Last year was our first gardening season in this house and I wasn't sure what to expect in the yard so I didn't bother starting any seeds indoors. This year though I know what plants are in the yard and what beds are available so I decided to drag out my seed equipment and dive in.
The first issue was sorting out my equipment. My heat mat had died in the cross country move and I also sold my lighting fixture back in British Columbia. The first thing I did was purchase a 20 x 20 inch heating mat from Lee Valley and a lighting fixture was put together by hubby. Two fluorescent plant lights were purchased at the hardware store along with various wires and a music stand. I'm not sure about the particulars but I'm thrilled with the results. The light is attached to a music stand that moves up and down so I can adjust the light as the plants grow. Very cool.
|Looking up at the light fixture|
With those pieces in place I was able to pull my self watering seed tray out of a box and set it up. The deep tray is filled with water and sits on top of the heat mat. A second plastic tray sits overtop the water and holds a watering mat which soaks up the warm water transporting it to the small propators sitting on top. The idea is that there is a vast quantity of warm water always being provided to your seeds and less chance of them drying out and expiring. I'm not really doing justice to the mechanics of it here but it really is a marvelous invention.
This is a photo of the whole contraption below.
The big piece of white cardboard was a genius idea from Janet at Plantaliscious. She talked about using a light coloured board to reflect light and make sure your seedlings grow straight and strong. Well just as I was thinking of seedlings what should show up in the recycling at work. Somebody was doing a presentation and when it was over they left this great big, pre-folded board just for me to find! The world works in mysterious ways. Thus far it seems to be doing the trick, instead of lighting up the whole room the light hits the board and is reflected back at the seedlings. Judging from my amaranthus (Love Lies Bleeding) seedlings below I'd say it's working well.
I admit I didn't look at the packages too closely before planting. Bad choice. The amaranthus germinated in 2 days and they're now an inch tall. They will be gigantic before I can plant them out. Should have waited a few more weeks. There's nothing like learning through trial and error. The basil sprouted just a day or two after the amaranthus but has yet to reach any great heights. Hopefully they will take it slow but I probably should have waited a little longer to plant these as well.
Onions, tomatoes and mystery seeds from MIL (Dianthus?) have also been planted. A few heirloom pink tomatoes have begun to sprout but everyone else is taking their time to join the party. In the coming weeks I will plant more flower seeds and bring in the currants that I cold stratified outdoors and see if I can't bring them to life. I think starting plants from seeds might possibly be my favourite aspect of gardening. I'm always amazed at how something so tiny with a little water and warmth catches hold of life and turns into a plant. Having a hand in that process is incredibly amazing and it's a thrill each year to look at a plant that I started from seed.