Seed Starting Miscellany

Thankfully, the long winter is at last being punctuated by seed starting time.

I have started about 2000 onion seedlings, and last weekend I managed to get a few broccoli seeds started as well.  I have a whole lot more broccoli to start but am waiting for some more trays to come in along with my cover crop order.

This year, due to the national organic requirements, I made my own seed starting mix.  It’s kind of a shame, because I have an entire cubic foot of pro-mix, never opened, in the garage.  However, my homemade mix seems to be doing really well so far & the root development on the onion seedlings is the best I’ve ever seen.  And the homemade mix is going to wind up being much, much cheaper.

Recipe for seed starting mix:

Mix 4 8-inch flower pots of perlite with an equal amount of coir seed starting media.  Add one shovel-full of mushroom compost.  Stir well.

The grow light setup that we’ve used for years is not going to be large enough this year.  Mr. B. is planning to build an expansion soon, before I run out of room.  There is at least one shop light of uncertain vintage and uncertain functionality stuck in the rafters of the old barn, so we may be using it.

Instead of seedling heat mats, I have used a cheap heating pad (the kind people use for backaches) for years to warm the soil under my tomato & pepper seedlings.  They don’t germinate well in a 60-degree house otherwise.  I almost bought another one yesterday at the grocery store until I saw the dreaded words “With Automatic Shutoff.”  Hopefully they still make them WITHOUT automatic shutoff.  A grocery store heating pad is much cheaper than an 80$ seedling heat mat.   I’ll be starting tomatoes, peppers, and, for the first time, eggplant in a few weeks, and will need to be able to heat more than one flat at a time this year.  If you plan to copy me, please be advised that putting the heating pad on “LOW” is plenty hot, and that I take no responsibility for you giving yourself an electric shock by overzealous watering, or somehow managing to burn your house down.

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