Friday, March 22, 2013

Link to a Must-Read Post PLUS DIY Seed Starting Rig Update

First, I wanted to share an interesting post about how many seeds to store/how much land you need to survive from The Survivalist Blog. If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check it out as it has some food for thought. You need to store many more seeds than you may think!

Second, remember that DIY Seed Starting Rig I made? We have been putting it to hard use and have made a few adjustments to it with experience.

Here is what it looks like today. There are plants growing on four levels of the shelving unit. If we massively increase our garden in years to come, we'll definitely have to add another shelving unit, but this will work for now.

The rig in use

We started out with only one shop light per level, but soon found that the seedlings on the outer edges of the flats were bending toward the light.

Two shop lights work better than one. You can use one in a pinch, though. 

We rotated the plants so all would have nice, straight stems, but found that it was better to just add another shop light to each level. I am so pleased with the results that we have gotten so far.

'Dwarf Blue Curled' Kale

'Farao' cabbage. These babies need transplanted soon. 

'Waltham 29' Broccoli' 

Our broccoli plants are getting extra TLC at the moment. They got a little stressed for water (see below) and  appear to need some additional fertilization. I'm paying close attention to their moisture levels and dosing them with liquid kelp and effective microbes.

The above plants were all started a month and a half ago and are certainly large enough to be hardened off and transplanted outdoors. There's just one problem: we keep getting snow! We're supposed to get another 1/2 ft. of snow this weekend.

'Purple of Sicily' cauliflower - started on March 10. We just thinned the seedlings to one per pot.

You might also notice that we have ditched the toilet paper roll seed starting pots. They work fine, but they hold so little soil that they get dried out quickly and require transplanting up into large containers. I am lazy enough that those factors make a difference for me.

'Five Color Silverbeet' - Rainbow Chard

Last weekend we planted our first seeds that require additional heat to germinate - eggplant and peppers. Tomatoes are also in that category and will be started this weekend. We bought some seedling heat mats to place under the flats that hold heat-loving plants. They raise the temperature 20 degrees above the ambient temperature of the room.

The eggplants have sprouted

Apparently it is working because we have baby eggplants. I've never grown eggplants before.

Eight shoplights + two seedling mats = a perceptibly warmer room. We think the additional warmth in the area is one of the causes for the stressed broccoli. We are paying very close to attention to moisture levels so they will outlive the lingering winter weather and survive to get transplanted outdoors.

Have you started your spring garden yet? What is growing at your house? 


  1. Thanks for the linked info; just what I've been looking for myself!

  2. We built a seedling start up following after yours and we are also delighted with the results! We also bought seed starting soil versus using our regular topsoil! Most of our seeds sprouted! Usually they die or get moldy (we were using those little dried out things you soak in water). This year we bought small cups from the Easter section in WM. So we could reuse them year after year. Anyway we started our cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage. Mrs. W

    1. I'm glad to hear that you are having such great success this year! Hopefully we'll both have amazing gardens this year. :)

  3. So an update! This rig is simply amazing! Usually half our seeds don't sprout. And the ones that do start looking leggy fairly quickly. Now we have about 99% of our seeds sprouted! And using the fan has really strengthened the stems, my husband and I are so thankful to you we wouldn't have thought of building this! So ready to have an awesome garden this year last year didn't happen and the year before didn't do near as well as I would have liked! Mrs. W

  4. you and your family doing ok? you haven't posted in a while.

    1. We're all fine, just very busy! Hopefully I can pull a post together sometime soon. Thanks for caring. :)