As I mentioned in a former post, we are going to have a plant sale. The kids will save the money earned to use on our family camping trip this summer. We’re going to utilize our greenhouse that we received for free and turn it into a profit center. But if you have ever done seeds before, there is an investment in trays, pots, peat, seeds and lighting. We bought the seeds and the trays, but had a cube of peat from a yard sale. Now for the pots. We determined that we could start a few hundred seedlings in the space we have, so to purchase pots was not in the budget. We bought one of these pot makers and made them for our sale. This way the customers can easily carry their seedlings away with them.
Our lighting is taken care of by the greenhouse but in the past we made a lighting center in our house for this purpose. Similar to the one at the right but far more economical. I’ll be really honest! The key is light, light and more light.
First, find long metal fluorescent ceiling fixtures, I got mine at a thrift store, but even if you buy them from a hardware store they are really inexpensive. The key is in the bulbs you buy, you need Grolux type bulbs in place of regular fluorescent tubes. These are definitely not inexpensive, but they last for many seasons.
Depending on the number of things you are growing, will determine on how many fixtures you will need. These need to be mounted to your ceiling with a pulley system. (I’m not kidding.) Plant your seeds in the little peat pots, newspaper pots like in the picture or in flats of starter soil. Remember, do not plant all of your seeds, unless you have an enormous garden, they will take over before you can get them outside. Mark them well. Lower the light fixture down over the plantings at about two inches above the trays. They will sprout on about 7-14 days. Keep them moist with a spray bottle. As the seedlings climb toward the light, you will raise the lights in tiny increments.
If you have done seeds in the past and they got all spindly and pale, this is why: Simply not enough DIRECT light. It seems like your windows are enough but not to a seed or seedling. If you want strong stalks and well producing plants, this method is best. It seems like a hassle but if you have an area that will serve as your green house, you will get healthy seedlings. I did this for years, and gave it up only because at one point we had over a thousand seedlings and they simply took over before it was warm enough to take them out. But now we have a greenhouse, a dream come true! I still start many things from seed that can be done in the ground early enough:
cucumbers, melons, and squash (these really do not like being handled as seedlings and do not usually transplant well if you start them indoors.)
potatoes (from seed potatoes)
onions (seed onions)
greens (not Chard, I buy the plants)
nasturtium (for salads)
corn (not until the temp is above 80)