As promised, I’m keeping you all up to date on the progress of the garden this year. About two weeks ago I planted several varieties of seeds in starter pots and got them settled under the grow light in the spare bathroom. You can check out this post to read more about it. Within a week nearly all of the seeds had begun to sprout. I was very happy with the high germination rate! I think I owe my success so far to the fact that I used high quality seed starting mix, kept the mix evenly moist, and had the trays in a room that maintained a fairly steady temperature. Most seeds sprout best between 65 and 75 degrees, which is why starting them indoors seems to work better than starting them outside, or even in the greenhouse. Temps outside and in the greenhouse can vary widely throughout the day and depending on the weather.
Once all my tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers sprouted I did start taking them on “field trips” to get some extra sun out in the greenhouse during the day while it was warm. Grow lights are nice, but they just don’t have the solar power of the sun itself! I have the lights on a timer so they’re on during the late afternoon and through the night. This allows the plants to actually get nearly 24 hours of sunlight between the greenhouse and the grow lights. Plus the lights warm the bathroom up a little bit during the night when it would normally be a bit cooler. I’m trying to do everything I can to make this gardening season the most successful yet. Between Sal and I we have MANY years of gardening experience, and we’re constantly learning new things.
This is a shot of the peppers ready to be taken out to the greenhouse. I’ve got these handy trays to transport the plants in, then once in the greenhouse I’ve got plastic trays to set the different varieties in and I can then add a few inches of water to the trays and water the pots from the bottom. I check on the plants occasionally during the day to make sure they haven’t dried out, which can happen pretty quick in the greenhouse. Then about 4:00 or 5:00, when it starts to cool down a bit and the grow lights have kicked on I pack up all the little pots, careful to keep the different varieties together, and bring them back into the house. I also have a small fan blowing on them lightly for a few hours a day. The movement helps strengthen the stems so they’ll be able to withstand conditions outdoors better. Once the plants get at least two sets of true leaves I hope to be able to keep them out in the greenhouse full time and start another batch of seeds (different plants) inside. Of course that will also depend on the night time temps. If the young plants get too cold growth will slow or stop. Temps have been really nice for the last few weeks though, with highs around 70 and lows around 40 (and it’s only the middle of February!).
All in all I’m very happy with the progress so far and am really looking forward to a productive season. While this is all a lot of fun for me, it’s also the main source for all of our vegetables, so it’s pretty important that we get a good harvest. We’re mainly vegetarians, eating meat just once or twice a week, so we need to grow lots of healthy and nutritious veggies!
Until next time, happy gardening! And as always, please feel free to leave me a comment. I’m always interested to hear ideas from others, or answer any gardening questions I can. :)