Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Starting seeds under lights

Have you ever tried to grow seeds indoors on a windowsill? Then you know how tricky this is and after all the effort you end up with leggy specimens you can't use. Why not try growing them under lights. It is so easy once you have it all set up and you do not need fancy lights, just some shop lights from the local hardware store are fine. Suspend the lights on chains so you can adjust the height as the seedlings grow, and keep them about 2" - 4" above the top of the seedlings. Add an automatic timer set to come on for 14 -16 hours a day.

To start the seedlings I use:
  • organic seed starting mix from a local hardware store.
  • containers with drainage holes - this can be anything from egg cartons, yogurt pots, cottage cheese tubs, or the box you bring home your surplus dinner (as I have used in the photo)
  • food storage bags to enclose the pot once you have set the seeds.
  • warming cable or mat, or if like me you can keep the unit indoors it is probably warm enough without needing any supplemental warmth. If you grow them in the basement you will need to use a heat mat.
  • Fish emulsion or organic fertilizer used at half strength once the seedlings emerge.
It is important to fill your container with premoistened mix. Use warm water and do not pack the sowing mix down in the container but allow it to remain loose. Sow the seeds twice as deep as their diameter and lightly cover with a layer of vermiculite. I mist the top to moisten before enclosing in a bag . Once the seedlings emerge remove the plastic bag, lower the temperature if they have been getting bottom heat, and keep them moist by misting with a spray bottle or watering from a tray underneath. Do not allow them to sit in water for too long. You may now start to feed them with half strength fertilizer every 10 days.

When two sets of true leaves appear you will need to carefully transplant the seedlings to a larger pot or seed flat.
This may all sound like a lot of work but isn't it worth it to grow your vegetables and flowers from seed?  So many more choices available than from the local nursery. I love it, but then I am a bit of an addict when it comes to green things.......

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