The Q&A Archives: Peat Pot Duration

Question: I am starting a vegetable garden from seed and I wanted to get a start on nature and germinate indoors. I've got cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon and pumpkins in 2 1/2" peat pods started 5 weeks prior to our last frost(4/5/99). Are these in the correct size pots? Did I start too early & if I did can I do anything to remedy my mistake(s)?

Answer: Tomatoes are usually started about six weeks before the frost date, the others a bit closer to it -- just two weeks or so. The reason for this is that they do not tolerate cold weather or cold soil and are a bit difficult to keep happy indoors for a long period of time (the vines can take up a lot of space).

Your plants will tell you when they outgrow the peat pots -- they will need to be watered more often and may wilt between waterings. They may send roots right through the pots. They may look way out of proportion to the root mass, too. It is important not to stunt seedlings, so the best thing you can do is provide them with maximum light (these are all full sun lovers) and move them into larger pots when they seem crowded in the existing ones.

You will also have to acclimate them gently to life outdoors by hardening them off gradually. If you have a cold frame, this might be the best place for them as they get larger while you wait for warmer weather. Enjoy your plants!

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