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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Gentlemen, start your seedlings!

January is finally here!  Spring planting sneaks up on you fast.  The last fear of frost is pretty much gone around here April 1st.  Working 8-12 weeks back from that date puts us at, gulp, last week!  I'm already behind schedule!!  According to my journal, this is when i need to be starting seedlings for Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Okra, Artichoke, Leeks, and Celeriac.
Last year I was trying out the milk jug greenhouses, which seemed to work, but direct seeded plants in April quickly overtook the seedlings.
I had planned on replacing my greenhouse (again) last fall but you only get done what you get done :-)
Plan b is as follows:
  I purchased several of the Jiffy 72 cell greenhouses from Walmart at $8 each (even better priced than Amazon).  These have always worked well for me as a seedling starter.  That's if you can't get the seedlings transplanted when they grow too large for the space that you end up with weak, spindly seedlings.
  I cleared off a middle shelf  (like this) in my garage and rigged up two 48" fluorescent shop lights above the middle shelf.
  These lights get plugged into a timer left over from the Christmas lights so they click on at 6am and off again at 10pm.
  Finally, under the seedling trays goes a warming mat.  Something like this would be ideal.  In my setup I reused a Brew Belt that's designed to keep a glass carboy at 70F.  Just anything to help keep the temperature up.
  3/20/2014 update - I had to fabricate a 1/4" raised platform for the brew belt as it was getting hot enough to melt my plastic trays and dried out the peat pods directly above it.  Sometimes it pays to buy equipment designed for your project :)


Here we have the starts of
- Black Hungarian Jalepeno
- Black Beauty Eggplant
- Celeriac Root
- Pasilla Bajio Pepper
- Purple Beauty Pepper
- Red Marconi Pepper
- Edirne Purple Eggplant
- Black Brandywine Tomato
- Purple Tomatillo
- Chile Ancho Pepper
- Orange Sunset Pepper
- Jing Orange Okra
- Tomato Gypsy
- Amish Paste Tomato
- Dad's Sunset Tomato
- Purple of Romagna Artichoke
- Bleu De Solaise Leeks