Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8, 2009 Wrap-up

Today was a full day.  Without the kids and having taken Nyquil last night, I overslept.  No surprise there.  Thankfully, when I called my father I found that my brother had just woke up an hour after we were supposed to start demo work, so at least we carpooled, saving the environment one car ride at a time...  It also meant that we got a great chance to talk gardening, seed starting, soil blocks and the like.  We also hit Home Depot on the way home (nothing there), and then Sky Nursery.  I kinda hate going there because it seems they've added $1 to $2 to each item to help pay for their substatnial remodel.

Still, they are a nursery, so they had a much bigger selection.  Unfortunately, they had a very limited seleciton of seed trays.  I had expected to see Plantel quality down to flimsy throw-aways.  Instead the best they had was slightly thicker throw-aways and the cheap things (to which they added $1 to Home Depot's price).  Wanting to be done with it, I settled on the not-so-flimsy ones.  They're not quite the right size, but I'll make do.  Here's a picture of them lined up under my light system.

Oh, I couldn't get the bow out of the 3/4 inch plywood, so I just turned it over.  It works better that way I think. Besides, maybe gravity will take some of the bow out over time. /shrug  As for the trays, they're too thin and too long, if that makes sense.  You see, they're 10 by 20.  My lights span about 15 inches to get full light coverage.  That means the edges of the trays get poor light.  Not sure I can live with that, but hey, they were $3.50 each. 

While I was typing this, I got an idea to check out how close together I could get the lights.  Sure enough, I can get them so close that they are about 10 inches across.  So in the interim, while I've got little to start, I will change it out so I only use two of the four trays and get the most light possible to the plants on them. 

Another thought I had was that some people bolt the two lights together, so they move as one and are great for focusing the light.  I think I'll leave them separate.  That way, I can leave one high for tomatoes and the other one low for cole crops.  Sound good huh?

Well, on the way home from my brother's, I head back to my local True Value.  It's a half mile from the house, so it's convenient.  Notice that I was just there yesterday, but I forgot to ask about timers.  Sure enough, they have them, and they were on sale!  Bonus, hehe.

So, you know what that means?  I'm FINALLY done with my light setup.  The timer's set for 12 hours of light during roughly daylight hours (6-6), and the trays are all ready to go.  The only thing I don't have is a soil block maker. (John, thank you so much for your offer to make me one, I am seriously considering it.)

I talked to my brother about block makers and we may go in on a 2" 4 block maker.  He's seen the videos on them as well.  However, he wants a whole set-up for it, with a table to mix and make the blocks on.  I thought I have a board that fits nicely between two of my beds.  I could mix it in a 5 gallon bucket and dump it on the table, then make the blocks.  The left over could be brushed into the beds, no biggie.  Guess to make my brother happy I'll have to add three sides to the table.  Kinda cuts down on the multi-purpose nature of it, but we'll see.  I'm working on my taxes right now and if I get back anything like what I got back last year, I'll splurge on a soil block maker and some new dress shoes (mine have holes in the soles, hehe).  Yep, I'm being frugal to a fault right now.  My saying has always been don't worry about things you can't control, but if you can control it, do something about it... I can do something to prepare for the worst!  I'd thought my birthday is coming up and now I'd have something I wanted for it, but it's in March which is way too late to be starting seeds indoors, hehe.

Ok, back to my day.  When I got home I was so excited.  I had everything ready to go to plant seeds.  So I headed out to the garage and set up everything for planting my tomato seeds.  Unfortunately when I got my seeds out, I couldn't find Cynthia's Gardener's Delight seeds she sent me.  I'm sure they're here somewhere, but I couldn't find them.  Fortunately, when she sent me my Red Horizon from our joint Tomatofest order, she also graciously sent me samples of all the ones she bought!  So instead of Gardener's Delight, I planted Idli, which is a yellow, extra sweet, extra early cherry tomato, so it should be good for my area.  I'm not sure if it's odd to have two yellow cherry tomatoes, but maybe, just maybe, I'll get my eldest to try them since they're yellow (his favorite color).

Notice that I labeled each so that I could easily peel off the sticker to move to the next container as I pot up the tomatoes (they like that I guess, wierd I know, what plants LIKE to be transplanted? hehe).  Pardon my poor grammer this post, it is just flowing that way.

So each cup got tamped down to create a solid block-like soil mix, then two seeds were put into a divit and dirt was brushed over the hole.  Don't they look good all potted and labeled?

After that, I took my spray bottle and misted the tops about 20 times and placed them on top of the fridge to germinate. 

Once they sprout, it's up to the light system, where they'll get 12 hours of sun bathing 2 inches from the sun, hehe.  Very exciting!

Next up will hopefully be some cole crops.  Broccoli is 12 weeks before the Last Spring Frost (LSF), while cauliflower is 10 weeks before LSF.  Guess that means I should start the broccoli soon.

What a satisfying day.  I hope yours was the same!


  1. Your already to go and things are looking great. Good thinking with the separate lights for the taller stuff. I'm guessing you would only find those fancy plant trays through mail order, I have never seen anything but the cheaper ones at nurseries.

    My mind has been concocting a wooden homemade soil blocker ever since reading your e-mail. I may just give a 4 block maker a go before spring. It would be great to start zucchini, melons & squash with.

  2. Cool, man! You'll enjoy growing those seedlings, and the temperature in that room is perfect! I expect you to do very well with them.


  3. Yeah!! Can't wait to see your tomato seedlings soon :-) I like your light setup. I need to see if I can get a timer for mine as well instead of trying to remember to go and turn the light on/off.

  4. I filled a few of my trays yesterday, I'll be adding the seeds soon! How exciting.

  5. While we were hiking the other day, the kids and I ran across a planned green community that is due to start construction next year. They have TWO enormous greenhouses in the middle that are EMPTY!!! I've sent them an email to see if I could use them. Chances are that they will say no, but at least I've asked...