I was good this year and started my seeds 2-3 weeks ago. Many of them are up now and getting tall and lanky. The weather seems too cold at night to transplant them into the garden, but they are ready for it. What should I do with them until the garden is ready? Any suggestions are appreciated.
Tomatos- need to be potted up at least once before setting out in the garden, and unless they have protection, it won't be time to set them out until after the last chance of frost. My landlord in SC sets his out on April 16th. Some people like to wait longer, to make sure the soil is good and warm. You can use walls of water, row covers and all of that to set them out earlier, but I'm not convinced these measures results in an earlier yield. To pot them up, bury them up to their necks in a tallish container. You could use salvaged big red plastic dixie cups with small holes punched in the bottom, or salvaged water bottles with the tops removed or something similar. Ater they're potted, they need some liquid nutrition and direct overhead light. I always used compost tea, but many people use very dilute fish emulsion or put a few tablespoons of dry all-purpose organic fertilizer in a full watering can overnight.
Peppers-may need more room, more light, and a snack. They'll go in the garden about the same time as the tomatos. Both tomatos and peppers need to be hardened off before being planted. An important difference between peppers and tomato seedlings is that peppers don't grow new roots out of their stems if buried, so they don't need as tall a container as a tomato. Don't bury them up to their necks, in other words.
Melons-are touchy about having their roots disturbed, so they may well need more room, but they won't like being put in a new container. I'd consider putting them in a peat-pot or an appropriately sized pot you make out of newspaper. Then, when it's time to plant them, (some time after the toms and peppers, maybe as late as May) you can just set them in the ground and the roots will grow through the walls of the container. Your cantalopes probably also need more light and a snack. It's not too late to start over on melons. If you don't feel like coddling your transplants until transplant time, you could, in theory, toss them out and plant new seed in peat or newspaper pots four or five weeks prior to when you decide they should go into the garden.
Cilantro and parsley hate hot weather. They were Spring-only crops for me in Texas.
And I've never transplanted carrots, so I can't help you there.
I know there are more experienced gardeners more who know more about this climate who can add to or correct this, but maybe you have enough to go on, now. Good luck!
I am so glad that you jumped in here. I was not awake enough to answer anything last night. To continue my post:
Carrots? They generally don't transplant well. They will make a top, but fail to make useful roots. Chard and beets fall in this area as well.
Tomatoes. Better be safe than sorry...wait until later in April. I spoke to my grandmother, a retired farmer, and she said that due to the changes in climate we experience here, it's better to be safe than sorry. (I can remember freezes well into April and even snow--however that was in the 70's, if I am not mistaken).
Melons--I have never had luck with them...let me know how they work.
Cilantro and parsley? I don't have luck planting in the ground--I container garden with those (as well as tomatoes) and I prefer to give them a dose of morning sunshine and bring them back in. I also have planters in my kitchen that work really well.
I hope you haven't put them out yet. If you have, cover them well as tonight's freeze could do your seedlings in. I think that by Wednesday, you will be safe to put them out. However, it's not uncommon to have freezing weather into April here.
Thanks for the advice. I've opted to do the peat pots with most of the plants. So far the tomato, pepper, and melon seem happy with that. The carrots and cilantro were in a small planter already so I just added more soil to them. I'm also putting carrot seeds directly in the garden so I won't have to worry about hurting them in transplant. I'm going to have to start over with the parsley. I like the idea of keeping that and cilantro inside. I wonder if a shaded spot would work well for them also?