Planting tomato, cherry tomato, and pepper seedlings, seedling update, and awesome news

Our 2021 spring garden!

Picture of seedling trays on a cedar chest with grow lights above them
Our growing station for our seedlings.

You guys, I am soooo excited!! Before I get into talking about our seedlings, I want to share some awesome news I got yesterday with you!!! Last year my daughter and I started our first garden together. It was a small (in-ground) garden, for a couple of reasons. The number one reason was that her husband wasn't too excited about tearing up their backyard for a huge garden. Another reason was that we got a bit of a late start on it and seeds were hard to find due to the pandemic. Even with the odds against it, our little garden (14' x 20') gave us a nice harvest. It was such a nice harvest that we wanted to plant even more this year! So, yesterday my son-in-law approved my daughter's request to expand the garden to double it's size!!!! I am so excited!!! I just had to share that with you! And, not only that, but also yesterday my son-in-law built a stand that we can attach our grow lights to for our seedlings! (See picture above.) Needless to say, yesterday was a pretty awesome day for me!!

Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers

Now, on to our seedling adventure! It's been a couple of days ago, but we did plant some tomato, cherry tomato, and bell pepper seeds.

seedling tray with bell peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes
Bell peppers, tomatoes, and cherry tomatoes.

We planted 6 pots of bell peppers, 3 pots of cherry tomatoes, and 6 pots of regular tomatoes. They aren't anything exotic, just some Bonny Best Tomato, Chadwick Cherry Tomato, and California Wonder Pepper seeds. This year I got all of our garden seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I started ordering them back in December, just in case there was a shortage again this year, lol. I wanted the heirloom seeds because I'm going to try saving seeds from our garden this year, and heirloom seeds are the way to go with seed saving.

It was a simple planting: using pre-moistened seed starting potting mix in the pots, just poked a 1/4 inch or 1/8 inch deep hole in the soil in the middle of each pot with a finger, put 3-4 seeds in each hole, and covered the seeds. I did spray each pot with water after planting the seeds.

Once the seeds were planted, my daughter wrote out the garden plant markers (she has much better handwriting than I do, lol) and put them in place. Then, I covered the tray with the clear plastic dome. The dome doesn't fit tight on these trays, so they do not have a lot of moisture build up. I'm not sure how good they are working, but they are much better than the mess of saran wrap that I used on the onions! Now, we wait.

Onions and strawberries update

Onion seeds in pot starting to germinate
The onions are starting to germinate.

The onions started germinating about 4 days after the seeds were planted. I was really surprised!! So, I had to put the strawberry seedlings in a different tray so I could put the grow lights on the newly sprouted onions. It is such a wonderful feeling when you see plants starting to grow!! A feeling of accomplishment, for sure.

Onion seedlings in their seed tray underneath LED grow lights
The onion seedlings under the LED grow lights.

When I first put the onions underneath the LED grow light I wasn't sure how far away from the seedlings the lights should be. So, I started out at about 11 inches above the seedlings, per the manufacturer's recommendation. That didn't seem like the lights were close enough because the seedlings were starting to look a little "leggy". So, I lowered the lights to about nine inches. The seedlings were doing better, but the light still seemed too far away. What do I know? I'm new to all of this. So, I checked on a Facebook gardening group and got quite a few confusing answers. So, I did as most suggested, and moved the lights closer; to within about four inches (although the suggestions were two inches). Then, the seedlings started to look like they were too hot and parched. So, I ended up moving the lights back up to the nine inches spot. This all took place over the course of three days. Now, the seedlings are looking a bit better and I'm hoping they will be happy with the lighting where it is.

The onion seedlings on 3-15-2021
The onion seedlings on 3-15-2021

As you can see in the above picture, which was taken today, the seedlings were getting long and stringy. But, the one on the right is coming in much more stout and sturdy. So, I'm hoping I've got the LED lights and the right distance now. Who knew that grow lights could be so difficult?

Speaking of grow lights. The reason I went with the clamp on ones is because I do not have a place or a way to use the single long lights. So, the portable clamp on lights were the ones that I found would work best for me. But, even those were proving to be quite the hassle for the area that I had to use them in. Thus, my being so happy when my son-in-law made that stand with 2x4s for me so I could attach the lights to it.

Potted strawberry seeds in a seed tray
The strawberries at day 11.

The strawberries look basically the same as they did the day they were planted. But, that's okay, because according to their package, they can take anywhere from 14-48 days to germinate. 48 days?1?1 They are Alexandria Strawberries, which are everbearing and can produce fruit their first year. So, I'm expecting they will be worth the wait.

I think that covers everything for today. Coming up next we're going to be planting some lettuce, spinach, and kale. I was concerned that we wouldn't really have enough room in the garden for those and that we'd be having to plant them in containers. But, with the great news yesterday of our garden expansion, there will be plenty of room for them there!! Yay!!

If you'd like to chime in and talk about your seedlings or your garden plans, I'd be happy to chat with you in the comment section below. Or, if you have any suggestions regarding my grow lighting or the onions, please feel free to share them, in the comment section as well.

Until next time...happy prepping, and God bless!