Monday, April 6, 2015
Succession planting in the seed-starting room
This is what my seed-starting situation looks like at the moment. Let me explain why.
I'm sure some people have the perfect amount of space for all the seed-starting they want to do, and someday I will, but today is not that day. I have two places I can start seeds - well, actually, just about all the seeds get started in my upstairs furnace/laundry room:
where there is an adjustable hanging set of two shop lights, and enough space to put out some heat mats and fool around with potting soil. This photo was taken a month ago when my brassicas were still inside. So was this one:
My other seedling-nurturing space is a three-foot-wide shelving unit in the bedroom of the son who's away at college, with various two-foot and four-foot shop lights. (The top ones, by the way, are white LED shop lights, which have been doing a splendid job providing light for the young seedlings. I wouldn't try to raise plants to maturity under them - not nearly a wide enough spectrum - but they do fine for babies and uses less energy.)
And then I have two cold frames out on my driveway, where I can shelter plants that are ready to brave the cold but still need some hardening off before they are planted in the garden. In previous springs, before I had the cold frames, there would always be a crisis point where I had to move the early plants, mostly young brassicas, outside and keep them out there despite the chilly temperatures, with what protection I could give them, because the indoor space was taken up with new seedlings - peppers, tomatoes, and other warm-season plants that needed a head start inside. (And, as I discovered two years ago, the worst thing you can do is bring plants back inside after they've been out during a warm period - this is how I introduced aphids to my seed-starting room. Disaster.)
This year I decided to make a plan, so I'd never have too many seedlings to fit in the available space. So far it's been working! The snow melted just in time to put the many many cabbages I enthusiastically started in February out in the cold frames, and they got planted out in time to put the other brassicas in there, and now my third set of brassicas (why do I do this, why?) is in the cold frames while the inside space is taken up with warm-season seedlings and starts. I waited to seed tomatoes until last weekend, having started the peppers a couple of weeks before, and the only minor crisis I'm suffering at the moment is avoiding using the shelves in the kid's room for a few days, while he's home for Easter break. Newly emerged seedlings will find ample space in there tonight.
So why the giant tomatoes in the top photo, with the lights askew and higher than the ideal two inches above the little pepper plants? Well, somehow when I was planting peppers I picked up the plain envelope with "Sweet Mojo" written on it by a friend who gave me the seeds, and thought that was a pepper instead of a tomato, and didn't notice the difference in the seeds as I planted them. So I have three huge ahead-of-schedule Sweet Mojos that need to move into the other room, lights hiked as high as possible above them, ASAP. All my other tomatoes are half an inch high with their seed leaves only, which is exactly in keeping with the plan.