Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let's talk dirt

  Hmm, yep – the good stuff, soiless mix. Most big box stores carry it. I never use garden dirt as it carries too many things that will destroy your seedlings.
     Yesterday, hubby and I opened our coffee filters to find tons of germinated seeds. The bigger seeds (squash, zinnias, lupine) are easy to pick up individually and place in the pots. Smaller ones -like tomatoes and the even tinier snapdragon seeds had to be picked out with tweezers. Easily done. Top with just a dusting of mix and cover with the clear plastic dome lids to keep in the moisture until most everything pops up. Shouldn’t take more than a couple of days.

Since running the greenhouse is cost prohibitive with the record low temps we’re having, we decided to start inside. Using one inch pvc pipe and fittings, we put together the frame to fit on the hobby table. Shop lights using full spectrum lights (not the expensive grow lights) work just fine.
     I leave the lights on about 14 hours a day. Adjust them so they’re sitting several inches about your leaves. If you have a surge protector strip allowing you to plug in several lights at a time – it’s easier to turn them on/off. Just unplug your strip.
     As far as watering, I always water from the bottom. In other words, the plastic pots sit in flats. Some flats have holes for drainage, others don’t. For now – since I’m inside and don’t want the drainage all over my floor, I use the flats without holes.
 Obviously your pots should always have holes. The difference between too much watering and too little = drainage. That said, lift up on one corner of your pots, mine has 72 per flat, and using a large cup, pour tepid water in the flat. Let them sit until the pots soak up enough water, the top of the mix glistens with moisture. It should only take about fifteen to twenty minutes.       
     Pour out the excess water, (I use a five gallon bucket in the sink).  Replace the dome lids and sit the flats back under the lights. Always water in the morning.

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