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Time to Start Your Seeds 



By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners 

 

Hopefully by now you have your garden sleeping for the winter and have ordered and received your seeds for 2024 crops you want to grow.  You have thought about how and where you want to grow and perhaps even amended your soil.  So, what is next?  You need to have seedlings ready to transplant at the appropriate time.  How do you start?  Figure out what you want to grow, remember that we live in Zone 8 and then familiarize yourself with the information on the back of your seed packet. That will give you an idea about when to transplant or sow directly in the ground.  Previously, we wrote about the different types of seeds.  https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/all-about-seeds    and a specific article about starting tomato seeds indoors.   

 

https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/plant-tomato-seeds-now  Tomatoes are the favorite crop of our local home gardeners, followed by peppers of all kinds.  You know, or maybe you are new to the area and don’t know, that tomato plants must be in the ground and setting fruit by the time July and August temperatures hit.  Most tomatoes will not set fruit when temperatures are over 70 degrees at night or if temperatures are 100 degrees or above for more than a few days.  But as West Texas gardeners learned in 2023 there can be difficult years for vegetable gardening.  My tried-and-true techniques for tomatoes were tested and failed during July and August.  The plants were healthy but there were very few tomatoes because of the high temperatures.   When the hot temperatures finally broke the tomatoes and peppers revived and produced a good fall crop. 

 

Below is a chart that is used by John Cappadonna, West Texas Vegetable Gardeners on Facebook.  It shows when to germinate some of the vegetables that you may want to include in your garden.   John’s information and techniques are invaluable because they are relevant to gardeners here in West Texas.     

 

To start seeds successfully, remember heat, light, and clean conditions.  Read the information on the seed packet to find out the approximate time to germination and figure out when your target transplant date is.  In our area, the target date for transplanting tomatoes outside is March 1 so you want to start them now.    Start your pepper seeds about February 1 to get them outside on April 1.   

 

Start your seeds in your commercial or homemade germination mix.   Check the soil temperature that your seeds require and the amount of light that is needed.  Heating mats or heat lamps can help here but remember to monitor them.  And finally, check your soil moisture.  The seed starting soil should be evenly moist to insure germination.   

 

So, start thinking ahead to ensure your garden will be a dream garden in 2024 and you will have all the produce you want all season long! 

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.   Additional information, and ur blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org.  Click on “Resources”.  

Vegetable 

Indoor Start Date 

Optimum Germination Temp 

 

Target Direct Seed Date 

Target Transplant Date 

Actual Planting Date 

Tomato-Celebrity Plus 

01-15-24 

86 F 

N/A 

03-01-24 

 

Tomato-Jolene 

01-15-24 

86 F 

N/A 

03-01-24 

 

Jalapeno-Big Guy 

02-01-24 

86 F 

N/A 

04-01-24 

 

Cucumber-Sugar Crunch 

03-15-24 

86 F 

N/A 

04-01-24 

 

Okra-Clemson Spineless 

03-07-24 

86 F 

N/A 

04-15-24 

 

Squash-Multipik 

03-15-24 

86 F 

N/A 

04-15-24 

 

Cantaloupe-Sarah’s Choice 

03-15-24 

87 F 

N/A 

04-15-24 

 

Watermelon-Ace Pollinator 

03-25-24 

87 F 

N/A 

04-15-24 

 

Watermelon-Cracker Jack 

03-25-24 

87 F 

N/A 

04-15-24 

 


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