Thomas J. Koske | 12/22/2005 11:39:27 PM
It’s time to start some of Louisiana’s favorite vegetables from seed, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
Tomato seeds are planted seven to nine weeks before the anticipated time of transplanting to the garden, according to Koske, who also says eggplant and bell pepper seeds should be planted about eight to 10 weeks before transplanting.
Koske says that seeds of these three vegetables germinate best at soil temperatures of 70 F to 85 F. He says to grow transplants at 68 F to 80 F during the day and 60 F to 65 F at night. Temperatures much lower will slow and possibly stunt the growth, especially of peppers and eggplants. If plants get large and are to be held for later planting, keep them in the lower 60s and slightly dry.
A common problem that gardeners face is not having enough sunlight to develop a stocky transplant. This is especially true when transplants are grown in a window sill or inside a residential house. Provide full sunlight most of the day from when the seeds break ground. If light is a little low, keep plants cooler and drier; this will take more time to finish.
Tomato vines may be determinate or indeterminate. Koske says indeterminate types are long, vining and will continue to grow until frost. They are pruned to maintain one vigorous stem. Determinants have productive vines that grow to 4 or 5 feet and end in flower clusters. Determinants should receive little or no pruning.
There are dozens of tomato varieties, but not all do very well in Louisiana. Indeterminate varieties that grow well are Champion, Better Boy, Big Beef and Monte Carlo. Pink Girl is a good choice for a pink fruit. Older indeterminate favorites include Terrific, Creole and Jet Star (low acid).
Excellent determinate varieties available for Louisiana include Celebrity, Mountain Fresh, Carnival, Bingo and Floramerica. Some new and promising determinants are Merced, Sanibel, Sunbeam and Mountain Delight. Choose Amelia for spotted wilt virus resistance.
For canning, choose Roma VF, Plum Crimson or Hybrid 882.
Most cherry tomato varieties will produce early and set better in adverse and hot conditions, Koske notes. For Louisiana, select from Juliet, Elfin, Jolly, Mountain Belle, Niagara Belle, Small Fry, Cherry Grande, Sweet 1000 and Sweet Chelsea.
If you’d like to raise eggplants, your choices include Florida Hi Bush, New Orleans Market, Royal Knight, Florida Market and Green Eggplant. Recommended hybrids are Dusky, Epic, Rosita and Black Bell II.
Bell peppers choices include resistant Giant #4, Capistrano and Jupiter. Recommended hybrids are Bell Boy, Valencia, Super Heavyweight, Brigadier, Camelot, Summer Sweet 861 and King Arthur.
More gardening information is available at your local LSU AgCenter office. In addition, look for lawn & gardening and Get It Growing links in the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com.