Mar 08 2012 - 2012 Garden Season Begins! (Days 1-4)

This season I’m planting my own seedlings/transplants for the garden. I figured growing everything from seed would be the next step in the life of a gardener, but in order to grow your own seedlings, you need light. I do not have sufficient light in the house for growing, so after doing a little research on grow lights, I ended up building my own based on a couple ideas I saw on www.vegetablegardener.com and Youtube. Here’s the finished product (sorry for the bad photo):

My Grow Light

My Grow Light

I’ve read all sorts of things about the different types of lights, temperatures, etc. I decided to use T5 fluorescent bulbs, mainly because they came with the lights, but also because they’re much more efficient (and smaller) than your standard T12 flourescent bulbs. After all, they’ll be on 18 hours a day, so efficiency is a good thing. I couldn’t find any 24″ (approx) lights that had a plug and reflector…everything I saw in this size had to be hardwired with no reflector, so I improvised. I have a box of monitor cords in the basement, so I used a couple of these to fashion my own plug for each light (very easy to do). For the reflector, I bought eight pieces of aluminum flashing from the local Home Depot and screwed them to the sides of the board to keep as much light on the plants as possible. The frame is made out of your standard 1 1/4″ PVC tubing, elbows, tees, and caps. I added the plastic tub to keep things tidy…no worries about dirt or water getting out.

While this was in the building stages, I ordered my seeds from a company called Park Seed. This is the first time I’ve ordered anything from them, so I hope I’m not disappointed.

I sowed the following seeds on March 4, four days ago, so technically that was “Day 1″ for the 2012 season.

  • 8 – Squash Contender Hybrid (zucchini)
  • 8 – Tomato Supersweet (cherry tomato)
  • 8 – Organic Tomato Moneymaker
  • 8 – White Wonder cucumber
  • 8 – Cucumber Homemade Pickles
  • 8 – Pepper Merlot (purple bell)
  • 8 – Pepper Sweet Spot (think big banana peppers)
  • 12 – Lettuce Green Ice
  • 8 – Garden Bean Blue Lake (pole bean)
  • 8 – Lima Bean Eastland

The rest of the garden will be sowed directly outdoors in a month or so when the soil warms up and frost isn’t a factor. For you those of you that live in Michigan, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about…frost?…this winter?…yeah, right. This was a VERY mild winter..hardly any snow and only a handful of really cold days. If I knew it was going to be so mild, I would’ve left my leeks in the ground last season to let them plump up a bit.

On to today, Day 4 of the season. At this point, I’ve noticed two White Wonder cucumber shoots so far. Everything else is still dormant. I didn’t do anything special (soak the bean seeds) before sowing these seeds…I just put them in the soil, added water, and now I wait. I don’t think I was adding enough water the first couple days..I noticed the soil was really dry the next morning. So yesterday I gave each plant a shot of water…today they still look moist, so I topped them off.

Forgot to mention, for the soil, I’m using Burpee eco-friendly Seed Starting Super Growing Pellets. The Burpee site sells 72 for about $10. I bought mine at Home Depot, $3 for 36. I’ve never used these before, so we’ll see how they go. One thing I noticed, not all the pellets seem to rise to the occasion when water is added. Some expand nicely. Others need a little push to expand.

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  1. Josh
    Posted April 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Hey Friend – careful not to let any water run around that PVC and then into the plants. PVC has lead and other nasties that are not consumption safe!

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