Saturday, February 21, 2009

Springtime Under Lights

Spring is here!  Well, at least under the lights in my basement it is! The first seedlings of the season are up and thriving! Here's what's growing:

4 types of Leeks (Giant Musselburg, Lancelot, Blue Solaize, and Prizetaker)
Romanesco Cauliflower, Veronica 
Heirloom Italian Sprouting Broccoli DiCiccio
Gonzalas, Early Spring Cabbage 
Tuscan Black Kale
Red Russian Kale

I'm hoping these guys will be ready to go in the ground around Saint Patrick's Day--that's the best time to plant peas too!  It's hard to believe it'll be planting time soon.  As I write this it's snowing sideways! Starting plants under lights lets you get a spring fix even in the winter!

It's really easy to start plants from seeds, and you don't need to spend a fortune on a fancy set-up.  Mine is just a set of wire shelves from Ikea with each shelf about 14" apart, and shop-lights that hang from the shelf above on chains.  You want to be able to keep the light source about 2-3" above your plants.  As the seedlings grow you shorten the chains to raise the lights up.  I find that, as far as the bulbs go, the real grow lights give the best results, although I've used regular fluorescent shop light bulbs in the past.  The grow lights cost a bit more, but the seedlings really do seem to do better with them, so I think they're worth the extra buck or two.  I have the lights on a timer so I don't have to remember to turn them on and off.  I give my seedlings about 14 hours of light each day.  On gray, wintery days like today I find lots of excuses to go and check on the seedlings so I can get a bit of that springtime light therapy too!