Started under lights down cellar so far: broccoli rapa, regular stem broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage mix, 2 varieties of zinnia, Lavatera (mallow), rice, 4 tomato varieties, “Minutia” salad greens, chard, kale, 2 lettuce varieties, sunflowers (1 of 3 varieties), 2 varieties peppers
Started in raised beds outside: Oregon Giant snow peas, winter spinach, kale, chard, winter lettuce. The fall-planted garlic is almost 3″ tall in the same beds.
My seedling FAQ
- Those are regular, if eco-friendly, shop lights. I get the brand with the safest disposal protocols, but grow lights are only useful if you like to show off your African violet collection to its best advantage.
- I use a peat-based growing medium that I recycle year to year with very little loss. I allow the used cells to weather the Maine winter in the hoop house and so far haven’t had any disease or pest transmission. For those in milder climes I’d suggest baking or freezing the loose soil to specs that you can find at your Co-op Ext office.
- The average temperature in my unheated 20′ x 30′ cellar during Feb/March is 44 degrees F. It’s probably a tiny bit warmer directly under the lights – I should probably check that some day. The tomato and pepper seedlings take a while to get started, but the cooler temperature keeps the moisture levels constant and discourages rot. Tonight the temperature down there is closer to 39 because I didn’t notice that the north casement window had fallen open. I’ve closed it up and should be able to tell by tomorrow if anything was badly afflicted by the drop.
- The most important thing I’ve learned about starting seeds is to limit how many I plant (with a few exceptions). I’m terrible at editing healthy little green sprouts and that means I have too many to plant in the space available – maybe even too many to care for properly. It’s much easier to plant fewer seeds at the start. The exception would be a crop that needs the whole season to grow (cannot be planted in succession) and should be harvested all at the same time, such as rice.