Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 2, 2008

Well, I'm counting down the days until I can get my dirt, especially on a sunny weekend. I can't say I'm quite as excited about it now as I was a few days ago because my seedlings aren't doing so well.  They're not wilting, but they're not growing either.  They've pretty much stopped in this position.


Despite my desperate attempts at getting them to grow with a heating pad set on low, nothing. However, I did find out that moving them back inside wouldn't hurt them, so they're now parked in the nursery.  Three pretty little cool whip containers all in a row.

Unfortunately I found out that our Western Washington sunlight this time of year isn't strong enough to grow seedlings. Oh and on a lesser note, I shouldn't leave standing water in the trays, it apparently can cause root rot and starve the roots of oxygen (though I would think airflow around the vermiculite from the top would help).  Moral of this day, starting seeds indoors is a bit more difficult than I initially thought.  Hehe I figured it would be.

So, I guess now I have to contemplate grow lights.  I hadn't planned on starting up an elaborate seedling setup my first year.  Heck, I'm not even sure I will continue starting my seeds indoors.  This is just an experiment.  Most veggies we eat can be started from seed outdoors (I think). I'm doing this indoor starting as an experiment and for experience.  Yet another problem to solve.  Hehe, I think gardening is a problem solver's dream.  This experience has been one minor problem to solve after another.  Don't worry though, I'll work out most of the problems (with the help of many others), so you hopefully won't have to.  That's the hope anyway.

So I've spent about an hour going through the GardenWeb FAQ for Growing from Seeds and the forum.  I wonder if I'll have any success without setting up an elaborate lighting system somewhere in my house. My family will definitely think I've gone insane then.

On a lighter note (pun intended), I figured out the only spot for good sized potato containers is behind my corn bed.  I was out there in the sun with a tape measurer and found I have over 5 feet currently between the back of corn bed and the fence with the gate.  I can fit two Build-As-You-Grow containers in that space if I don't move the fence line.  It would just mean I can't park against the garage, which I've never been able to do.  Besides, it's less work if I don't have to move the fence, and I've got tons of projects this year already.

Well, after spending the day intermittently with the family and on the web checking out solutions for my poor seedlings, I decided to check out a lighting system for them.  My garage is too cold and I don't particularly want to build a Chicken Tractor-like mini-green house with a space heater out there.  So I wandered around the house and found a 35' by 12' cavity in my wall shelving unit above the cold-air return for my furnace.  It's inside so it's 70 degrees and I should be able to fit one or two fixtures in there on chains from the top to a spare shelf that should basically fit the cavity.  According to the FAQ on GardenWeb for fluorescent lights, going one warm and one cool bulb is the best way to get both red and blue spectrum light without spending too much for "grow lights." 

I'm heading out to check out Lowes to see what my options are for lighting.  Well, that was a short trip. My wife convinced me to wait until the kids went to bed and by the time we got the jumpy kids to bed and I got there, it was 9 and they closed.  Oh yeah, they aren't 24 hours anymore.  I called my Dad and he said they sell 30 inch fixtures so I should be good in that space.


  1. Hi Rich -- I think you need to go ahead and pull those seedlings up and re-pot them into some small pots. That will probably get them to going. They have used up all the stored energy from the seeds and now they probably need some compost :-)

    Glad you found a spot for your potatoes! I can't wait to see how they do this year using this cool method.


  2. Hi there, followed your blog here from the SFG forum, thanks for doing this. It's so interesting to see how everyone else does their gardening. I myself have never had much luck with seedlings but this year I am determined to get it right! I can't stand spending all the money on plants when I know I should be able to grow them myself. I've got a light kit that I'm trying out this year, nothing fancy, a 4 foot fluorescent light fixture with "sunshine" bulbs, supposed to be good for areas that need more sunlight, I'll let you know how that goes, I just ordered my seeds today so hopefully by this time next week I'll have them in some dirt! Also, I read in an earlier blog that you watched the GardenGirl videos, she is dangerous, makes me think I want chickens!! lol She is my new personal hero!

  3. Hi again. Reading through these to see how it's going.

    I've not tried in starting vermiculite yet since I don't have any. But Judy is probably right about moving em. Mine grow pretty well when I start them in small containers of potting soil. I usually just over seed a bit and then just keep the best ones.

    As far as grow lights go, if you've not gone on a spending spree yet, you might just try some regular CFL's. This is what I did last year. I just took a table lamp, took off the lamp shade and laid it on it's side over a box full of seedlings. They seemed to like it a lot. This was done with my tomato seedlings last year and they did pretty once I transplanted them as well.

    I think tomatoes were all I started last year, but this year I'm doing several tomatoes, basil and peppers. I'm also going to try out starting some cantaloupe. Last year I started the basil outside and it didn't grow well. The previous year we started them inside and they did great so it's back to the old way. Anyway it's my first time with peppers and cantaloupe so this should be interesting.

  4. [...] it now as I was a few days ago because my seedlings aren??