This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

planting shelves, seeds, and trays


My planting shelves and lights are ready to go! My husband set them up for me. (Thanks Steve!) Rather than putting them in the garage this year, they are in a small pantry where I store my canned goods, books, etc. I can adjust the temperature in here without heating up a large room. Last year they grew very slowly in the 60F garage.

I addition to having the shelves ready, I just sent out my last seed order - the snail mail one to Sand Hill. I'm enjoying seeing my new seeds arrive in the mail. I'll have to show a photo soon of my seed collection as I have a new way of organizing and storing them

Next - I have to get my trays and seed pots cleaned up. 4 WEEKS 'TIL PLANTING - and counting!!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Counting down the days until we can start sowing, too! My husband based our lights on your set up several years ago and they work a treat; so much cheaper than the light kits. My lights have been hard at work all winter, growing lettuce. My husband became a convert to home grown food when he tried the lettuce and this year insisted that we try to grow lettuce all year. It has worked very well and helped by getting my hands in potting compost while providing that bright green foliage that I usually miss seeing. DebS.

January 22, 2017 3:31 PM

Blogger kathy said...

WOW. That's great that you grew all you lettuce this winter. I'd love to try that.

I have my outdoor winter tunnel that works well, but the plants don't grow much outside in the winter. They need more light. Someday, I hope to fill up a couple tunnels with lettuce full grown in the fall and then pick it all winter. Or, I'll grow it inside like you. I imaging fluorescent light tubes don't cost very much to run.

January 23, 2017 12:31 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Running six 40 watt fluorescent tubes for 12 hours costs about 32 cents

So for a month, that's 30 days x $0.32 = $9.60

I think this is a fraction of the cost to buy lettuce for a month. Depending on how much you use and how much you grow. And nothing beats homegrown anyway!

January 23, 2017 12:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cut a fresh head of lettuce every other day -- my husband likes lettuce and eats a salad every day for lunch. It really is so much nicer than the stuff available in the grocery store during the winter. Of course, he has been warned that once seed sowing starts in earnest, the amount of room that I have for lettuce production is going to decline! DebS.

January 23, 2017 5:54 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Ha! So your seed sowing is more important than hubby's lunches??! (Maybe he needs another shelf or two for his lettuce until the outside harvest begins?)

January 23, 2017 7:16 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! Seed sowing is very important! I can't complain; he did not understand why I wanted a garden until he tried the lettuce. Now he can't stop thinking about my vegetable garden and what we can do with it - and I make sure that I grow some things that I know he really likes so that he continues to see the value. He announced last week that he has decided to expand the garden this spring (he has already ordered the walkway fabric without telling me). He is adding to more 4' x 8' beds and moving all the beds to widen the pathways. He doesn't know the first thing about gardening but he is very useful for manual labor! I think he also gets quite a kick out of the fact that the garden has become famous in our neighborhood and he has conducted a few impromptu "tours." DebS.

January 23, 2017 11:20 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Wow tours! You are famous. Wonderful to inspire other gardeners or would be gardeners. My husband sounds very similar. He enjoys doing all the construction and loves eating the lettuce and oteher vegetables too. Fresh tomatoes...

January 24, 2017 10:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very nice setup! When using the grow lights, do you find your tomato seedlings/plants getting tall and skinny/leggy? I find that happens with mine. I would love to know how keep them shorter and have the stalks be thicker.

January 24, 2017 2:47 PM

Blogger kathy said...

No they shouldn't get leggy under lights. The trick is to give them LOTS of light. Use full spectrum plant bulbs. Put the bulbs very close to the plants. Fluorescent lights don't generate heat so they won't hurt the plant if they touch them. I use two sets of shop lights with two bulbs each per shelf do that way I have four bulbs per shelf. If the seedlings are stretching in one direction you need more bulbs.

Another thought is to lower the temperature. If you have lots of light very close to the plants and still they are leggy, try lowering the temperature. I like to grow seedlings at about 68F.

January 24, 2017 10:48 PM

Blogger kathy said...

In addition to lots of full spectrum light right near the seedlings, 68F or so temperature, also you can run a fan to circulate air near the seedlings. Air movement will cause the seedlings to make sturdier stems. Move the trays around so they all get some air movement.

January 24, 2017 10:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.....I use T-8 fluorescent shop lights that I just picked them up from Home Depot. I don't think they are full spectrum lights so maybe that is causing the problem. Do they sell those kind in stores?

Good idea about the fan! I will try that as well.

January 25, 2017 10:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being locally "famous" is good and bad. when I'm out walking my dog, complete strangers come up and just start asking me what I've got in the garden in such-and-such a bed (quite unnerving as It means they've had to enter my backyard to take a look). One person asked if they could come around once a week with a grocery bag and pick what they wanted -- and they would repay me with seeds!

Our husbands do seem very similar with the practical assistance. Mine prefers kale, broccoli, snow peas, French beans and carrots to tomatoes though!

If I could add a little to the excellent advice you've given on tomato seedlings to Anonymous -- T5 and T8 bulbs work just fine. Once you have two sets of true leaves on your tomato seedlings, water them with a little Epsom salt and 1/2 strength liquid plant fertilizer to strengthen the plants. Continue to provide 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks until they are ready to plant out. You could also repot the seedlings, planting them deeper than they were originally, if they start to go leggy. DebS.

January 25, 2017 6:14 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I get my full spectrum grow light bulbs at Home Depot. I still use the old fashioned T12 bulbs in my shop light fixtures, 40 watt. The grow lights are to the side of the regular bulbs in Home Depot and sometimes in short supply. They are labeled aquarium and plant grow lights. For T12, full spectrum grow light bulbs are maybe $10 instead of the $8 for regular bulbs and well worth the difference. Bulbs last 3 years or so.

Even with T5 and T8, getting plant lights (full spectrum) is important for nice green stocky seedlings. T5 grow lights cost a bit more to run than T8 and are nice, but T8 grow lights are very similar in performance to T5. A fixture with a good reflector can help if you can't get your bulbs right up next to the plants.

I like Deb's advice on the fertilizer. If you are using an organic potting soil it may only have an initial "starter" amount of fertilizer, or none at all. Then you will need to add fertilizer for the seedlings to grow deep green and healthy. Sometimes I use Miracle Gro potting soil that has extended release fertilizer and then the seedlings are fine until you set them out.

January 25, 2017 8:50 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Wow, Deb. It does sound unnerving to realize people you don't know are going into your backyard. Maybe you need a "beware of the dog" sign. Or a fence. I would not be pleased if someone asked if they could pick my vegetables for themselves. That's just odd. We have theft at our community gardens and, in the past, groups of people have been seen to come by at a regular time with grocery bags that they fill from garden plots. Not cool. So, many of us now have tall fence and locks, which is unfortunate. Anyway, it's really super to be an inspiration for home vegetable gardening - however you can do it. It is so important that people re-learn the value of do-it-yourself food production on small scale. So may reasons to grow it yourself.

January 25, 2017 9:01 PM


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