Well, our makeshift seedling heat mat worked perfectly. It stayed consistently warm without ever overheating, and just about all of the seeds sprouted within a week. Pretty good, especially for peppers, which can be very difficult to germinate.
In early March I started severalkinds of lettuce, red Russian kale, chard, tat soi, and two different packets of mixedgreens. I sowed them thickly in big containers, the idea being that I would eat the thinnings while they were in the cold frame, and whatever was left could be planted out in the garden. Now the cold frame is packed with greens that are ready to be transplanted. I’m hoping to get them in the ground this weekend. In the mean time I’ve been going through and snipping off leaves once a week or so, and enjoying the most delicious salads of baby greens. This afternoon I harvested two big handfuls of greens, which we proceeded to eat one leaf at a time, straight out of the salad spinner. This salad is so fresh and delicious, it doesn’t even need any dressing.
Right now I’m sitting out on the porch in the sun. I’m not even wearing a jacket. These little seedlings I just started last Monday are enjoying a little sunshine on the porch too. Look how much they’ve grown already.
Many gardening books and blogs and seed starting tutorials will tell you that If you’re going to grow things from seed, you really must have grow lights if you want to avoid ending up with sad little spindly seedlings. In the past I’ve been pretty successful with seedlings grown on my south-facing windowsills without the help of grow lights, so it certainly can be done.
This year there are so many things I want to start from seed that I probably don’t have enough windowsill space for everything. Still, I didn’t really want to spend a whole bunch of money on grow lights, and I don’t know where I’d put them in my little house anyway, so I decided to go with a low-tech solution. Scott found an old window at the dump and some old boards in his attic, and put together a nice little cold frame. It cost zero dollars and took maybe an hour. Continue reading →