Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seed starting explained

I thought I would post some pictures of my seed starting set up. I am using the laundry room in my parents house for a crowded and uncomfortable seed starting space.  I fill the seed trays with growing mix, press thousands of seeds into the soil, and balance them precariously on a washing machine until I get them into their warm home. I have converted a spare bedroom into a growing room for the plants to get them started during the cold, gray Syracuse Spring. Here are some fluorescent lights hanging from shelves, about 1-2 inches above the little seedlings.

 With plastic covering the south facing window, the room stays between 70-90 degrees. A cozy little spot for the newest additions to Daily Harvest Farm. Although this is working, I cringe when I see these little seedlings stretch for the light given off by the fluorescent when all they really want is sunlight. They would be much bigger and a lot more healthier if grown from sunlight. I also think these plants grown under unnatural light and protected from the wind do not become mature plants that are as strong or abundant than they would be if grown outside. However, this is Central New York, so we will keep starting our seeds until the sun shines bright and warm.

As soon as the weather turn a bit warmer, to stay above freezing at night, we will transfer the seedlings into our small propagation greenhouse. We built this greenhouse from PVC pipe and covered it with 4mil greenhouse film for maximum light penetration. On a sunny day, temperatures can jump up to 100 degrees very quickly inside, but without supplemental heating it can reach freezing overnight. For the health and vigor of the pants, I will be relieved once they can be in the greenhouse full time. But I will act like a hovering parent (keeping my eye on the temperature, opening the vents when the sun is out, closing the vents if it hides behind a cloud) to assure everything is perfect. It's a delicate dance during the Spring, and such a nice, quiet warm up to summer.

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