In a cool climate, sowing tomatoes and peppers indoors is often one of the first sowing jobs of the gardening year. Sowing these summer crops when we are still in the depths of winter might sound a little odd. But in areas with a short growing season, getting sowing soon can allow you to make sure you get a worthwhile yield of these fruits before the cold weather arrives once more.
These warm climate plants do need certain things to germinate and thrive, however. And gardeners growing tomatoes and peppers indoors need to pay attention to these things.
The first thing to remember is that tomatoes and peppers germinate best with a little heat. So place a propagator in a warm spot, or use a heat mat or heated propagator when starting your seeds. You can succeed when you simply sow these things at room temperature. But germination rates will be better if you provide the heat they like best.
Once the tomatoes and peppers have germinated, lack of light is the main issue those with cold, dark winters have to contend with. Seedlings that struggle with the short daylight hours further north often get leggy and bend towards the light. You can simply struggle on, using foil to reflect light and give your plants as much as possible, and turning trays and pots when necessary.
But you could also consider investing in some LED grow lights. This can be helpful when your goal is growing early in the year to extend the growing season in a cold climate.
It is also important to prick out seedlings or thin excess seedlings in a timely fashion, so their growth is not checked by competition. And to pot up your plants before they are stunted or flower prematurely due to being kept in too small a container.
It is still a long time before you will place your tomato and pepper plants in an unheated greenhouse or polytunnel or outdoors. But sowing inside in winter can help you make sure that you are not left with lots of green tomatoes at the end of the year.