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friday--tour of my plant room

Friday, February 15, 2013

good morning!
well shambles seems to be fine. just wanted to scare the crap out of me i guess. yesterday ended up okay--only managed 15 min. on the elliptical. i had intended to do a second 15 but i was so tired by the day's end that i never got to it. supposed to run today--think it's cold outside so will have to bundle up. hoping to try out my new shoes.
and it looks like its snowing. crap. might have to stay here and do leslie instead. neither the park nor the running track are plowed.
in garden news i have baby onions and baby parsley sprouted. thought i would show you my basement today--as time goes on i will be spending more and more time down there--in the company of my baby plants. first off--here is a pic of my plant room.
not a lot going on in here yet.i happened to have several of these metal restaurant racks and they work beautifully for starting plants. because of the height of the ceiling i had to take the wheels off of them. the lights hang from chains and i maintain the proper distance between the plant tops and the lights by lengthening or shortening the chains. i use "s" hooks or unbent large paper clips to hang the chains from. you can see my watering cans--i don't have water in this room, so i keep the cans full all the time--that way i always have room temp. water for my plants. i don't over fertilize--but i give everyone a weak shot of liquid fertilizer in the water once every 2 weeks or so.
here are the green babies--onion and parsley.

as you can see, the light is very close to the plants. if you have always wanted to start seeds but have failed in the past due to damping off disease--the main way to prevent it is pictured here. the light intensity of "window" light is too weak. the plants stretch to reach the light and in so doing, the cell walls become very thin. this makes them more vulnerable to the fungi and pathogens that live in the soil (even in sterilized seed starting mix some of these organisms can be present) and they get infected right where the plant meets the "ground" and rot off. always keep a light source about 2 inches away from the top of the plants and you will avoid this problem. you may not be able to see it in this photo, but i always dust the top of the soil with chicken grit as soon as i plant the seeds. this prevents fungus gnats (look like fruit flies) from gaining a foothold in the soil. they lay their eggs in soft soil and can become a real nuisance in a greenhouse or plant room. the grit is sharp and stabby and they won't burrow through it to get to the soil. no chemicals--no problem. the issue is taken care of before the plants are even growing. another thing i usually do--just didn't on this side--is put aluminum foil on the plant rack. this reflects some of the heat back up from the lights, and also confuses flying insects of any kind so if i do get someone flying around in there, its harder for them to orient themselves and begin messing with my plant babies.
the next pic is of my propagation box.
there is a heat cable in the bottom and i put my little flats in there to keep warm which helps the seeds germinate faster. it is important to note that not all seeds require heat to germinate--in fact heat will bring about dormancy in certain seeds. usually the seed packet will tell you. if it says "sow seeds after all danger of frost is passed" then the bottom heat from a cable is useful. if the packet says "sow seeds in spring as soon as ground can be worked" then you probably don't want bottom heat. if you don't have a heat cable, the top of your frig is a good warm spot. this cable is ancient--i bet its 20 years old. it has a thermostat in it, and even though the insulation cracked this year i just taped it with electrical tape and it still works just fine. this is a fairly small cable and not too expensive. if you want to start seeds, they are a worthwhile investment. as you can see i use little food storage tubs for my "flats" they have holes drilled in the bottoms and each year i clean and bleach and reuse them. you can see with the parsley and onions, the vented produce boxes work too.they have slits all along the sides that provide drainage, which is critical. the tops are also vented, so they don't work as watering trays, but i just set them under the containers so i don't loose them. i have a bunch of shallow plastic tops for flats that i use for watering trays. when growing seedlings ALWAY use room temp. water and ALWAYS water from the bottom. the containers in the box right now are daylily seeds.
so if you have always wanted to grow seeds indoors, get yourself an inexpensive shop light, a couple flourescent bulbs (one cool one warm--you don't need to buy "grow" lights) and have at it! the one other thing is to be sure and buy SOILLESS SEED STARTING MIX. not potting soil. not topsoil. not dirt of any kind. SOILLESS SEED STARTING MIX. my favorite brand is "pro mix" which the large menards stores now carry in 2 cubic foot bales. miracle gro also has a version of this--it works, but is not my favorite. any garden center will have some type of this product--just be sure it says SOILLESS or SEED STARTING MIX (or both) on the label. wet it down carefully before you put the seeds in it. some of these products take repeated soakings to wet evenly. top water with a sprayer and let it sit--then stir with your finger to be sure it is wet through--repeat if its not. this is why i like pro mix--it wets evenly and quickly. seeds HAVE to hydrate themselves to activate the giberellic acid which begins the process of sprouting. if your soil mix is dry, they won't be able to do it. you can also presoak seeds in plain, room temp. water for 24 hours and then sow them--but you still have to have damp seed starting mix to put them in.
guess thats enough info for today. happy planting!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love your plant nursery!! Those baby onions looked great!! That has to be SO exciting when things start to sprout and grow, especially in the middle of winter!! Thank you for sharing! I know Spring is right around the corner, but there's still snow on the ground from last week, and more snow forecasted for tomorrow!
    1919 days ago
    Thanks for such a great blog. I have been trying to get some plants for a garden for the last several years and can never get the seedlings going. Your blog will help me. I will be getting seeds again from the city's program and hope that this time I can actually grow a garden.
    1919 days ago
    Now I feel like buying seeds was a risky investment! lol I love your setup! I sure hope my kitchen window works okay for the few I'm trying to sow, as I don't have a basement or a green house.
    1920 days ago
    Wow! I'm impressed!
    1920 days ago
    Thanks for the great blog it puts spring in my step. We are to get more snow this weekend. Sick of it only a nusence now. I will be spending tome on sat in my basement sorting out a bunch of stuff I thought I wanted last year, will pack up for community yard sale in June. I will be ahead of it this year by starting so early.
    1920 days ago
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