What’s Growing On?

What's Growing On - Paint Covered Overalls - Durham North Carolina - Seed Starter Planter

This article is the second in my What’s Growing Wednesday series about what I’m planting. I’ll be sharing my progress and the things I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully, my research and practice can help others!

My Setup

Currently, I have 3 distinct spaces where things are currently growing:

Indoor Garden. My indoor garden is mounted to the wall in my garage. My main use for this section is growing vegetable and herb plants that have already sprouted. This is a dirt growing system with grow lights and a couple heat lamps in one section of it.

Seed Starters. I’ve converted my entire table saw table into a seed starter table. Hopefully I won’t need my table saw anytime soon!

Because it is in an uninsulated garage, I have heat mats, heat lamps, and a garage heater directed at this section. Most seeds need a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees to sprout, so that was the challenge I was overcoming here.

Outdoor Herb Garden. Finally, I have an outdoor vertical herb garden. I keep it covered over the colder days, but it is filled with things that are relatively cold resistant. It has green onions, sage, romaine lettuce, oregano, and mint right now.

Picture of a vertical herb garden hard built by Richard Bobholz out of cedar plants. It contains, from top left to bottom right, green onions, sage, romaine lettuce, sweet mint, and Italian oregano.
Photo Credit: Richard Bobholz

I used to have basil, but I discovered basil hates the cold very much. It died off pretty early winter.


Most of my plants are just doing their thing right now. I don’t have any plants that are yielding fruits or vegetables. But, I’m hopeful things will start moving quickly here!

A couple weeks ago, I planted my peppers, broccoli, strawberries, and basil for my summer garden. Last week, I had most of the sprouts for the peppers, broccoli, and basil already growing strong.

Growing Progress

Not much has changed in the pepper, basil, and broccoli world. The sprouts are getting larger and I have a few more of the pepper varieties sprouted. Some of the hotter peppers took a little longer. I’m happy to say my Big Jim sprouts went from 3 to 16 over this past week.

Additionally, the Long Thin Cayenne peppers went from 12 to 49! My assumption is that hotter peppers take a few extra days to germinate.

My strawberries still have not germinated. They were planted on January 25, so fingers crossed we’ll see something soon. I did move them to another location where their soil will stay warmer with the hopes that will help. If I’m doing something completely wrong with them, please let me know!

I should also mention that this is the second time I’ve tried to germinate strawberries from seed. I had no success the first time, but I also put them on the soil and left town last time. The soil was completely dry when I got back and there was no consistent temperature.

New Plants

Last night, I put in another large batch of seeds to get started! This batch is mostly leafy greens and herbs.

I planted all of these the same way as my peppers. First, fill plant trays will gardening soil. Next, moisten the soil. Then, plant the seeds according to the depth requirements of those seeds. Finally, supply lots of water from underneath and keep the soil at 70-80 degrees.

These are the plants I just added:

  • Balsam Peppermint Stick
  • Strawberry Spinach
  • Russian Red Kale
  • Bloomsdale Spinach
  • Mustard Spinach
  • Buttercrunch
  • Black Seed Simpson
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Catnip
  • Lemongrass

Once they have a few leaves on them, I’m moving all of the leafy greens outside and covering with plastic. They’re cold resistant and can be transplanted before the last frost date.

I will also be planting the catnip and the parsley outdoors because both of those are cold hardy plants.

Lemongrass is a tropical plant, so that’s staying indoors even a little past the last frost date.

Although dill claims to be cold hardy, last year my dill plants died off right after the cold started. I don’t want to risk it this year because I have plans for pickles!

What I’ve learned

  • In the right conditions, bell peppers will sprout in 4-14 days. Hotter peppers take 7-21 days.
  • Basil sprouts with wet soil and only a mild amount of warmth.
  • Broccoli sprouts so easily, but you want the plant light closer to them so they don’t get leggy.
  • I need more plant lights in my garage.

The Future Planting

I don’t have a lot of planting to do this week. Instead, I’ll be focused on watching for sprouts in these new plants.

In a couple of weeks, I will be planting tomatoes! I have so many varieties! Typically, you plant strawberries, by seed, in late February if you’re in Durham, North Carolina. That way, you can transplant them into your garden a couple weeks after your first frost.

Tomatoes hate cold. They’re one of the most heat picky plants I grow. You shouldn’t put them in your garden until the lows are above 50 degrees.

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Author Details

Richard Bobholz is a full time lawyer and part time amateur carpenter. As a homeowner, he likes to take care of as many home repair, maintenance, and improvement aspects as he can while ensuring things are done the right way the first time. With no real carpentry credentials, his articles focus a lot more on the broad aspects of home care and less on the proper way to do things.


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