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Seed Starting 2023 and Save the Date for our Plant Sale

February 1, 2023

Real gardeners are not letting grass grow under their feet; they are busy starting seeds. By starting seed indoors you can extend a plant’s growing season, scoop up new and varied varieties of seed rather than depending on garden center transplants, and maybe even save money. Packages of seeds are so much less expensive than transplants.

The Master Gardeners at Raincatchers Garden have seed starting operations in their homes.

This is Joe Armitage, Class of 2019, and his set up with LED lights. He started Tasmanian Chocolate and VR Moscow tomato seeds on 1/10/23.

Jackie James has a simple set up in her sunny window for seed starting and uses reading lamps to provide extra light.She enjoys up cycling take home containers. They work just as well as store bought trays with humidity domes for germination.Pimento peppers planted January 14th are already sprouting.

Peppers in production are:

Mad Hatter, Purple Jalapeno, Lemon Spice Jalapeno, Orange Spice Jalapeno, Aji Amarillo, Hot Hungarian Banana Pepper, Cherry Bomb, Pimento, Shishito, Fish Pepper, Hot Pops Purple Ornamental, Santos Orange Ornamental, Wicked Purple Ornamental. 

Sheila Kostleny has started pepper seeds for the North garden at Rainctcher’s and our plant sale. Sweet Jimmy Nardello, Northstar Hybrid, Gypsy Hybird, Habanada and Early Jalapeno are in production.  

As seen on the bottom rack, Sheila is trying paper towel germination for Marconi Sweet pepper, Tam Jalaepeno and Rainbow Blend Lunchbox Peppers.

Jim Dempsey uses a grow light with three trays and each tray holds two 72 count seed trays. He planted the peppers around January 18 and plans to start tomatoes in the next few days. Next he will plant flower seeds.

Jim has a total of 175 peppers in this tray.

These seedlings will be potted up and planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden in the spring. Many varieties will also be sold at our plant sale in May.

Ann Lamb, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2005, with input from Beverly Allen

NEWS-OUR PLANT SALE AT THE RAINCATCHER’S GARDEN IS SCHEDULED FOR MAY 4TH!

Are Tomatoes The Jerkiest/ Most Obnoxious Plant There Is?

June 12, 2022

 I have given up thinking about tomatoes in terms of their life cycle. Instead I look at it this way;  each stage is an ongoing disaster until we shut down the whole operation in July because they will no longer set fruit. 

The life of a tomato is a progression through fungal disease, wilt, blight, and infestations of mites and hornworms.  We anticipate these events and do our best to prevent them but around June you can easily find yourself, as I did, staring at hornworms the size of my index finger.  Owing to their coloring, hornworms are perfectly camouflaged until they have defoliated their habitat, i.e. our tomato plants. (We sentenced the hornworms to community service at our host organization’s preschool so the children could observe their transformation into sphinx moths.)

Don’t forget that while you are dealing with disease and pests, you must also be aware of your tomato’s changing fertilizer and watering needs.  Decrease the nitrogen when they start to bloom. Keep your tomatoes watered consistently and while doing so consult your crystal ball for the next unexpected rain that will cause them to split. 

Are tomatoes the jerkiest plant – making us work much harder than any plant should expect? Or, are they good for us in the sense that taking care of something other than ourselves is good therapy? 


The tomatoes harvested so far this year have redeemed themselves by joining the peppers in family packs donated to North Dallas Shared Ministries.

Beverly Allen, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2018

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