Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tons of Transplants

Wasn't this winter crazy? The cold weather seemed to go on and on. While the arctic cold fronts lined up for the chance to visit Texas, I stared out at my garden anxious to get started on my spring planting. Very soon impatience won out and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

If spring was going to be late this year, I was determined to be ready when it got here by starting my seeds in the house. It helped that I already had a home-made seed growing rack. The rack shown below can accommodate 4 seedling flats. It's assembled from PVC and uses inexpensive shop lights hung on adjustable chains.

Indoor seedlings grow best under full spectrum light bulbs with the lights just above the seedlings. I use chains and s hooks to adjust the lights to just the right height. A light timer is real handy to make sure the seedlings get 14 hours of light daily.

This sweet basil seems pretty happy under the grow lights.

A sunny spot, a container, soil and some seeds are all that is needed to get started growing seeds indoors. For me, success has come from trial and error. When something went wrong, I researched the problem and decided how best to solve it. For example, did you know that seedling's stems are made stronger by air currents? Running a ceiling fan or other low powered fan will help the seedlings develop stronger stems.

Not all seeds will germinate, so I always grow more than I need. This seed starting system can accommodate 72 seedlings at once. The two trays sit in a reservoir which allows the seedlings to wick up water from below. This three piece tray and reservoir system is reusable. If taken care of it will last multiple seasons.

Seed starting mix is a very fine soilless mix specially suited to starting seeds. I like mixes that contain worm castings. These specialty mixes are very pricey compared to other soil mixes, which is one reason why seeds are started in small cells and then moved up to larger containers later.

Grower's medium is a courser soilless mix that is generally either peat based or coir based. The mix I'm using contains mycorrhizae bacteria which assist plant roots in taking up nutrients. 

Grower's mix does not usually contain a fertilizer, so it is up to the grower to decide how to fertilize the plants. I like to water with a diluted liquid fertilizer, so the plants get a steady supply of food.

With a little luck, the seedlings will be healthy like the okra and cucumbers shown below.

With a little more luck, there will be an abundance of seedlings. 

Like I was saying earlier... It was a long winter.

I'll be selling my excess seedlings online at the Yard to Market Co-op website. The plant mugshots I took for the online catalog are shown below. 

I hope to fit one of all these varieties into my garden this year, but considering I'm already out of garden space that might be tricky. But wait, I have an idea. I'm going to try grow bags this year. More on that to come.


  1. Good information.
    This year has been very frustrating, for gardeners. Hopefully we're finished with the cold fronts. Maybe one more next week. :(
    I'm ready to move things outside.

  2. Wow. that is an impressive set up. No wonder many of my seeds fail. I need to take note of what you are doing with the grower's medium. Where do you purchase that? Also your light stand. Very impressive. Grow Bags? That is something they use a lot in England. People grow their tomatoes in them.I would certainly buy your plants if I lived close by.

    1. I purchase my grower's medium at Brite Ideas. It's a cool store down on Congress and Ben White area. They have grow bags too at very reasonable prices.

  3. Wow!! An impressive venture. Best of luck with selling--your plants are beautiful and promise lots of yummy-ness!

  4. I always love looking at your transplant tower. :)