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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 Black Magic 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 Natural Fish & Seaweed+ Plant Food Concentrate.
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 Organic Plant Food. In acid-soil areas (where azaleas flourish) add a small amount of Yates Thrive Natural Garden Lime.
Capsicums and Chillies
These plants are closely related to tomatoes, so grow in similar conditions. Yates seed range includes three 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. Capsicum Corno di Toro is a popular heirloom variety, producing long, curved green fruit (up to 25cm) which eventually mature to bright red. These are all classed as ‘sweet’ because they don’t have the hotness of chillis.
Chillies 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. For mild-medium heat chilli lovers, try Chilli Pepper Jalapeño Organic, Chilli Long Red Cayenne or Chilli Jwala, but for those who like it hot, try Chilli Habanero or Chilli Birds Eye.
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. Try Eggplant Baby Brinjal or Eggplant Blacknite.