I’m starting a range of cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, and melons for Maloca this year.
I use a method called presprouting to get the seeds started before planting them into pots and then I’m going to leave them in my windowsill for a couple weeks before hardening them off. Read on for a description of presprouting and pictures.
I found the idea for presproutng in The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel. I tried it last year and it worked really well that I’m doing it again this year.
The idea of presprouting is to ensure a higher rate of germination with consistent warmth and moisture. To do this I spread the seeds evenly on a damp sheet of paper towel and fold it in half so the seeds are covered. I then store the seeds in a container with a lid. If doing more than one variety in the same container I make sure to label everything.
I then check the seeds each day to see if there are any signs of life. Checking them also allows for a bit of air circulation, which the seeds need.
It is important to plant the seeds before the roots get too big and especially before they start going through the paper towel. I found that the cucumbers were the fastest to germinate and they are already planted, while other seeds have yet to show any signs of life. The seeds pictures below are pumpkins.
I planted the seeds into four-pocket containers by filling them with moist potting soil, poking a hole with my finger a bit deeper than the length of the seed’s root, placing the seed gently in the hole, and then covering it over loosely.
The usual recommendation is to plant these seeds directly into the ground. However, we’ve had problems with drought and Cucumber Beetles the last couple of years, so to be on the safe side I’ve planted the seedlings into pots first so that they get the TLC that they need as seedlings to be strong enough to deal with challenges as older plants.
The varieties that I started are:
Cucumbers – Early Fortune; Marketmore
Squash – Red Kurd; Little Gem; Buttercup; Butternut; Delicata
Pumpkin – Small Sugar
Zucchini – Dark Green
Melons – Hale’s Best