Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grow Lights

Seedlings are up.  And now they need lots of light.  A sunny window would do, but there are lots of trees around here.  So off to Home Depot.  I picked up a standard fluorescent light fixture, and one warm bulb, and one cool bulb and set it up on some bricks to suspend it above the plants.

The tall seedlings in the picture are radishes and beans.  Not sure how well radishes will do starting inside.  I'm not sure how well any of this will do, in fact.
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Oh No!

 Here's a little seedling of something poking up.  What's that stuff at the base?  In my reading I heard about "damping off," a fungus that attacks little seedlings.  This looked like mold to me.  Were all of my seedlings going to succumb to mold?  Looking closer, it seemed to be more like tiny hairs on the root than mold.  Phew.
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Sunday, March 18, 2012


 I decided to start seeds inside.  A plant costs a few dollars; a packet of seeds costs about a dollar for a few hundred seeds.  So I bought packets of all of the vegetables I want to try to grow this year: tomatoes, carrots, radishes, basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, lettuce, beans.  I'd also like to try cucumbers.

How do you start a seed growing?  Germination.  From what I can tell, if you put a seed in a moist, dark location at a reasonable temperature, it should germinate.  The picture at the left is a Jiffy germinating kit.  There are 72 individual cells, and it comes with 72 little compressed pellets of peat.  You add some water to each cell and the peat expands.  Stick a seed or a few seeds into each cell at the proper depth, add some water to the bottom, cover, and wait.

Rule of thumb seems to be -- bury the seed 3-4 times the size of the seed. 

The problem with this kit is that the seeds all germinate at different times, and once the seed has germinated you are supposed to remove the cover.  When a few different types of plants had germinated I removed the cover and the rest seemed to do OK.

Here's a bit about germination:
Washington State University extension
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Starting the Farm, 2012

For the past few years I've tried to grow various vegetables around my apartments.  Success has been variable.  Only one year of the past 7 did I manage to get any tomatoes; this was on a south facing fire escape.  Herbs have been better.  This year I am taking the project more seriously.  I have put together two small (4 foot by 4 foot) raised beds on the south side of my house.  I collected some different seeds and am starting seedlings in March; hopefully this summer we will have lots of delicious fresh vegetables.