Sunday, April 5, 2009

It's a matter of Gardening...Growing plants from seed using grow lights---Part a

We have a "guest blogger" today, LRH's sister....who really does have a green thumb. She has kindly chosen to share how she begins her plants from seed and why. If you are anything like the LRH, you get a little intimidated at the thought of this. But, it's just like learning how to tie your shoes, tricky at first thought....but once you makes great sense and is such a good preparedness skill. My thanks to Jenifer B. for providing the information and photos:

This has been a work in progress and I still find different ways to improve it. The savings that you gain from growing your own garden far outweigh the initial start up costs. It’s rewarding, healthy and fun to see them progress from seeds all the way to harvest. It is best to learn to grow your own vegetables when you don’t need to rely on it. Although we live in difficult times, it is best to get started now. Once you get into it, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Funny how this is coming from someone who absolutely hated working in the garden when I was a kid. I guess you appreciate it more when you are older and ‘invest’ in the process. Bottom line, anyone can do this. Yes, even my sister who claims she has a ‘black’ thumb (...and she is referring to LRH!). The secret is: information, the more the better and the Internet is a great source.

First of all, if you are going to attempt starting your garden from seed, start small. That way your investment is minimal. You can build upon it as you go. The general rule to starting from seed is timing. Count back 8 – 10 weeks from the last frost date in your area. Your local state extension service should be able to provide that for you. Otherwise consult the Internet for your zip code. You will use the 6-8 weeks to grow your seedlings and then 1-2 weeks to harden off your plants. This is a very important step before you transfer them to your garden. For more details on how to do this, you can look on and or go to and look under the Growing from Seeds or Growing under lights topics. There are also forums that teach you how to start from seed without lights if this is what you prefer. This is just a drop in the bucket of topics on this website. These sites are where I gained my information and they have been invaluable. Remember, information is the secret.

How to begin:

Begin with jiffy pellets (see below). They are very convenient and not very expensive approximately $2.50 – $3.00 for 25 pellets.

With a little water the pellets expand.

Then, just plant and label your seeds and you’re on your way.

Starting off Small

You don’t have to go all out to start plants from seed. You can use the baggie method or the coffee filter/paper towel method. Again, consult the websites for more information. I use the fluorescent light method. The following setup is from when I first started. My husband built the box for me but you can find an ‘over the sink’ – extendable wire shelf at Walmart for less than $10 that will do the same thing. But here are pictures of my first attempt. It worked great.

The shoe shelf was purchased at K-mart for less than $5. As the seedlings grow, you can remove the legs of the shelf to allow for growth. A thermometer (found at the local dollar store) is not essential but it has come in handy as you want to keep your temperature between 55-75 degrees. It’s simply attached with duct tape.

Then use the Press–n–seal wrap to to wrap around the outside of the shelf. It’s great because it self sticks, so no tape. This helps hold in warmth. To germinate seeds, you need just that. Warmth. Not hot, just warm around 65-70 degrees. You don’t have to use light to do this. You can use an old heating pad, (one that will not auto shut-off after an hour or so) and turn it on low or on top of a refrigerator or freezer. But I kept them in the ‘box’ with the light and heating pad, then wrapped it with press-n-seal.
This is the end of "Part A"

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