Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day 2011!

Ever since grade school when we were given tiny Dixie cups filled with dirt and a handful of seeds, I've loved to watch something so tiny spring to life and grow.  I don't plant tomatoes or peppers out in the garden until the end of May, so I usually don't start my seeds much more than a month ahead of time.  Over eager seeders usually end up with leggy plants that don't perform any better in the garden.

I've had this plant stand built many years ago.  It's a simple A frame with plywood shelves with regular shop lights on chains that can be moved as the plant grow.  There are three levels, and it holds about 10 flats. I have a heating mat to to help get the tomatoes and peppers germinated. I use jiffy pots in the trays; they are easy to use and you can pop the whole thing in the garden when it's time to plant.

One of the tricks that I use to help the seedlings develop into sturdy plants is to run a small fan to gently blow across the seedlings once they've developed a true set of leaves.  It helps prevent damping off, a sad fungal affliction that causes the seedlings to wilt and keel over. 

I recently purchased this counter top compost bucket with a charcoal lid insert. Egg shells, coffee grounds, and all fruit and veggie scraps go in here before moving to their new outdoor composter (from Sam's Club - $40) that I just got set-up this week:

But I am most excited about my new 12' x 3' cold frame right outside my office. 

Inside Cold Frame
I'll be able to start spring greens much earlier now,  harden off my inside flats without constantly moving them in and out of the garage,  plus extend the fall season probably until Thanksgiving.

My next projects include emptying my basement dehumidifier into a watering can instead of putting it down the drain, and installing a rain barrel to collect the water from the downspout.  

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