Tag Archives: grow lights

Starting spring crops

Starting spring crops

It is February, which means it is time to be starting spring crops.  We start all our seedlings under grow lights and on seedling heat mats.  Everything is in our basement currently, but in the future we will be moving seedling production to the greenhouse.

Our seedling flats were moved to the basement today and have begun to come up to germination temperature.  Once the growing medium reaches the correct temperature we will add seeds.

Starting spring crops

Start with hardy and moderately hardy varieties

Everything we are starting now are varieties that are hardy and moderately hardy.  They will go into the garden well before our average last day of frost and will be protected with mini hoop houses.   Some of this will hopefully be going into a greenhouse we will build soon.

Our seedling choices for spring

We have amended our list of crops for this year.  Those we will be planting first are broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, spinach, red and white beets, and cabbage.

Determining when to start seedlings

While planning or starting spring crops we take advantage of the garden planning detail sheet in spreadsheet form.  We enter or ADLF and the spreadsheet will calculate when we need to start and transplant the different seedlings.  You can get the XLS file from the Mittleider Gardening group on Facebook.  It is in the files section there in the group.

Every couple weeks we will be starting more seedlings.

Changes we are making to our garden plan

We are dropping a few plant varieties that we really don’t eat and have added a few.   Radishes, eggplant, bush beans and Brussels sprouts have been removed from our garden plan for this year.  The bush beans were difficult to get everything picked without having some sort of trellis to hold up  the plants.  We are instead going a pole bean.  The others we found we just don’t eat much.  That space they used to occupy will be better used for the things we do eat.

Starting seedlings indoors

Starting seedlings indoors

Here at our home we have begun the process of starting seedlings indoors. We use seedling heat mats and grow lights in our basement. Starting seedlings indoors has been the one not successful step we have learned through the Mittleider Gardening Method to increase our gardening success. Growing our own seedlings gives us better control over ur garden. We only use the strongest and healthiest seedlings.

By controlling variables such as soil temperature, daily available light, moisture and nutrition we have more success as compared to direct sewing seeds into the garden. We won’t have seeds delayed in germination, or failing to do so entirely, because an unexpected cold snap moved through and dropped soil temps.

Starting seedlings indoors
Starting seedlings indoors

What do I need to get started

You’ll need a space where you have ample room and the ability to control temperatures. That space will need room for the plants as they grow and you bump them up to larger containers. Enclosed porches, an extra bedroom, the basement or a small seedling house with any required supplemental heat will work. Electricity to power the grow lights and seedling heat mat will be needed. A nearby access to water would be a bonus, but isn’t absolutely necessary.

If you’re utilizing a room with adequate light a grow light won’t be necessary. If you’re growing in a basement or a room with inadequate lighting you’ll need an artificial source to keep your plants alive and healthy.

What grow lights do I need

Grow lights can be purchased or made to suite your purposes with items commonly available at your local Walmart. Sams Club and Costco both sell “shop lights” that are complete and just need to be hung and plugged into a power source that will work.

Commercially made grow lights are more expensive, but the grow light bulbs will use less power. I’ve not idea how many years we will need to run ours to reach s break even point but am happy with our lights.

If you want to go the budget route you can find florescent light housings at Walmart. If you’re a handy person, or have one in your life that will help, the fixtures are easy enough to assemble, hang and then install bulbs. Standard florescent bulbs will work to start your own seedlings indoors. Or through places such as Amazon you can buy bulbs specially for grow lights that you can install in your fixture.

For those who are concerned about your energy consumption, consider going with the LED bulb. If you’re using existing florescent fixtures they can be easily converted to power the LED bulbs. Be sure to bypass the ballast to further reduce your energy usage. There are tons of great videos on YouTube that show the conversion process.

Why grow your own seedlings

Starting your own seedlings indoors is a great way to control the quality of your garden. Using certified seeds and sterile soil helps ensure there is no disease. By growing extra seedlings you can insure only the strongest and healthiest plants make it into the garden. Having healthy seedlings to transplant into the garden helps ensure all the available space is utilized. No failure to germinate from directly sewed seeds results in more on your table or in the pantry.