Friday, February 29, 2008

Field Report

I'm a perfectionist but I don't believe in worrying about getting something right the first time. People are good at learning from their mistakes, well at least some people, but most people aren't very good at planning ahead to prevent those mistakes from happening. After you know how to do something you damn well better do it right, but while you're learning mistakes will be made. We've definitely learned some lessons from our first go at starting seeds. The most important lesson is the shear joy we both get from watching seeds spring to life.

A little over a week and a half ago we started up our first seed tray, and it's gone well though far from perfect. I decided to pickup a couple of Burpee's Ultimate Home Growing Systems because the allure of just having to top off a reservoir of water once a week or so was too strong to not try it. The seedling kits were a present to myself, Michelle had bought me a Grow Shelf for my 30th birthday. I had contemplated attempting to build my own grow-light shelf system, but I was very happy to have a kit to assemble. It fits nicely in the corner of our sunny living room.

We started our first batch of seedlings a couple weeks earlier than we probably should have mostly to allow time for a round of failures. Luckily our success rate seems to be better than 0% on this first go. I did learn that as ready to go as the Burpee trays look they need a good round of cleanup first before they're ready for action.A couple dry cells in the first batch baffled me, until I started on the second tray and realized how many of the plastic holes that had been punched in the bottom of each cell were still in place.

I made sure to punch out all of the plastic holes on the second tray, so hopefully there will be no watering failures. The whole water reservoir did get me thinking of how expensive the seedling heating pads are, and how a small 50 watt fish tank heater could easily do the same job for a tray. For the second batch I decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go with the (submersible)heater set to keep the water at 78 degrees. I was worried about direct contact between the heating element and the plastic so I wrapped the bottom in aluminum foil to prevent direct contact. I'll let you know if it melts through the bottom.

The new tray is seeded and ready for growing, so I'm hoping the heating helps speed things along and nothing goes catastrophically wrong.

Michelle took a couple pictures of me seeding the new tray. It would probably be easier to do this on a table, but despite being 30 and 6'4" I can still curl up into a ball so I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Though I might look deadly serious, I was finding playing in the dirt while there is still snow on the ground outside to be childishly delightful.

Since I only have one heater I'm going to try to keep day by day pictures of the heated tray for comparison with the unheated tray when we transplant out the first batch to larger containers. The various incarnations of those larger containers will be enough material for several future posts. Recycling at its best!

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