by Cynthia Kerson
Today, I was inspired by another blog post to further my tale of the Confessions of the Seedling Killer. You may recall my post in December about my difficulty in starting seeds. I am trying again after feeling defeated, encouraged by my husband not to give up.
With seed starting in mind, I created a section in my garage (the HER's side) with left-over cabinets from our remodel. I started by removing anything inside the cabinets that was not related to gardening. This left a pile on the HIS side, and things got organized pretty quickly. To further organize my seed planting practice, I painted a blackboard so I can glance at dates for sprouting, replanting, harvest. There is also a column for what type of medium is used – seedling starter or soil, this being something that has confused me in the past. I keep a cooking apron, scissors, a potting spade, pencil, chalk for the chalkboard, labels, indelible markers, and other handy tools nearby so I don't have to waste time looking for those tools when I need them.
I have three heating pads to keep the planters warm (they stay at about 70-80°) and two thermometers to check. I'll add a piece of plastic between the tray and heater if they get too hot or remove it if they start to get below 65°. Putting clear covers will help with temperature control as well as keeping in moisture. At times there seems to be too much moisture so I remove the covers temporarily.
Referring to the photo, the grow-pac tray on the left is self-watering. It seemed like a good idea so I am giving it a try. Otherwise, I water dry looking cells each day. The time of day I water is dependent on my work schedule, but usually during the first half of the day.
I'm using a commercial seedling starter in two of the trays. The self-watering one came with coir tablets that inflated with water. So far, those seeds are doing as well as the others.
It's always fun to see the new starts come up. I have learned that they'll be ready to be transplanted into “real” soil once a set of true leaves appear after the cotyledons. You'll be hearing from me during that stage and I'll report about the self-watering tray. Check out the links below for great information.
Seed starting http://ucanr.edu/sites/ucmgnapa/files/153964.pdf
UC ANR blog-start seedlings https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=23366
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Photo credits: Cynthia Kerson