Wasn’t this winter crazy? The cold weather seemed to go on and on. While the arctic cold fronts lined up for the chance to visit Texas, I stared out at my garden anxious to get started on my spring planting. Very soon impatience won out and I decided to take matters into my own hands.
If spring was going to be late this year, I was determined to be ready when it got here by starting my seeds in the house. It helped that I already had a home-made seed growing rack. The rack shown below can accommodate 4 seedling flats. It’s assembled from PVC and uses inexpensive shop lights hung on adjustable chains.
Indoor seedlings grow best under full spectrum light bulbs with the lights just above the seedlings. I use chains and s hooks to adjust the lights to just the right height. A light timer is real handy to make sure the seedlings get 14 hours of light daily.
This sweet basil seems pretty happy under the grow lights.
A sunny spot, a container, soil and some seeds are all that is needed to get started growing seeds indoors. For me, success has come from trial and error. When something went wrong, I researched the problem and decided how best to solve it. For example, did you know that seedling’s stems are made stronger by air currents? Running a ceiling fan or other low powered fan will help the seedlings develop stronger stems.
Not all seeds will germinate, so I always grow more than I need. This seed starting system can accommodate 72 seedlings at once. The two trays sit in a reservoir which allows the seedlings to wick up water from below. This three piece tray and reservoir system is reusable. If taken care of it will last multiple seasons.
Seed starting mix is a very fine soilless mix specially-suited to starting seeds. I like mixes that contain worm castings. These specialty mixes are very pricey compared to other soil mixes, which is one reason why seeds are started in small cells and then moved up to larger containers later.
When the small cells are transplanted to 4 inch pots, I use grower’s medium. Grower’s medium is a courser soilless mix that is generally either peat based or coir based. The mix I’m using contains mycorrhizae bacteria which assist plant roots in taking up nutrients.
Grower’s mix does not usually contain a fertilizer, so it is up to the grower to decide how to fertilize the plants. I like to water with a diluted liquid fertilizer, so the plants get a steady supply of food.
With a little luck, the seedlings will be healthy like the okra and cucumbers shown below.
With a little more luck, there will be an abundance of seedlings.
Like I was saying earlier… It was a long winter.
These seedlings are available for purchase through the Yard to Market Online Store. I hope you’ll visit us there soon.