Tag Archives: seedling
We have a very late start this spring, with frosts well into April! However, its time for first transplants of the year – our onions.
We are growing two heirloom types: Stuttgarter and Cortland. These are short-day varieties well suited for Northern gardeners, with pungent flavor and are THE BEST winter keepers. I will be planting around 200 onions to see whether this can satisfy our yearly demand. We have started the seedlings back in January, about 12 weeks before planned transplant. We seeded them in batches, roughly 50 per re-purposed square container in a soiless mixture of peat, perlite and vermiculite.
We prefer seedlings over onion sets because seeds are cheaper than sets and there is greater variety to select from. Also, seedlings, as well as direct seeding, produces onions that are better keepers than the ones grown from sets. However, we do prefer to start seeds indoors as opposed to direct seeding, because it ensures an earlier start, plus provides more control over the amount and the quality of the seedlings.
It’s a new year, new garden and a new attempt to keep the updates regular. Let’s make this happen.
So, you know the feeling. That feeling that creeps up on you in the middle of dead winter – its time to start my seedlings! So despite the 3 foot-deep snow outside and the negative degrees (Fahrenheit!) – thanks Pennsylvania winter! – you dig out your gardening tools, connect the grow lights and try to breath light into the cold, gloomy garage or whichever room is going to serve as a greenhouse for the next few months.
And then – and then you get excited. Excited because you know that spring is coming and this time its going to be better than ever. Because this time you have the added experience of the last year, the information from all those articles you read and a brand, grand new plan.
So, middle of January, onion seeds can go in, a few weeks later (beginning of February) its your cabbage family: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts; tomatoes, peppers, maybe a few basils or other herbs you may wish to start early. And now you are all set – to watch the snow melt outside (it will, I promise) as your seedlings grow inside.
I make my own grow mix from equal parts of peat moss, perlite and vermiculite. Moisten the mixture in a bucket for at least a day and put in small containers into the makeshift green house we made inside.
For the green house we used an industrial shelving unit form Lowe’s ($70-80), to which we retrofitted T5 grow lights (best price I found is here: http://www.thelashop.com/fluorescent-grow-light/) and covered the sides with mylar space blankets to reflect the light in all direction and keep it warm and moist. So far we love this setup – plus the shelving may be used for many other things once there are no seedlings!
The only problem I have been having with my seedlings (second year now) are thrips. They may be in the peat that I am using or literally coming from thin air, but just can’t quite figure out how to get rid of them for good.
I am currently trying neem oil spray on the seedling leaves and top of the soil (1 tsp per 2 cups water) we will see how it works. If anyone has any suggestions – let me know about your experiences!
We also are growing lettuce and spinach in our cedar container along with the seedlings and already harvested a decent amount for dinner! Such a treat in the middle of dead winter.
What and when are you starting for your grow season? Let me know!