Starting seed indoors part 3: Vegetable varieties to start early

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

By and large most vegetable crops can be planted when specified on seed packets, outdoors, and they will fare much better than if raised in artificial conditions.

A few varieties can be planted in winter with a bit of help from artificial lighting. There are two main reasons to plant veg under lights in winter:

1. For varieties which originate from parts of the world with longer/warmer growing seasons than in the UK;

2. To achieve two crops of varieties like tomatoes which traditionally are only grown once a year.

Aubergines, chillies, peppers and tomatoes need a long, hot summer to yield big harvests. These plants originate from more southerly latitudes countries with much longer, hotter summers than in the UK.

To achieve big harvests in the UK these plants need to be started in early spring, but these varieties really need heat and good light to germinate and grow well. These conditions occur in about April, but if you sow seed in April the plant will not be ready to fruit until about June/July. This only leaves two months of good weather for fruiting and ripening.

Ideally, come April these plants should be 8 weeks old, so when you plant them outside in May they are ready to flower; this means the plant has four months of good growing conditions to fruit.

I get two harvests of each of these varieties. The first lot are sown under lights in January, begin fruiting in May and crop by July, the second lot are sown in March, fruit in late June and yield in late August/September.

Commercial growers take this one step further and sow seed throughout the year, utilising artificial lights to manipulate the seasons, thus harvesting all year round.

If this is confusing please email!

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