12 March 2013

Grow Op

So many seeds to choose from...

A couple of weeks ago I started this year's batch of seeds. It's a little early but in the past I've started them when the packages say to and end up transplanting sad little midget plants into the garden. So this year I've decided to do things differently.

These are the seeds I ended up choosing to go with. It looks like a lot but quite a few are old and I don't have high hopes of them actually germinating. And yet I can't just throw them away.

I actually got seed-starting mix instead of potting soil.

I don't like fussing with fiddly individual seeding containers. So this year I planted everything in clean take-out containers (recycling!) and kept notes of what went where.

Highly scientific.
Some seeds need soaking overnight before you plant them, including lupines

It's always good to have a supervisor on hand to check your work.

Gentle bottom heat is ideal for seeds, as it helps them germinate. I found a couple of boards and placed them on one of our radiators, then put the seeds on those. The containers steamed up right away and I had my first seedlings only a couple of days later.

One of the boards is a little wide and I was worried it would tip over. Luckily it turns out the wing on a fairy statue I have is the perfect height and size for bracing the board :)

Fairy statues--not just pretty faces.

I've been watering my seedlings with chamomile tea (cold, of course) for a couple of years now. It really does a good job of preventing fungal infections (such as verticillium wilt)

I finally invested in grow lights (sunlight is just too inconsistent--my seedlings always end up leggy). The lights are actually desk lamps with grow bulbs in them. They might not be conventional grow lights but I like them because we can use the lamps elsewhere after the seedlings are grown.

The seedlings seem pretty happy with the lights so far.

The fun thing about the grow lights is they cast a distinctive blue glow at night that permeates the first floor of the house and will probably have the neighbours calling the police before long.

So far my seedlings include: 'Snow White' and 'Patio' tomatoes, 'Candy Stripe' zinnias, a lone hollyhock (a labelling mishap has left me unsure what variety), and a boatload of sweet basil. Hopefully there will be more soon.

My seed starting is done for now. The next batch are going directly outside sometime around the end of the month.

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