|March 21, 2012|
|Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:09|
by Bob Smith
We have had such a mild winter, it is hard to realize spring is just around the corner, and we should soon be starting to grow vegetable and flower seeds that require longer than our usual growing season - and I think the best way is to start those seeds inside our 24 hour warmed house! We have a 65 degree basement with shelves, and we provide 16 hours of timed four foot fluorescent light bulbs daily, allowing the new seedlings to sleep in darkness for eight hours. The light fixtures are hung four inches above the seedlings, or their tallest leaves.
Here are some pre-planting indoor growth times it takes for vegetable and flower seeds we usually grow indoors here in Northeastern Indiana. I plan to plant the garden with these plants needing a longer growing season on Memorial Day, hoping to avoid any late freezes, directly adding seeds that will grow and mature during the remainder of our frost free summer.
Broccolli, 10 weeks; Cabbage, 10 weeks; Cauliflower, 10 weeks; Head lettuce, 10 weeks; Tomato, seven weeks; Eggplant, seven weeks; Peppers, seven weeks; Cucumbers, four weeks; Cantaloupe, four weeks; Squash, four weeks; Watermelon, four weeks; Rosemary, four weeks.
Begonia, 14 weeks; Pansy, 14 weeks; Violet, 14 weeks; Lobelia, 14 weeks; Stocks, 12 weeks; Blackeyed Susan, 12 weeks; Impatiens, 11 weeks; Torenia, 11 weeks; Coleus, 11 weeks; Petunia, 10 weeks; Flower Kale, 10 weeks; Ageratum, nine weeks; Snapdragon, nine weeks; Verbena, nine weeks; Diathus, eight weeks; Vinca, eight weeks; Nicotania, eight weeks; Ann. Phlox, seven weeks; SW Alyssium, seven weeks; Aster, seven weeks; Balsam, six weeks; Celosia, six weeks; Cornflower, six weeks; Marigold, six weeks; Portulace, six weeks; Datura, six weeks; Cosmos, four weeks; Zinnias, four weeks.
We will plant our indoor seeds next week, and I will tell you how we did it! Seeds can be started in many containers, from plastic coffee cups, to flower pots – but we start ours in what Johnny’s calls ‘jumbo plug flats,’ 36 cells, each cell with an open top, and slits for bottom watering, which separate into six “six cell packs,” all of which fit into waterproof seedling trays, and I recommend a clear plastic cover to retain heat and moisture until the new plants raise their leaves into the nice light that you should provide.
We use two - 48 inch fluorescent bulbs, one cool white, and one warm white. They will provide sun-like light, four inches above the leaves, over every two trays. There are more expensive “grow lights” available, but we have used these for years. We leave one cell completely empty, so when we check daily, we can see the level of the moisture in each group of six, and add nutritious drinks to each if needed. The furnaces in our basement keep the seed starting room at a steady 65 degrees. Be sure you keep written records of what plants are in each container! Good gardening