Time for sprouts!

Since we got a late start last year, we purchased our garden plants from the local garden center.

This year we’re starting from seeds, and to do this we needed a place to grow sprouts.  Our previous attempts to spout seeds in an outdoor greenhouse at the old Cherry Plum house were not very successful due to poor temperature control.  (too cold, too hot, dead plants!)

This time we’re sprouting them indoors.  Although our current temperatures this week are in the high 70’s F during the day.  Seriously, what is with this weather?  Jan / Feb are becoming part of our growing season!  Still, it gets cold enough at night to halt the sprouting process, so keeping them inside and on a heated grow mat is a good idea.

So I made a wooden stand to support a 4 foot long fluorescent grow light, and put it on a table in our guest bedroom.  (Also known as “Wendy’s Crafting Room”.)  We then started planting.

Next we added plastic greenhouse tops to the flats, and a heated grow mat under them.  I added a simple timer to the light so that it gave a solid 18 hours of light per day to the seeds.

We had everything planted and set up on Saturday, the 31st.  As of today, February 3rd, we’ve already seen germination and sprouts.  The Squash are in the biggest hurry to sprout, but even the beans are showing signs of germination.

Next up is getting the garden ready to accept the new inhabitants.

Last year we grew a LOT of tomatoes.  They did well, but the trellis I built for them wasn’t strong enough to keep them supported.

Unfortunately, I’m not good with fresh tomatoes.  I have an allergy to them until after they’ve been cooked or dried enough for their proteins to unravel a bit.  And Wendy found to her disgust that she can’t eat them due to an ulcer.  So this year, no tomatoes.  (Well, maybe one).

If you check out the map of our house, this year instead of tomatoes on the tomato trellis, I’ll be planting other climbing vegetables.  Beans and squash maybe.  Although this spot only gets morning Sun.  Hmm… I’m actually not sure what I’ll be planting here as yet.

The garden area to the South of the house is going to become “Pepper City”.  It turns out that the Argentine Ant doesn’t like pepper plants, and stays off of them.  So this year I’ll be planting quite a lot of them along this area.  Our canning went so well last year that we’ve already eaten all the results!  We want more!  So we are planning on planting several of the very “meaty” types of peppers, along with some of the “hot” types that I love.

But I still want to grow a lot of other types of plants, and wasn’t sure how to keep them pest free.

I’ve still got plans to (eventually) build an aquaponics greenhouse, (once my woodshop is complete), so there’s space on the map where my “future greenhouse” will be placed.  It’s just a dirt yard at the moment.  And I really don’t want to create a garden on it.  So I’ve come up with a more seasonal solution.  I’ve decided to use that area to do some container planting.

My plan is to use 2x4s to build a raised platform that is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long.  It will be raised off of the ground at least 6 inches by 2×4 uprights at the corners.  The uprights will be a full 8 feet tall, and will allow me to cover the garden with shade cloth during the hottest parts of the summer.  The uprights will also allow me to build trellis supports for the plants.

I’ll plant the young plants into sub-irrigation planters, using a mix of compost, potting soil and vermiculite.  The problem is the buckets.  Both Lowes and Home Depot sell their buckets pretty cheap, just under $3.00 each.  It takes two buckets per planter, and if the stand can hold 32 planters, that’s 64 buckets, or 190 dollars!

I think I’ll see if I can get some for free!  And I’ll definitely recycle my planters!  I may also use some other forms of planter – plastic boxes maybe.

The idea of using a raised planting surface is that I’ll be able to tanglefoot the feet of the platform, and therefore keep the ants from moving in!  

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