Sunday, March 28

Seed Starting Setup...

Since I've gotten a few questions about it, here are some new photos of the seed-starting setup in the corner of my basement. Nothing spectacular here, just some industrial shelving, a scratch-and-dent formica countertop, commercial heating mat with thermostat, fluorescent light fixtures, and seed flats. Out of the photo is a powerstrip with integral timer for the lights. I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: I don't buy the fancy grow lights, rather, I put one 'cool' bulb and one 'warm' bulb into the fixture, and the plants seem to like it well enough. Sure, fancy grow lights have more of the spectrum, but this is just a family garden, it isn't my source of income.
In the next photo, you can see the sprouting Petunia seeds - it looks like I'm 12 for 12 if you look closely. Hopefully, they will all survive! The fiber pots off to the side are my tomato and pepper plant starts - I've started 5 paste tomatoes, 3 jelly bean, 5 beefsteak and 5 bell peppers. I should start more peppers this week if I have the time.

Sunday, March 14

Make way for mid-March

Progress on the garden! It was a gorgeous early spring day today, 55°F and sunny, with a nice northeasterly wind to dry off the ground. Spent an hour in the garden, weeding out the tree nursery bed and turning over 6 feet of the planting beds by hand. The soil is damp but not wet (not quite dry enough to drive the tiller in there, but I can certainly turn over a few beds for the early spring vegetables. I hope to get more turned this week and some hard-raking in to prepare the beds for the first crops.

Those seed tapes I spent so much time on this winter? Yep, those will be going in quickly. I need to make more as I finally picked up carrot seeds.

I've started the petunia seeds - a dozen or so this year. Hopefully I'll have success again.

Tomorrow will bring new photos of my starting bench, this year's additions are a heat mat thermostat with digital temperature gauge and a small fan to help combat damping-off. Thus far, all the herb seeds are merrily germinating, with a few growing well.

Chives are well represented in the herbs this season, they will take the place of my border surrounding the vegetable garden, at least on the north side of the border. The thought is that chives are very useful and perennial. As an added bonus, they are not frequently eaten by rodents or deer, so they should survive where other plants have become some critter's lunch. The flowerbed next to the garden that never has really taken off will become a herb garden of sorts, a place for my perennial herbs in full sun and exposed to some reasonable amount of irrigation.

Root view box update - you can see the roots that I've cut the tops off for thinning. All the seedlings have true leaves now, and the radishes look nice and healthy. Even at this young age, the beets are bright red and the radishes are pink. Looking at this photo, I guess we need to water the box again - things are starting to look a bit dry in there. I'm guessing that the roots are going to have a flat side as they grow into the window, but otherwise will still be round


Monday, March 8

Coconut Coir - again

I've had a few extra days now to investigate the coconut coir bricks - they expand much less graphically than the pellets. One brick and about 4 quarts of water fills half a six gallon pickle bucket. I let them expand overnight and used a hand cultivator to break up any remaining clumps of coir. Everything seems peachy.

As for the germination of seeds in the coir - no problems there, I have twenty-two of twenty-four garlic chives sprouted and happy. Basil sprouted fine, even one rosemary seed has germinated already (unless it was a basil seed that launched an invasion of the rosemary pots). Photos will follow, but thus far everything seems just fine with the coconut coir in place of my previous favorite peat moss.