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Planting season

This year we went smart and rented a rototiller. Of course we waited for it to actually get sunny, which probably means we waited too long. But milk with that as the tiller took two hours to complete the cleanup of the garden where last year it took me several weekends and a lot of unhappy digging. So this is definitely a model we’ll be repeating, particularly as the cost of rental is much more reasonable than owning our own and the accompanying maintenance.

So with that success under our belt, I have put in a few rows of plants – peas, beans, some early broccoli and onions. All in the sunniest location and the best spot for the to get unfettered rain but some warmth as well. Your guess as to the results is as good as mine at this point as the seeds were very old. Still, no loss yet and I haven’t used the full square footage ever so no loss either way.

The plan for the rest is to head out to the local senior center sale to pick up some seedlings (time has been hard to come by) and plunk the into the ground after last frost. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Fresh peas and beans seem to just motivate me like crazy.

Crossposted from Journey to the Center, comment here or there with OpenID.

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Do you plant seeds directly in the ground? Other than carrots, which don't transplant well, I start seeds in about an inch and a half of seed-starting formula in a quart pot cut down to three inches or so in height. It gives me the option of trying older seed, from which I might not get much return, without wasting as much effort and space.

I have a greenhouse full of lettuce and arugula right now.

I've had far better luck with planting directly than with starting seeds indoors. We just don't get enough sun and I don't have the light setup for starts. What intensity of fluorescents are you using?

Ah, that makes sense. I use shoplights, plain basic shoplights. Four footers with two tubes. I don't even fart around with the warm white/cool white combos some people recommend. The crucial thing is to blast them. Downstairs, where my light setup is, I have the containers on a shelf which is at most six inches below the lights to start. I then raise the lights by means of the chains which hold them as the seedlings grow.
I built the rack about ten years ago, using a design I saw in Fine Gardening magazine. It was ridiculously simple, and has been a godsend over the years. I built the greenhouse five years ago. It's better suited to starting veggies. My kale, Swiss chard, beets, and spinach all sprouted out there, some of them even in containers simply left out on outdoor racks. I do use heat mats downstairs, for some of the fussier plants like eggplant, oregano, tomatoes, and peppers. Being mediterranean, they want more heat. I've also used the mats out in the greenhouse this spring, especially lately when the nighttime temps get down to the freezing range. The mats take the edge off the cold, although it may only be a matter of keeping the gardener happy!

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