It’s too cold to be outside this weekend, so I’m vegetable gardening indoors. The light system is up and running, and I have all the supplies ready and waiting. I have all the seeds I plan on growing (except for the rosemary that I should have started two weeks ago), so the magic starts now!.
So this is my dining room light system set up. Yes, it is taller than needed for plants (the lights can be raised to 4 feet), but after seed starting season is over it becomes my craft table. It gets taken down briefly for the holiday dinners, then back up again for seeding time.
Today I am starting my “cool weather” crops: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and leeks. These are all plants that thrive in cooler weather, and will even survive light frosts. One of the advantages of being able to plant early, is that there are very few insects to attack them! They will be ready to harvest when it’s time to plant everything else, so I think of them as bonus crops! If the weather person calls for freezing temperatures or a hard frost after I plant them out, I will either drape a sheet over them or make a tent over them with heavy plastic sheeting. The other good thing about cool weather crops is that you can start the seeds again in summer to transplant out into the garden in early fall for another harvest. Just plant them where you have pulled out something else that was done producing.
You can see above that I used a Pro-Hex seed starting domed tray. The planting cells came as two 6×6 cell units. I easily cut these with scissors into four 3×3 cell units and six 2×3 cell units. The smaller planting units are easier to handle and easier to keep seed varieties separated. I need 8 of each plant, so I planted 9 cells of each. I always plant an extra or two just in case. I also planted 2 seeds per cell. If both seeds sprout, then after they are an inch or two tall, I snip off the smaller one at soil level. Don’t pull them out, as you can damage the roots of the one you want to keep. Just remember to take the covers off after the seeds sprout, keep them lightly watered from the base not from the top, and they will need to go into slightly larger containers after they get their first true set of leaves (called potting up). Labels are very important! Some plants look nearly identical and are easy to mix up. Here, I labeled each unit, and after potting up I will label each seedling individually.
I also planted some of my herbs as they can take a while to grow. For those I used the clamshells that baked goods came in. You just have to wash them thoroughly to remove any possible oils or food residue (it can become moldy if you don’t). I love them! They are like little greenhouses! There are also drain holes cut in the bottom…I still have to put these on a tray. After they all sprout, I cut holes in the top for ventilation and then remove the covers completely after they get a bit bigger, then eventually they get transplanted into their own little pots.
I still have to plant the leeks. The seeds can be directly sown into the garden, but, I’m starting them now to get a head start as they take over 100 days to mature. I’m planning to set out another crop in August for a late fall/early winter harvest, too.
I’m just hoping that April doesn’t start out like it did last year…
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