It depends on what you are planning to grow as to how soon to start them. Slow growing vegetables (and some that can be planted outside earlier in the season) may need to be started up to 14 weeks before the last expected spring frost, while quicker ones can be planted as little as 3 weeks before that. I usually start hot peppers 12 weeks before, eggplant and sweet peppers at 10 weeks, tomatoes at 8 weeks. When the packets recommend 6 to 8 weeks before, I prefer to start them at 8 weeks instead of 6. I posted a list of the start times for many commonly grown veggies under the Gardening Advice forum under "gardening tip of the week", in case you want to check that out.
Hrm...worth a try. It's about experimentation anyway!
I asked our fix-it (he has a much loftier title) man at work and he suggested 'construction grade poly sheeting at 6 mill. It was interesting, too, cos he took out all these plastic sheets and a measuring device (for tiny thickness, wish I'd asked what it's called!).
You can buy it at feed mills (or order there) or from a place like Uline (online). It runs $100 for 20' x 100' but that would set you up (unless you have something better, cheaper, already in mind).
We do that mostly! If they don't come up? Plant again.
I do the wee starts indoors sometimes. It's nice to get that jump on the growing season. One of my adopted grandmothers as a kid had this sort of portable greenhouse. It was not too heavy but not light! It maybe stood 18" off the ground and covered at least 6' by 8'. I'd help her put it out over 1st rotation stuff (spinach, radishes, lettuces, onions, etc.). Then when frost was out, we'd uncover it. She'd sometimes transplant from that area to her lower garden as well.
We don't do this...use the floor near a SW facing window. There's a great comment below it for now with more info. I'll paste it here in case it 'migrates' later!
This is sort of misleading. You don't need light until the seeds have germinated and began to sprout. You need moisture and warmth for that, and that can easily be had by wetting the soil you're seeding in, and then covering the tray with plastic wrap. Give that a week or so in a warm spot (generally in a window since you get the warmth of the sun) and THEN you start putting lights on it.
I would do an intermediate step as well, once they outgrow their seeding tray, take them out, split them up carefully (because you've got more than 1 seed per cell) and plant them individually in a solo cup or other similarly sized container. Keep those indoors until they're a bit more hearty, and then once your final frost passes, plant them outdoors.
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