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Gardening
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Plant batch number two

 
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The new setup for the seedlings is working spectacularly. Its turned out broccoli sprouts and fennel large enough to transplant into pots already. Even the catnip is growing like mad, and so far has gone unnoticed by the cats. I don’t know how long that will be true, but so far it’s a tiny miracle that I’m not taking for granted. In fact, things are going well enough that I’ve started the first crop of tomato seeds, for the early fruit that we may or may not actually get.

My method of growing plants has changed drastically and this seems to be making the lions share of the difference in the seedling robustness. This year, instead of trying to rely on sunlight, I’ve set up a shelving unit with florescent lighting above them. The lights get nice and warm, keeping the soil at a good temperature for germination and they’re on for about 8 hours a day, so they’re giving good, consistent light to the starts once they pop up. I have the sprouts in a seedling flat that sits on an old cookie sheet and draws water from the base – I put water in the sheet instead of watering from the top. So far, I’d say I’m at about a 90% germination rate. Most of the seeds are from last year and I wasn’t particularly kind to them during storage, so I can’t expect much more than that.

 
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The hard part in this scenario is that the starts take up so much room after they’re separated into their 4″ pots that it’s going to be difficult to keep them all under lights until they’re ready for the (not yet built) cold frames. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but I expect that I’ll be able to put at least a few more on one of the shelves that’s not currently occupied. It may require some re-assembly of the shelving unit, but that’s only an afternoons worth of work. Here’s to hoping that I don’t forget to water and lose the lot!

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.


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wow. the seedling method looks good. Very serious rig you have there. I don't know where such a thing would go in my house - but then I don't have the yard space for all those flats! I've got all my plants in the ground right now and my mom kindly told me I was jumping the gun given the current night time temps. So I'll be putting little plastic blankets over most of my plants in the hopes that such a thing will help to keep the soil warm (as it is advertised to do) and keep my little plants from failing just out of spite for the cold.
Next year, I'll wait until May for many things. I need a fricking chart of night time temps vs. when starts go in the ground!

I think there's a local last frost date around here somewhere. That's the best thing to use. And of course, for shorts growing seasons like ours, plastic works wonders. Technically they're cloches, so you're actually doing something pretty fancy. ;)

I didn't realize that plain old florescents would do the trick - I thought you needed those sun mimicking beasts.

It's the kelvin rating on the florescent that makes the difference. And since they all seem to be the same price any more, it's not nearly the big deal it used to be. I got the cheapest fixtures I could find, since they're staying in the house. Some of them don't like low night temperatures though. They're just as fussy as the plants!

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