Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fun With Seeds

This year, for the first time in many years, I am trying to grow veggies from seed. This will also enable me to use a grow light I purchased several years ago when I intended to do this...my "round tuit" turns rather slowly. :) Anyway...for the record I want to proclaim that this is what all seed packets should look like, information-wise:

Sure, I like a color photo too, but on the front is a detailed description, the year it's packaged for, and even the price so you can keep it straight. On the back it gets even better:
Now it may seem basic, but I have been frustrated to distraction this year by packets that don't tell you days to germination, thinning...some barely admit what the heck is in the packet! Or they give you very generic "vegetable" growing tips, when the contents are an herb...*sigh*. Even referring back to the catalog description is no help sometimes....okay, I'm done whining. So here is my garden book with pics of some of my ordered seeds.......the 'Queen Red Lime' zinnia on the far right was out of stock, but look at that adorable pointy cabbage! I just couldn't resist, the heads are supposed to be small and yummy!I really enjoy vegetable spaghetti squash, and this is a "single serving size"-cool!Using my old plastic plant tags, I cut small slivers that will fit in my seed trays.......and used a jelly roll pan (to organize the envelopes) and ice cube tray to soak some very old seeds (as much as 11 years old!) I don't really expect any of the oldest to germinate, but you just never know and I can't bear throwing them away without trying. It's a sickness. :)My plan was to use these individual "jiffy-type" coir (and some peat) pots so that I could remove germinated stuff from under the cover as they emerged to prevent damping off. In hindsight, they dry out too fast and the roots don't always grow right through the sides as well as they should...next year it will be different. (Of course when using some old seeds alongside new seeds, I wanted to plan for my invariably variable results :) Well lookit here! Some sprouts already (this was actually several weeks ago). The bonsai tray is in there to lift some pots off the heat mat for seeds that don't want to be quite that warm...
....this is "Goliath", my grow light. He's very wide and reflective, with 4 long bulbs. His ballast and legs are aluminum, so he's very lightweight to handle...a "light light" (sorry, I couldn't help myself). I put the heat mat atop a coffee table covered with an old metal insulating mat that was under the propane heater that used to heat the house. Man, I'm glad I didn't throw that out!
My first potential victim of poor planning, this moonflower has since been transplanted to a larger container...twice! So it started out very simply, just one tray of seedlings in the plant/junk/computer room. Gizmo is making sure nobody (else!) gets to the seedlings...

...but as they sprouted and success was realized...

....I put a fan on them for awhile each day to strengthen the stems, and began to feel like a powerful, omnipotent vegetable-growing queen... ....but now I'm clearly out-numbered!
Somebody please stop me before I have to buy a greenhouse! ;-)

15 comments:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Don't count on me to stop you. I am an enabler. Buy a greenhouse:)

troutbirder said...

I'm exhausted just reading all the details and energy you put into this seed starting. Ok... I used to do it too, then I contracted tsld (terminal spring laziness disease) which is a human form of "damping off." Plus, by going to the greenhouse I'm helping to "stimulate" the local economy. :)

lisa said...

Debbi-LOL! I'm actually hoping to build one into an addition on the house...someday. But I have some unused windows and lumber, so I see a cold frame in my furure! :)

Troutbirder-"T.S.L.D."...hahaha! Sounds like the very thing I finally recovered from this year. It took me awhile to stop freaking myself out, trying to keep up with watering and such...next year I plan to make this MUCH easier for myself. This time I had a steep learning curve. Much as I enjoy stimulating the local greenhouse economy, this year the money's just not there. I'm glad this worked out so well...now I just have to harden them off without causing a mass murder... :)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Naw, don't get a greenhouse; convert to winter sowing instead! :) The coir pots weren't great for use in winter sowing, but I can see they're good for indoor sowing. My favorite seed packets, which contain all the info you mention plus beautiful color drawings of the plant, are from Renee's Garden and Botanical Interests.

lisa said...

Monica-I did do some winter-sowing also, these are just the veggies and annuals that demand an early start in my short growing season. Funny, I actually have better luck with the coir pots for wintersowing than indoors. Mr. BrownThumb untroduced me to those two nurseries when talking about Spring Fling...I sure hope my health (and cash) enable me to go!

donna said...

Okay....I'm exhausted from reading this this post. I believe you have as much energy as you have ideas. Very interesting and a fun read.

lisa said...

Thanks Donna! Judging from the comments so far, I think I got much more spazzed out than I needed to...happens a lot. :) At least I'm enjoying some victory for my trouble. (So far.)

Anonymous said...

Woo-Hoo! Good job!
Btw, I am likin' that grow light!
v.

chuck b. said...

Okay, you are very organized!

Are any of those seedlings from the old seeds?

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Lisa, I presoak peat pots for use in winter sowing and when I presoaked the coir, they got all fall-aparty. I winter sow veggies, too. I have tomato and pepper seedlings so far. Even though the indoor ones get bigger sooner (mine only have their seed leaves at this point)... it evens out because winter-sown ones don't need hardening off and can be planted out earlier. Um, I mean this informatively, not to come across as a WS bully! That would be wrong. :( About costs, do you know about megabus? I'm pretty sure they run from Milwaukee to Chicago; it's not as far a drive but you'd save money parking. Depending on when you book, it can cost from $8-$30 one way from Ann Arbor (5 hours). Also, check out couchsurfing.com or airbnb.com for cheap lodging. (Just call me Information Faerie or Queen Cheapie today!)

lisa said...

V-Thanks! Me too! :)

Chuck-I actually DO have some germination from the 11 year old seeds! Not much, but I was pleasantly surprised to say the least!

Monica-I appreciate the information on wintersowing veggies...I never considered it to be possible with "long season" stuff like tomatoes and such. (I don't think you're a WS bully at all! :) Thank you also for the travel resources, "Queen Cheapie"! Much as I want to go to Spring Fling, I still have to contend with my vertigo issues which will be the most likely "deal breaker" for me. I've been feeling better lately, so I have hope! :)

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Lisa, I didn't realize you have vertigo. I'm sorry to hear it. Do you have migraines? A friend has both, so I know a bit about what she's dealing with and I can understand how it can be a bit overwhelming, esp. in a big city.

lisa said...

Actually, they are calling them "vestibular migraines", where I get the vertigo even though I don't have headaches per se. It's been better lately though, so I have hope for SF...I just have to be sure I can manage the drive by myself.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Definitely buy a greenhouse--it would be like being in zone 5 or 6, at least!!! ;)

(Yeah, another enabler here. And I can't wait to hear what your pointy cabbage taste like... fun!)

lisa said...

LOL! If my lotto comes through, a greenhouse WILL go up! Otherwise...maybe a cold frame at least. :)