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Peppers and tomatoes have long been two of the most beloved and popular crops among gardeners, without which no man can imagine his garden, whether in the north or in the south. And both crops, even with the subsequent planting in open ground, certainly require the cultivation of seedlings so that in the conditions of our rather short summer, truly tasty and beautiful fruits can ripen.
And of course, every gardener dreams of the best, strong and healthy seedlings of tomatoes and peppers. This article will help you take into account all the possible nuances in this difficult matter, and will reveal some of the secrets of growing these plants. In general, everything you would like to know about tomato and pepper seedlings can be gleaned from this article.
General comparative characteristics of plants
Since both tomato and pepper belong to the same nightshade family, both plants have a lot in common in their cultivation and care requirements. Both are very thermophilic, both are very fond of good lighting from the very first minutes of life, both need good watering and intensive nutrition. But these are only general requirements characteristic of most of the primordially tropical plants, abandoned by the will of fate in our northern lands for them.
The table below summarizes the main differences in the requirements of these crops. They will be considered in detail in the course of the article further.
Term of preservation of seed germination
5 to 10 years old, depending on the variety
How many days germinate without preliminary soaking and germination
3 to 10 days (average 4-7 days)
7 to 25 days (average 10 to 15 days)
Attitude to light
Very demanding: the sun is desirable from the first hours of life
Demanding: but can withstand light shading compared to tomatoes
Germination: is it necessary?
It is desirable, especially if the seeds are purchased, or they are more than 2 years old
Seed germination temperature
+ 20 ° C + 25 ° C
+ 25 ° C + 30 °
Attitude to transplant
They easily survive both a dive and a transplant, recover in a few hours
They are badly worried, they can lag behind in growth up to two weeks. Root pinching is excluded
Attitude to penetration when landing
It is possible and even necessary to deepen, for the development of additional roots
Deepening is contraindicated, plant at the same depth + - 5 mm
Day / night temperature after germination
+ 14 + 16 ° С / + 11 + 13 ° С
+ 16 ° С + 18 ° С / + 13 ° С + 15 ° С
How many days from germination to the appearance of 1 true leaves
Day / night temperature after the appearance of 1 true leaves and before planting seedlings
+ 18 + 20 ° C / + 14 + 16 °
+ 19 ° С + 22 ° С / + 17 ° С + 19 ° С
Seedling age before disembarkation
Depends on the variety
Early 35-40 days
Average 45-60 days
Late 60-70 days
Depends on the variety
Early 55-65 days
Late 65-80 days
Average number of leaves on seedlings planted in the ground
How many days from germination to technical maturity of the first fruits
Depends on the variety
Depends on the variety
The number of leaves on the plant, the ratio of pinching
It is imperative to remove the lower leaves when planting in the ground, further pinching and removing stepchildren is mandatory for tall varieties
Each leaf is priceless, the more there are, the better and more successful fruiting will be, remove only yellow and diseased leaves
Dates of sowing seeds for seedlings
The simplest and most effective way to find out when to plant peppers and tomatoes for seedlings is as follows: determine for yourself the time for planting seedlings in the ground (for greenhouses and open ground, the difference can be a month or more).
Considering that both pepper and tomato are heat-loving plants, all frosts in your area should be a thing of the past by this time. Subtract from this period the average age of tomato and pepper seedlings before planting in the ground and also the average time of seed germination. Get that approximate deadline. But keep in mind that these figures are average and are mainly calculated for fairly good conditions for growing seedlings: a lot of light, heat, suitable containers, etc.
When exposed to at least one unfavorable factor, the delay in the development of tomato and pepper seedlings can reach from two weeks to a month. On the other hand, by preparing seeds for sowing, germination and subsequent treatment with various stimulants, it is possible to accelerate the development of tomato and pepper seedlings by 2-3 weeks. That is why very often in many manuals the average dates of sowing seeds are indicated:
For pepper, as a rule, the end of February is the first decade of March. For a tomato, usually the whole month of March and sometimes the beginning of April.
Important! You also need to consider the requirements of the particular variety you are going to sow.
After all, late-ripening indeterminate tomatoes for seedlings are sometimes sown even earlier than some early-ripening peppers.
Selection of seeds, their preparation for sowing
The seeds that you buy in stores, ideally, should comply with GOST, and go through the main stages of pre-sowing processing. But in reality, what can not be found in bright, colorful-looking packages. Therefore, for the seeds of both crops, even if the seeds are their own, homemade, it is necessary to carry out a number of procedures that will help to select defective, obviously non-perceptible and enhance the life energy in the rest.
Selection of the best seeds
Prepare a 3% solution of table salt (30 g per 1 liter of water), dip the seeds of those varieties of tomatoes and peppers that you are going to plant into it, shake well with a spoon and wait 5-10 minutes. All those that come up are weak, not suitable for sowing - it is better to throw them away. As a last resort, if there are not enough seeds and you feel sorry for them, you can make a single mixture from the defective seeds of all varieties and sow them in a separate container - suddenly something will sprout.
Important! Do not forget to rinse the remaining seeds well in water after saline, otherwise you may destroy them.
After rinsing with water, the tomato and pepper seeds are scattered on paper and dried.
Immediately before sowing, the seeds are immersed in a 1% solution of potassium permanganate and kept there for 10-15 minutes. Necessarily washed after in running water and dried. This procedure is highly desirable for both pepper seeds and tomatoes. Since such treatment is the prevention of many diseases and infections, which can then damage the development of seedlings and especially adult plants. If you cannot find potassium permanganate, a working solution of phytosporin will be a good substitute for it (diluted according to the instructions on the package). For many infections, it will be even more effective than potassium permanganate.
Treatment with microelements and growth stimulants
The easiest option is to soak tomato and pepper seeds in a solution of wood ash, which contains about 30 different microelements. To do this, dissolve 2 g of ash (an incomplete tablespoon) in a liter of water and infuse the solution for a day, stirring occasionally. Then the seeds placed in gauze bags are dipped into it for 3 hours, washed with water and dried.
Seed steeping is often used in various growth stimulants. You can use both home remedies: honey, aloe juice, and purchased ones: epin, zircon, energen, HB-101, humates, baikal-EM and others.
You can just buy a ready-made set of trace elements, dilute it according to the instructions and soak the seeds in it for 12-24 hours. It is not necessary to rinse the seeds after this procedure, you can either dry them dry for sowing (possibly for tomato seeds), or start germination (preferably for pepper seeds).
Soaking and germination
This method is only necessary if you are a little late with the sowing dates and want to speed up the emergence of seedlings. In other cases, there is no need for germination for tomato seeds. For pepper seeds, especially if they are not the freshest (over 2 years old), germination can help.
For this, pepper seeds, pickled and soaked in various solutions, are placed in a humid environment. You can use wet cotton swabs, between which the seeds are laid out, and put them in any plastic container with a lid or just in a plastic bag. The temperature for germination must be at least + 25 ° С. Pepper seeds can begin to germinate within a day. Naked seeds are sown only in a wet substrate.
This procedure makes sense mainly for northern regions with unstable weather conditions. However, if you have a lot of free time and have a desire to experiment, then you can harden the seeds even in the more southern regions, so that later you can be able to plant tomato and pepper seedlings earlier and in open ground. It is carried out in two ways.
- After dressing, the seeds are soaked in warm water, and after swelling for 3-6 hours, they are placed in a cold place (+ 1 ° + 2 ° C) for 24 - 36 hours. After drying, the seeds are sown.
- A more complicated way is when the swollen seeds of tomatoes and peppers are exposed to variable temperatures for a week: they are kept at a temperature of + 20 ° + 24 ° C for 12 hours, and at + 2 ° + 6 ° C for the next 12 hours.
When choosing the last method, you need to remember that hardening cannot be delayed due to the possible overgrowth of sprouts.
Preparation of the substrate and containers for sowing seeds
The solution to the question of in what land mixture and in what containers to grow pepper and tomato seedlings is equally important both for the seedlings themselves and for the gardener, who may have limited space on the windowsills.
If you are a novice gardener and you do not have a lot of seedlings, then we can confidently advise using peat tablets for the first time.
When using them, at the first stage, the problem with both containers and soil is solved at the same time. It is especially important to use peat tablets for planting peppers for seedlings, since this culture does not like picks.
Tomatoes can be sown for a start in any flat containers, so that after the appearance of the first two or three true leaves, they can be cut into separate pots. Any cardboard and plastic container with a volume of 500 ml or more can also be used as pots. Before filling, it must be rinsed well and disinfected for 15-30 minutes in a dark pink solution of potassium permanganate. You can use peat tablets for sowing a tomato, but it makes sense only for some especially valuable varieties, the seeds of which you have literally a few pieces.
Attention! Peat tablets already contain all the necessary nutrients and antibacterial substances for the comfortable growth and development of tomato and pepper seedlings in the first 2-3 weeks.
The tablets must be placed in a pallet container, gradually moistened to a 5-6 fold increase in height, sow the prepared seeds into the recesses, cover with a substrate and, closing the container with a lid, place in a warm place.
If you have a large number of seedlings and enough experience, you can sow peppers in special plastic cassettes for seedlings and in separate cups, including even those made from paper or polyethylene yourself.
In this case, you will need a primer. Of course, you can buy any specialized soil for seedlings or for peppers and tomatoes in the store. But even it must be first calcined in the oven before use, and then spilled with Baikal EM to restore the soil microflora.
If you want to compose the soil yourself, then both for tomatoes and for peppers, a substrate of the following composition is quite suitable: sod land (land from the garden) - 1 part, leaf land (taken in a park or forest from under any trees, except oak and willow) - 1 part, humus - 1 part, sand (perlite, vermiculite) - 1 part. You can add some wood ash and crushed eggshells. Before use, this soil mixture must also be processed in the oven.
From sowing seeds to emergence
So, you have decided on the timing of sowing, even guessed a suitable day according to the lunar calendar, prepared seeds for sowing, as well as soil and appropriate containers. You can start sowing. There is nothing complicated in this procedure. Sowing in peat tablets was discussed above. When using soil, it is also advisable to shed it a day before sowing in order to ensure uniform moisture. Fill all containers with soil and, after making depressions, sow seeds to the depth indicated in the table above for tomatoes and peppers, respectively. The earth is slightly compacted from above.
After that, the containers must be covered with polyethylene on top to create greenhouse conditions and placed in a warm place. Warmth for the sown seeds is now the most important thing. They don't need light yet.
After a few days, it is advisable to place the tomatoes closer to the light so as not to miss the long-awaited sprouts. When the first shoots loops appear, containers with tomato seedlings must be placed in the brightest place and it is advisable to illuminate around the clock even in the first few days.
Pepper seedlings are also supplied 5-6 days after sowing. But compared to tomatoes, peppers do not so badly need sun in the first stage, and therefore their sprouts can even stand second row on the windowsill. True, they will also treat the supplementary lighting favorably.
Attention! Immediately after germination, the temperature for both peppers and tomatoes should be lowered.
A small difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures is also required.
A decrease in temperature during the first two weeks of seedling development before the opening of the first true leaf allows the tomato and pepper seedlings to get stronger, harden and not stretch out. See the table above for specific values.
Sometimes it so happens that the seed coat remains on the sprouts that have crawled out of the ground. This is usually due to insufficient seed penetration. It must be regularly and carefully moistened with a spray bottle until it softens and bounces off by itself. It is undesirable to help her, you can destroy the sprout.
From germination to planting in the ground
Additionally, watering the soil before the opening of the first leaf is undesirable, at a cool temperature in which the seedlings should be during this period, the substrate should not dry out. But if it seems to you that it is completely dry, you can slightly sprinkle it on the sides of the planting container.
In general, watering seedlings in the first weeks of life is a very delicate matter. This is especially true for tomatoes, which are very often poured. The frequency of watering should completely depend on the temperature at which the seedlings are kept. In the future, on hot and sunny days, the frequency of watering can reach up to 2 times a day, on cloudy and cold days, you can limit yourself to watering 2-3 times a week. Peppers also need to be watered only when the topsoil is dry.
When the tomato seedlings release 2-3 true leaves, they must be transplanted into separate containers. The land for replanting can be taken with a high content of humus. Tomato seedlings are planted with a deepening to the cotyledon leaves and even deeper if it is still stretched out. It is only important to remove the lowest leaves so that they do not touch the ground.
Pepper does not like picks and transplants, but even if you grow pepper for seedlings in peat tablets, then when 2-3 true leaves appear (or even better, when the roots appear from the tablet), it must be transferred into large containers.
When placing a tablet with a plant in a new pot, practically do not cover the seedlings with soil.
Advice! Pepper seedlings should not be buried.
You can take liter pots right away, or you can take half-liter pots so that in three weeks they can be transferred into even larger pots. Only in this case, the seedlings of tomatoes and peppers will develop fully and subsequently be able to give a good harvest.
After picking, it is advisable to shade tomato and pepper seedlings from direct sun for several days. Two weeks after transplanting, the seedlings can be fed with any complex fertilizer, preferably with a full set of trace elements. Before landing in the ground, you can feed it 2-3 more times.
Warning! The temperature of the ground mix is especially important for growing pepper seedlings - be sure to protect it from cold windowsills by placing it on a board or foam layer.
A few weeks before the date when we want to plant tomato and pepper seedlings in open ground, be sure to start hardening the seedlings. On warm sunny days, take containers with seedlings outside, at least on the balcony. You can start with 20-30 minutes a day at a temperature of + 15 ° C, further increasing the residence time of tomato and pepper seedlings in the fresh air up to a whole day, bringing them into the house only at night.
For planting seedlings in the ground, it is better to choose a cloudy warm day. As with transplantation, tomato seedlings are buried to the bottom leaf, and pepper seedlings are planted without burying, in general. Planted plants are best tied to a suitable support immediately.
With the planting in the ground, the seedling stage of growing tomatoes and peppers ends and another story begins.