My name is Cathie Pitman and I'd like to share with you what I have been doing to grow vegetables in my garden this spring and summer. I start tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and onions from seed indoors in March when it's still cold outside. The onion seeds I start in February because it takes them longer to grow. I am able to do this because I have a grow light, which gives the plants all the light they need as if they were outside.
I put my seeds in trays filled with potting mix and water them. I must check them everyday to make sure that the soil doesn't dry out. I do this by feeling the soil I also make a chard so I know what kind of seeds I planted in each tray. The grow lights stay on for 12 hours a day. I turn them off at night.
In the middle of April, when the plants have several leaves on them, I replant them into foam or plastic cups with fresh soil and label what is in each cup. I poke a few holes in the bottom of each cup so extra water can drain away. I place the cups in trays and move all of the plants into our three-season porch to get more light and to adjust to cooler temperatures before they go outside. They will stay in the porch until the middle of May to make sure that there will be no more frost. Before they are planted in the garden, I will take the trays of plants outside for a few hours a day to get them used to the outside weather.
There are some vegetable seeds that we plant directly in the garden in April instead of starting these seeds under the grow lights - radish, beet, lettuce, and spinach seeds. These vegetables like the cooler weather. The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers do not. they want it warm during the day and warm at night too. We make long rows with a hoe, space the seeds about an inch apart, and then cover them with a little soil. That is the easy part. now we must water if it doesn't rain and pull weeds near the little plants as they grow.
Even though most of you do not have a grow light, there are plants that you can grow in soil filled cups on your windowsill. Just make sure that you make small slits or holes in the bottom of the cups for extra water to drain. You will want a saucer under the cup so the extra water doesn't get the windowsill or furniture wet. Good seeds to plant that don't take a long time to grow would be cucumber seeds and green bean seeds. I you like flowers, I would try marigolds or zinnias. when they get larger, you can replant them in bigger pots that can be their home outside. I have 4 tomato plants that are in pots on our deck. If you have a garden spot, you can plant them there instead of leaving them in pots.
since it is getting warm, you can also plant seeds directly into soil-filled pots outside. I would try lettuce seeds, cucumber seeds, and bean seeds. You can buy a tomato plant at a store to put in a pot or in a garden spot since it's a little late to start one from seed.
The most important things to remember are to grow your plants in a sunny spot, water your plants when the soil feels dry (poke your finger down into the soil to check), and have fun growing them!