinated and are now happily growing in pots under cover in my conservatory. I love hot peppers and decided to grow different kinds this year. A green and orange habanero. “Curry” a long red one which is good in …, Little Elf which has different colored small peppers and one called “Ring of Fire” which I got for free from the seed company. I have also sowed some flowers, onions, aubergine, cucumber and of course tomatoes. Isn’t great that the sowing season has started? Every day I am using the force to get my seedlings to grow faster. So far it is working!

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