First Seedlings of 2010

It took me three hours to wash all the plugs and containers from last year. Or should I say, another three hours? I had washed them at the end of last  season, but storing them on the screened-in porch turned out to be not a good idea. So I washed and scrubbed in a bucket of water, dipped into a bucket of water+chlorine, rinsed in a bucket of water, dipped into a fresh bucket of water+chlorine (really don’t want pathogens in that tiny, contained micro-climate that will soon house most of my vegetable garden of 2010!), and rinsed in fresh water again. Let drip.

This is the collection of recycled containers – there are more than it seems from the pictures:

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With the 50 or so peat pots left over from last year, I think I’ll be all set. I do love those green containers that mushrooms come in: they’re strong, the right depth, and because they’re rectangular, they waste less space in the rectangular setup. 8 of them snugly fit one flat.

I did have to buy two new heavy-duty reservoir trays, which at $10 a pop will have to last me many, many years. The ones from last year are so leaky. They were the flimsy plastic kind that comes with the plug sheets, and got banged around quite a bit, from rack to bench to hardening-off area to garden, and back. So I won’t be using them for bottom-watering my seedlings, only of holding the seedlings on the light rack. I was thinking of punching holes into the leakiest ones and planting large batches of lettuce in them.

I installed the heat mat plus thermostat on the bottom shelf (the heat will rise and warm up the rest of the rack), but I won’t be using it yet: all the seedlings so far like my basement’s temperature (a constant 56F).

Here’s a wishlist for my potting area:

  1. clock
  2. radio
  3. brush
  4. trash can

And what went in?

  1. Olympia spinach (an incredible 38 days to harvest!) 2 x 10
  2. Longstanding Bloomsdale spinach (last year’s seed) (42) x 11
  3. Tom Thumb Bibb lettuce (46) x 20
  4. Cracoviensis lettuce (last year’s) (47) x 20
  5. Winter lettuce mix (50) x 20
  6. Bright Lights chard (last year’s) (56) x 8
  7. Bright Lights chard (56) x 8
  8. Safir cutting celery (60) x 24
  9. Ventura celery x (80) 24
  10. Redventure celery (last year’s) (84) x 24
  11. Brilliant celeriac (89) x 10
  12. Clear Dawn onion (last year’s) (104) x 20
  13. Clear Dawn onion (this year’s) (104) x 30

If my last frost date is 3 May (according to NOAA, there’s 50% chance of a later date at 32F; you can find this info here), then I’m sowing 13 weeks (oops) 12 weeks before the last frost date (BLFD). A bit early, I know, but I’ve got season extenders. I’m growing in raised beds (always a bit warmer, earlier), and I’ll be warming the soil in those beds with black plastic, and they’ll be covered with a hoop house and/or cold frames and/or extra row cover.

The first seven batches (those in italics) are so hardy, they will already have moved out by the time most seedlings need starting (6-8 weeks BLFD). Some of them are actually so fast-growing, they might even be ready to eat by then!

Spinach, in 4 weeks? Dare I dream it?

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you for the NOAA link! I didn’t know that information existed. (Thanks for the plangarden.com info too)

    I’ve been thinking about this and trying to decide when I should get my seedlings started. I need to clear out a space for them first though.

  2. Leigh, you don’t have a basement, right? I don’t know if I could do it without that space. We’d have to do it in the guestroom, and then our guests would have to endure 18 hours of fluorescent light!

  3. Thanks for the NOAA link, I’m going to check out my location.

    So, you start your onions from seed? I am reading a book on gardening and the author shows many pictures of him planting onions from little mini onions. He doesn’t say anything about onion seeds. Do you get one onion from each seed you plant? What is the advantage (other than cost) of planting onion seeds?

    Happy gardening,
    Chris

  4. Hi Chris,
    I tried the onion sets (3 month old onions) last year. They cost me a lot and none of them grew any bigger than when I put them in the ground. Don’t know why, but I don’t want to waste more money on them.

    The onions I grew from seed, however, did grow: they made good scallions. I put them in too late last year and didn’t treat them very well while they were seedlings, so I’m thinking if I start them earlier, keep up with the watering and set them out on time… who knows?
    Onions and potatoes are very important our diets, and both crops failed miserably last year. I won’t be growing potatoes this year (had blight last year) but I am hopeful for the onions!

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