The winter is only really picking up speed. Nevertheless, one should already think about the summer vegetable garden of tomorrow – and therefore plan early sowing. What do I have to take to care of?
The trees are bare, the flowerbed barren, the vegetable garden empty. In short: the garden is in hibernation. But if you want to eat vegetables from the garden from spring onwards, you should plan the sowing now.
Many popular flowering and vegetable plants require warmth to germinate. Tomatoes and pumpkins, vetches or nasturtiums are therefore sometimes grown in small pots on the windowsill as early as February and then planted in the garden in May – after the ice saints.
When to sow early
This shortening of the cultivation time in the garden is a plus point, especially for plants that are actually native to warmer areas. “In our comparatively short summers, for example, the tomato would not make it sensibly to ripeness.
Another plus point: The rearing is usually better. “Then there are long periods of drought, scorching sun, maybe sometimes it pours and the seeds wash through the area.” In addition, if sowing too early, voracious snails and other pests could attack the tender young plants.
“Then put out thick, strong plants – they can take off a lot more and they bloom much earlier.”
Important information on the packaging
For many plants there are specific sowing windows from winter to early spring. Information on this can be found on the seed bags, or you can get it from a gardener in specialist shops. Information on quantities can also be found on the packaging. “When it comes to tomatoes, in particular, you can easily have 50 young plants per variety. And who should eat all of that afterwards?”
If you decide to prefer your plants in the pot, the seed must first swell before germination. Some seeds must therefore be briefly wrapped in a damp cloth before planting. For others it is enough to water them well when they are in the ground.
Watering should be done with a delicate shower head and not with a fat stream – carefully and as needed. The potting soil should be weed-free and not fertilized, Schwedtke continues, because too many nutrients damage the seedlings. Later, however, germinated plants of a certain size should be placed out of the nutrient-poor substrate in fertilized soil.
The seedling is carefully lifted out of the seedling soil by the cotyledons and placed in cultivation soil up to the cotyledons.
The potato from the egg carton
Potatoes: From the end of February you can put the seeds in egg cartons or a bowl and place them in a warm, light place in the house for three to four days. Then you have to store them for three to four weeks, light and cool at ten to 15 degrees. Place the side with the most eyes upwards, because the initially reddish or green shoots will later sprout from the knobbly indentations.
A preculture only makes sense if a really bright window sill or a greenhouse is available: “If you don’t have that, you should invest in ready-made young plants from the nursery, or ask hobby gardeners friends whether you can use a corner in the greenhouse.”
I would always give preference to sowing on the spot. Because, firstly, it’s fun and, secondly, the plants that are then planted out are already strong and have more opportunities to grow.
If you prefer your vegetables in the greenhouse, then in winter you should pay attention to the snow load of the roof. If there is too much weight on the roof struts, they could be damaged and later break. For this reason, you should regularly remove the snow from the greenhouse.