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Come on little seedlings...

by Cliff Sharples (chief cultivator)

Seed starting rack in living room
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Seed starts have never been my thing... but this year, with a lot of encouragement, we started vegetable seeds in our living room. So far so good!

I love the beginning of a project. You get an idea, you make a plan and you dive in full of enthusiasm and optimism. When we decided to start seeds, the project began much this way. Maybe it's a guy thing, but the part of the project that involves gathering materials and using tools is always the most fun. After a quick check on seed starting systems online, I decided to go the budget route - use some existing shelving and a trip to Home Depot!


Elfa Madness

in one of many organization fits my wife and I have suffered, we always seem to acquire more Elfa shelves; you know, the ones that are like baker's racks? We have lots in the garage, and so one day, I decided that whatever was packed onto one of them could just as easily live tucked into the back corner. I outfitted the rack with industrial-sized wheels, and voila - a moveable seed starting system was born!

Home Depot provided $9.95 a piece shop lights and some chain to hang them on the underneath of the racks. A really nice Home Depot guy gave me a tip that a bin of florescent tubes on sale had the exact same UV / light output as the really expensive grow-light kinds... Done!



Lots of Tomatoes

We love tomatoes in our house... cherry, heirloom, green, pear... they are all wonderful. Given that, most of the seeds we planted are various tomatoes from Renee's Garden and Seeds of Change. We also planted some peppers, brussel sprouts, sunflowers and pumpkins.



We decided to try different technologies on the pots. Some seedlings are in homemade newspaper pots (check out how here), and some are in Cow Pots (made from cow dung). In general, most of the seedlings seem fine, though the tomatoes started to have their bottom leaves go yellow and fall off. A fellow Dirt member suggested nitrogen deficiency, solved by fertilizing. After a drink of organic "Bumper Crop," the tomato contingency markedly improved, though one variety looks a bit anemic compared to the others.



The sunflower seeds are not working that well, unfortunately. Most died, and one is really stringy and fragile looking. I'm thinking maybe directly planting in the garden may prove better... As for everything else, we're waiting for Seattle to get above 50 degrees at night before we can clear the rack.



Size Doesn't Matter, Right?

I went to the nursery yesterday, and got a little jealous. Since everyone in the world seems to be growing a vegetable garden, all of Seattle's nurseries and even grocery stores are carrying vegetable starts. At Molbak's they have a huge row of tomato plants of every size, shape and variety, standing almost 2-3 feet tall already! Like a body builder injected with steroids, these plants look like they'll be producing fruit any minute. My 90-pound weakling plants look like a raindrop will smash them. Ah well, they'll kick into gear when they get outside, right?



SEEDLINGS, Seed starting, tomoatoes, vegetables, starts


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marcydiané commented on 06/01/12
I totally hear you on the jealous over size comment!! My friend I gave some of my tomato seedlings to has tomato plants that are 2 - 3 times the size of mine. Another friend bought some of those larger tomato plants at Home Depot with blooms on it and she harvested her first Roma already! Your seed starting system looks great and I think I might try to duplicate it for next spring seed starting. Great photos! Good luck with the plants!
gardengirl commented on 05/07/10