If you want to get an early start with your summer vegies, why not sow seeds into pots on a windowsill, ready for transplanting when the weather’s warm enough? The kitchen windowsill right above the sink usually offers the position with the best chance of success as it’s easy to keep an eye on the pots. This means there’s far less chance of them drying out and they can be rotated regularly to receive even amounts of light.
Tomatoes, capsicums, chillis and, possibly, eggplants are some of the best choices for windowsill germination.
Fill small, windowsill-sized pots with Yates Seed Raising Mix. Water and allow to drain. Sow tomato seeds, cover lightly and water again. After the seedlings emerge, thin crowded plants so that there’s at least a couple of centimetres between them. Begin feeding every week with half-strength Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food.
If you’re in a late-frost area you may need to move the young tomatoes into individual pots and continue to grow them under cover until the frosts are over.
One great advantage with tomatoes is that, even if the seedlings get a bit leggy, when it comes time to move them into their permanent garden home the seedlings can be planted quite deeply. New roots will form underground from the nodes, the tiny bumps on the lower part of the stem.
While the seedlings are growing and you’re waiting for the soil to warm up, take the opportunity to prepare the planting bed. Dig in some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. In acid-soil areas (where azaleas flourish) add a small amount of Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime & Dolomite.
These plants are closely related to tomatoes, so grow in similar conditions. Yates seed range includes two popular capsicum varieties. The traditional Capsicum Giant Bell produces large fruit that can be used when green or allowed to mature to a rich red. Capsicum Colour Salad Selection can eventually ripen to produce red, yellow, orange or purple fruit. These are both classed as ‘sweet’ because they don’t have the hotness of chillis.
Chillis grow on much smaller plants, so they make ideal pot plants. They also seem to be able to stand up to more cold (although they don’t like frost) and, in favourable conditions, can survive for a year or more. Early sowings should be kept indoors or under glass until the weather warms. But sowing in a protected spot in August gives you a valuable early start.
Eggplants, which require a long growing season, are also candidates for a windowsill start but, as they don’t like their roots being disturbed, seedlings must be transplanted with great care.