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.
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!