What You Need:
Look for tomato seeds that are of a plum or paste variety, such as Roma or Amish paste, which produce oval, meaty tomatoes with few seeds that are perfect for cooking into sauce. Then you’ll need a packet each of basil seeds and seeds for the pepper or peppers of your choice (choose from sweet bell types or spicier ones, depending on your tastes). Pick up a small bag of organic seed-starting medium or potting soil, also organic. If you can’t find organic, look for one with no added synthetic fertilizers. The store may also have a selection of pots, pellets, and other pricey paraphernalia for starting seeds. Leave it all on the shelf! You’ve already got plenty of things to repurpose at home in your recycling bin. Any container you can punch holes in the bottom of for drainage can be used as a plant pot. Put your seed-starting containers or pots in a watertight tray or dish, or use those clear-plastic clamshell containers that salads or takeout dinners come in. The lids make perfect built-in greenhouse tops, which help keep the soil moist until the plants get too tall.
Starting Your Seedlings:
Once you’ve got your containers filled with planting medium (two pots each for tomatoes, basil, and peppers), poke two seeds into the center of each pot and cover with loose planting medium. Seed packets usually tell you how deep to plant your seeds, but for these, about a quarter inch below the surface will be just fine. Water each pot enough that everything is nice and moist but there isn’t any standing water in the bottom of the tray after a few minutes. (If there is, pour it off if.) Close the clamshell if you are using one, and put it in a warm place, such as on the top of your refrigerator or on an electric heating pad set on low. Ideally, you’ll want to keep the germinating seeds at 80 to 90 degrees F, but 70 to 80 degrees will work, although it may take your seeds a bit longer to sprout.
Your seeds won’t need light until they start to sprout, but once they do (tomatoes take about a week, peppers and basil almost two weeks) — move the tray to a sunny windowsill. Lacking a sunny windowsill? Place the seeds under a lamp outfitted with a “full-spectrum” bulb—a desk lamp with an adjustable arm is a good choice—and keep it a few inches above the top of your seedlings, and turned on 12 to 14 hours a day.
Keep your seedlings’ potting medium moist (but not standing in water), and turn the pots periodically to keep the little sprouts from stretching in just one direction. Once the plants get their second set of leaves, carefully snip off the smaller seedling in each pot, leaving just one per pot. Gently brush your hand over your little plants every day, which keeps them from getting tall and leggy—and it releases their yummy summery smells!
Moving Your Seedlings:
When nights are staying above freezing and there is no frost in the 10-day forecast, you can get your seedlings adjusted to the sun and wind. Move the tray outside for part of the day and bring it back in at night; keep this up for a couple of days. When the risk of frost has passed, put your seedlings into a prepared garden bed or some large containers, and water well enough that the soil is wet or water is coming out of your containers’ drainage holes. Keep an eye on the weather so you can cover the young plants with a sheet if an unexpected late frost threatens.
Another way to be good to yourself is with a gentle, healthful Vegan Flush. It’s a two-week cleanse that will clean the toxins from your body and leave you feeling better than you have in years. No pills or starving yourself, just healthy vegan food. Give your body a chance to regenerate itself. Click the link to Vegan Flush to read more about it. You’ll be so glad you did.
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