Our set-up

So…while it may be like this outside:

18 degrees F (that's -7.7 degrees C)

18 degrees F (that’s – 7.7 degrees C)

We have this action going on in the basement:

Basement set-up

Basement set-up

I have mentioned our seed starting methods and shown some close-ups of flats, but I have yet to show you the actual setup. Not ideal, but it works. And it is working better than last year because we have spent our life savings in shop lights. This view is only of half the basement. There is more growing area behind where I stood for taking this photo.

At any rate, we have two tiers of planting areas on detachable plastic shelves. The lights hang from the ceiling on chains so that they are adjustable in height. Most of the light fixtures are 8 feet long. Some of our original lights from last year are 4 feet long doubled up. All lights are plugged into either a power strip with an imbedded timer or to individual timers. Are there some light voids over the flat, yes, but the plants aren’t too leggy as of yet. I did have an emergency blanket up earlier on (before the second planting tier) for added insulation and light reflection. Probably, it was helpful. Are we pulling a lot of power with this setup? I don’t think so. Our most recent power bill was actually down from the previous month.

The soil mixing and block making happens right there on the floor. It is just easier for me to sit there and do it. I do the seeding of the blocks on the counter to the right. I have a little light that is positional that helps me see what it is I am doing. I haul in water for the soil block making in buckets and use the sprayers to water the seedlings. The sprayer seems to work well. I like that I can adjust the flow of water. I have heard that some folks setup fans on seedlings to help toughen them up in preparation for winds and such. I think the sprayer kind of acts the same way. I have been misting daily to every other day.

I have mentioned that Jordan is working on an actual seed starting / growing area structure onsite, at the farm. But building projects take time…and money. But right now a lot of time.

So. The basement works. The investment in lights is worth it. The seedlings look great.

Onion seedlings already forming bulbs!

Onion seedlings already forming bulbs!

As an aside to any other nerds out there: we inadvertently setup a sort of experiment. Most of our shop lights take 75W bulbs. We accidentally bought a light that took 110W bulbs. Then bought a few more. All of the bulbs are cool-white. True, the lumens  are different for the bulbs (75W = 5000 lumens while 110W bulb is 8700 lumens), but visually, it seems the seedlings do not respond any differently to this difference in lumens. The seedlings under the 110W HO (high output) lights are not bigger, greener, or any tougher looking than those under the 75W lights. Why does this even matter? Well. Money. The 110W lights are more expensive…fixtures and bulbs. And I just don’t think more lumens = more or better growth. Curious. Soon it will matter less which lights are needed because I will have the power of the sun! The best light source for seed starting! 🙂



Awaiting spring

What an amazing weekend! Bright sunshine. Comfortable temps. Slight breezes. Man, it really gets ya eager for spring!

Change of seasons….

Nature is already telling us that a change is underway….daffodils are coming up, forsythia is getting ready to shower some color, and the maples are preparing to release some pollen. I am trying to watch these sorts of things to help with timing of some of my planting this season. The process of observing / recording plant and animal cycles over the seasons is called phenology. In my simple mind, it goes back to a mantra I believe…that things happen for a reason. Plants emerge, leaf out, flower, insects appear, animals behave this way and that…all of this and more occur because of an underlying cause – mostly temperature (climate).

The importance of what happens around you….

Daffodils have a wide territory, so why should you care what they do? The cool thing about following what happens in your backyard is that, well…it is specific for YOUR backyard. Meaning – you can determine the climate in your region at a specific point in time which may impact planting decisions or growing conditions. Or…just be nice to look at and take note! In a world of generalities, it is kind of nice to have something that can guide you in your decision making. At any rate, we’re gonna give it a try as a sort of experiment. Can’t hurt!

In the meantime….

Hard work is underway. Granted, we are still in the basement, but we have a better setup than last year for our seed starting operation. Onions, cabbages, kohlrabis and other greens are beginning their pampered lives with words of encouragement, every other day mistings of moisture, and warm shop lights. LOTS of shop lights. (A growing area will be built one of these days). Soon, some direct seeding will happen out in the field – peas, carrots, beets and others. It is a much anticipated and exciting time! What’s going on in your area?

Minuet cabbage

Minuet cabbage starts

2014 underway

Exciting progress (well, to me)…our seed starting spring adventure tour is officially underway.



Tray 2 out of 3…I know, not overwhelming, but it is a start. Two-hundred and fifty organic candy onion seeds per flat, lovingly tucked into their organic soil blocks and ready for pampering. Go germination go!

Candy onions. Yum! More to come of those and several other amazing varieties…it is nice to get started again despite the cold, dreary doldrums that happen about this time of year.

Here’s to spring dreamin’ and garden preparations!