So it has begun, waking tiny plants from their embrionic state while the thermometer reads well below freezing. Ice still coats my windows and a fresh coat of snow is layering itself atop the garden, but I have dirt under my nails. I love starting seeds. The fact that I can fill trays with soil, add warm water, a few viable seeds and I will have vegetables sprouting in a few days still amazes me. I've been starting seeds indoors for at least fifteen years and I still watch in childlike wonderment as they gently push through the soil and stretch for the light.
On the list of new seeds to try I have the following:
Black Sea Man, very neat looking brown tomato
Sweet Pea Currant tomato, thinking this will be good for pickling
Green Sausage tomato, very attractive fruits and sounds tasty
Japanese Triffle Black tomato, a black high yield and good canning candidate
Opalka, heirloom paste tomato listed in Mother Earth News as a favorite
Tasty Evergreen tomato, heirloom with a sweet flavor and very productive
Early Fortune cucumber, white spined cuke
Empress bush bean
Listada De Gandia eggplant, striped and thin skinned Italian variety (I love the smooth skin of eggplants)
Minnesota Midget melon, U of MN introduction in 1948, sugary sweet 3-4" fruits on 3' vines
Red Burgundy Okra, attractive as an ornamental plant (I plan to eat it as well)
King of the North pepper, thick walled blocky red bell
Hot Portugal pepper, early 65-75 days, very heavy yield
Miniature Yellow Bell pepper, heirloom variety, sweet, small stocky plants, 90 days
Russian Banana, fingerling potatoes, take up a lot of room so going to put them in a tower
All Red, potato
For now I have only planted the leek and onions seeds. I start my seeds a few weeks earlier than most gardeners in zone 4a because I plant them out into the garden under a portable greenhouse and other season extenders. I guess I just like to get a head start so I can have tasty produce even earlier. Next month I'll start the snapdragons, coleus, pansies, cabbage, broccoli and at the end of the month peppers and eggplant.
My seed trays are filled with a soil less mix purchased at the local garden center. I reuse trays from year to year as well as other plastic containers collected throughout the fall and winter. If you are going to reuse trays or pots you do need to disinfect them in a bleach water solution. This helps reduce the risk of losing your seedling to dampening off. Until the seeds germinate I keep the trays in a warm location, bottom heat helps speed the germination process. Once the seeds germinate they are moved to a cool room in the basement and placed under artificial/florescent lights. I check the soil daily and water from the bottom as needed, raise the lights as the tiny plants grow and watch for problems.