Last year I set up a small greenhouse in my garage. It was a gift from my parents and has come in quite handy. I keep it in the garage next to one of the windows and have an old aquarium light set up for the top shelf. This little greenhouse is the perfect place to harden off my seedlings before planting them outside in the vegetable garden. The temperatures in the garage fluctuate quite a bit ranging from a low around 40 degrees to the 70's on warm March days. I keep a digital thermometer in the garage that can read temperature and humidity to make sure that the seedlings are in no danger of temperature extremes. If the temperatures are forecast to be cold I'll zip the opening closed and if the humidity is too high I'll open the plastic covering. The plants will gradually get used to the temperatures and be better able to tolerate the temperatures when I finally plant them outside.
Right now I have most of our tomatoes in peat pots directly underneath the supplemental fluorescent lights.
I just planted a few canteloupe, cucmbers, and watermelon seeds this week. Since they may not transplant easily peat pots are an ideal way to reduce transplant shock and still start them early. It will be a few days before they come up. The water melons are the famous 'Moon and Stars' heirloom variety. I can't wait to photograph them in the garden! Of course I really can't wait to eat them!
These little cosmos seedlings will enter the self seeding garden when the safe planting date is past. I'm pre-starting many of the plants that need to go into that garden to ensure that I get it off to good start. After this year I will rely mostly on the natural germination of seeds from those plants in the garden. I'm using an old roasting pan as a seed flat with small terracotta pots. This makes a pretty good setup for bottom watering.
This week I started over 60 other seeds in this makeshift seed tray. I took a cardboard flat and covered it with a plastic trash bag, then I taped the ends. This will keep the box from disintegrating with moisture and gives me a convenient place to use all those saved sixpacks. I made sure to write down what we planted in each of these packs and kept each variety consistant within the six packs so I don't confuse myself.
Here's a quick look at one of the heucheras I planted from seed. I was able to successfully transplant 7 plants into peat pots. Two seedlings were pretty small so they tagged along with a couple older siblings until they grow more sizable. Nine heucheras all accounted for!
I also use the greenhouse to grow some of my cuttings from my plant propagation experiments. I've already taken cuttings of catmint, several salvias, and a 'Powis Castle' Artemesia.
Three of the catmint cuttings rooted already while there are a dozen or so fresh cuttings working on roots. Spring is the best time to take softwood cuttings of your favorite perennials!
Labels: plant propagation, seeds and seed starting