In previous years, I've successfully started large numbers of seedlings in peat based potting mix. This year, in an attempt to move away from peat, I switched to a coir/perlite mix.
For reasons that aren't entirely clear, things aren't working as I'd hoped. One of the reasons for this post is to let readers who were counting on me to start their peppers and tomatoes know that the plants aren't in the best shape. For all I know, the plants will recover when transplanted into a peat based potting mix. That's my hope. If you don't want to take that chance, you might want buy your tomato and pepper seedlings elsewhere.
First, the good news. The eggplants look incredible. Even better than what in previous years I'd started in peat based potting mix.
About half of the tomatoes and all of the peppers look unhealthy. It would be easy enough to say that the coir is to blame, as it's the major difference between this and previous years; but with all the glowing reports on the benefits of growing in coir, it could just be that I bought a bad batch. Or that someone put peanut butter in my chocolate. (Huh?)
I've sent out a sample of the coir to a testing lab, but the results won't be back for a while. The peppers look anemic, though with a recent addition of gypsum (to make up for the nutritional deficiencies of coir), there is some promising new growth. The tomatoes have some funny looking lesions and aren't as "bushy" as they've been in previous years.
If you're looking for another place to pick up a few seedlings, a couple places that sell interesting varieties come to mind.
Green City Market Farmer's Market (every Wed and Saturday)
Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse Sale (May 15,16, and 19)
I've been hardening off my seedlings, and for those of you who haven't been discouraged by my post, they'll be ready for pick up starting this Saturday, May 15th.
I'll add some pictures tomorrow when I get my hands on a camera.