Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Garden Construction

I woke up thinking about that frog-pond. So, well, I started digging. Now we have a frog-pond.

The little sapling in the picture is a witchhazel. Across the tiny pond from the big rock is a pile of displaced decaying organic matter, which I topped with moss and a mushroom-covered chunk of old tree. I also attempted t transplant a few skunk cabbages into it, but I suspect they won’t take well to being dug up. Most of the displaced skunk cabbage I just hacked out of the muck and chucked farther into the woods. I hate to kill it, but there is no shortage of it here, and when the rest grows in around this little puddle it’s going to look like tropical dinosaur land from this rock!

I moved many buckets of the thick black muck to a couple of locations along my path, to form beds for a few plants I ordered. Last week on a whim I ordered three American bittersweet vines, to provide berries for the birds; a mountain laurel, a couple of mayflowers, and a couple of trilliums – all pretty natives. Now I have a place to put them!

I also ordered ramp seeds from Ramp Farm. Ramps are a native onion, reportedly similar to leeks. The photo of the sign at Ramp Farm shows a cluster of ramps and jack-in-the-pulpit. Since jack-in-the-pulpit already seems to find our shady spaces delightful, I’m guessing ramps will grow here well, too. The only drawback: it takes a warm season, followed by a cold season, to get ramps to germinate from seed, and after that it’ll still be a couple of years before they can be harvested. And even then I’ll want to leave most of them in the ground to let them form a sustainable colony.

Chris has correctly called me a plant addict.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Garden Construction

Chris and I have only one real shovel between the two of us, which means that when one of us digs, the other has got to find something else to do. Chris was in a real digging mood today, so I started investigating the possibility of making a path down to the swamp. Chris obliged me by bringing wheel-barrows full of sand. I trimmed the plants, raked the sand around, and placed those slates that I had previously found stacked in the woods. And now we have a path!

It isn’t a long path, but it cuts through an area that was formerly mushy, and that will be dense with tick-infested foliage in another month. It ends perfectly on a large, flat rock that has the Indian pipe bed on one side, and deep mush on the other. This means that I will have safe access to my swamp come summer, hooray!

For now though, it looks like an ugly scar through the woods. I’ll still have some trimming and planting and poison-ivy removal to do, but I think the area will naturalize beautifully into a secret green niche. Perhaps later I’ll even shovel out a little of the marsh around the rock to make a frog-pond.

I also spent some time moving rocks and sand about other parts of the yard. The giant sand-heap is now looking a little like the raised bed that it will eventually become, and the drainage ditch at the end of the driveway is finished, if still dirty-looking. It also seems to function as intended; which is to say our driveway did not look like Lake Michigan during the last rain.

More Skunk Cabbage

It was impossible to make a path to the swamp without killing a few skunk cabbages. After accidentally, and then deliberately stepping on the ones that were in my way, I finally dig one up to get a look at the whole plant.

Everything below the (slightly crushed) blossom was underground. The roots, or what of them I was able to pull up with the plant, have a wonderfully wormy look to them.

Having stomped and then handled the plant, I finally got a whiff of the odor that gives the plant its name. It does indeed small of skunk when damaged. And it certainly does not smell like food. Which is why I find this article so entertaining.

Here are a few more images, showing the skunk cabbage flower hood partially peeled away, and then the flower with the hood removed entirely. The interior of the hood was dry and dusted with pollen.

The Rock is as Big as You Are, Chris.

It’s not going anywhere, Chris. Yes, I am impressed that you made it move, Chris. But I won’t be impressed if it rolls on top of you and kills you, Chris.

Being both a Manly Man and a kind spirit, when one of the neighborhood kids came by asking if we had any old bird-nests about that she could use for a school project, Chris pulled out the ladder and went up a tree to fetch her one.

I love my Chris!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Review: Burpee Ultimate Growing System

The Burpee Ultimate Growing System

Workmanship - 3 of 5
Usability - 3 of 5
Results - 2 of 5
Recommendation - If you over water, or just plain forget to water this system can can solve that problem. If you don't have problems with watering then there are plenty of better options.

The general design of the system is solid. The self watering setup works well to keep all of the cells moist but not wet. I lost no seedlings to damping off. I had issues with the holes punched out of the bottom of each cell. Namely the holes were still attached or in some cases piled up in the end cells. You must be sure to properly clear all of the plastic circles out of the cells in order to ensure proper water flow. The plastic is very thin and flimsy overall. Being very careful I was able to extract all of my seedlings without major damage, so I'll get at least two uses out of it. Still I don't expect all that many more.

Once you get past the initial setup issues the system has very little maintenance, which is really its biggest win. For those of us who spend our days on the road to work, at work, or on the way back from work the system makes it easy to keep seedlings properly watered. Moving the unit once it is in place, however, is not an option. The plastic reservoir is far to flimsy to support such a move. Actually filling the reservoir is a challenge too, until you realize that you can just pull the wall down to dump in water. A small advantage to the thin plastic. Extracting the plants from the cells is also quite a challenge. If you poke up through the hole in the bottom with a dowel the starting mix crumbles and roots tear leaving you with damaged weakened or dead seedlings. For sturdy seedlings a mix of push from beneath and pull on the stem will work, but risks a catastrophic stem failure.

In the end I found a push from the bottom with my pinky finger while extracting the seedling with a table fork worked best to keep the root systems in tack. The cell tray does come apart with a little help from some scissors, and I suggest you separate them before you start to make seedling removal easier.

I was very disappointed with the results I achieved from my initial tray. Assuming the holes in the cells would be clear was a major mistake causing a number of them to dry out, preventing germination. Initial trouble removing the seedlings that did germinate left some growing wounded. From the initial batch I achieved a germination rate of around 70% which is far lower than I would have expected. While the reservoir of water works well at providing moisture it also acts like a small swamp cooler Even though the room temperature was 70F during the day, the tray of water averaged about 5 degrees cooler around 65F. At night when the room fell to 55F with the heat off the water would dip to around 50F and really shut down germination.

Water Heater
For the second batch of seedlings I ended up placing a submersible fish tank water heater in the reservoir and setting it to 76F. This kept the soil at 70F even during the night when the room temperature dropped. The germination rate on this tray was 100%, and with all of the plastic circles removed from the holes everything had the right amount of moisture. In the end I was happy with the results of the second tray.

Final Thoughts
I'd get fired if I was in Burpee marketing, but I'd call this the Ultimate Watering System for people who like to drown their plants at a young age or leave them unsupervised for days at a time. The general concept can be applied to any sort of reservoir mixed with an uptake material and container with holes on the bottom and I may explore replicating it with sturdier materials. If you solve the heat problem then I think this is a very viable way to start your garden, just not the most economical.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Blueberry Cuttings are Showing Signs of Life!

On the ninth of this month I took cuttings of some wild blueberry bushes. Today, the buds are swelling, and one has opened a leaf! I never really expected the twigs to do anything but rot. This is so exciting!

The cuttings I took were about six inches long, taken from the tips of woody or partially-woody branches. With a knife I scraped the bark off an inch or two of the outer bark on one side of the clipped end. Once cut, they went into a cup of water while I finished setting everything up.

My soil mix was about half sand – dug from our yard. The other half was a sloppy mixture of grass-starting soil and seed-starting soil. I wetted this mix down in a bucket and then filled two of my milk-gallon greenhouses with it. I made holes in the dirt with a pencil, and then let Chris dunk the cuttings into rooting hormone and stick them into the holes. (I’m pregnant, and there were a lot of warnings on the hormone package.) I sealed up the jugs, and placed one in the sunny window, and one nearby, out of the direct sun, for comparison.

Belatedly I realized that neither of us had bothered to “tuck in” the soil tightly around the twigs. Oh well!

Thirty twigs came home with me from my walk in the woods. About twenty-five of them passed inspection for cuttings – the rest were dead and dry. Of those, sixteen are now showing signs of life. The milk jug placed in the sunny window is showing more twigs with growth, and the buds are larger. The one emerged leaf is in that jug. I have moved both jugs into the window since that seems to be the best location.

One site I read said that even in commercial lowbrush-blueberry cultivation, only about 50% of the cuttings can be expected to survive. I suppose I’ve still got time to kill these plants, but so far the results are so exciting that I’m pondering what else I could take cuttings of. Hmm. . . I know where to find crab-apple and winterberry. And the neighbors might not mind if I took cuttings of their apple and peach trees. . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Draba Verna, a.k.a. Whitlow Grass

Yes, this plant is sitting in a tea spoon! They’re all over around work, growing in the pathetic sandy edges of the grassy spaces, blooming by the thousand and getting stepped on. I carried this around the office today, showing people that spring is here.

I don’t know yet if Whitlow grass is native or not. The USDA says it isn’t, but wikipedia says it might be.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Catastrophic failure my ass! My drainage trench is not only functional, but trendy. I’ll post a picture when it is finished and the rain has washed it clean. We may have to excavate more rocks first, however.

The sand and rock may be inappropriate for the bottom of a vegetable bed, but we have found great uses for them both, so digging the beds are like digging for gold. Big rocks are for showy walls; the sand is for the new little hill we’re building at the edge of the woods, and for lining my drainage trench, and the smaller-than-potato-sized rocks are for the top of the trench.

In other news, the deer ticks are already active. On Friday night I went to scratch and itch on my back and ended up with a tick between my fingers. I think it may have been biting me, but it wasn’t engorged yet, which means I should be safe from Lyme’s disease this time.

So that’s it for my playing in the woods until next winter. And I had better get used to wearing tick repellant. As an additional precaution I trimmed the low branches from the pine that I bump into every time I unload rocks and sand from the wheelbarrow.

The skunk cabbage blooms are all over the swamp now. Under a rock I found a cricket today. In downtown Norwood Chris and I had a close encounter with an entire flock of cedar waxwings that were eating the shriveled berries from a tree in front of the bank. It snowed while Mom was visiting this weekend, but just long enough to look like a snow-globe. Oh, and Mom took one look at my transplanted lilies and said “irises”! Which would be awesome – I love irises. I feel silly for not considering the possibility, and I hope I didn’t transplant them to unsuitably dry locations.

On the ninth I started wild blueberry cuttings in milk-jug greenhouses. We’ll see how those fare.

I have no good pictures from today, so instead, here is the unexpected visitor to our bird feeder who stopped by during the heavy snows before Christmas.

Strange Grub

I think pretty much everyone knows what the standard June bug grub looks like, and we found plenty of them today. Enough to fill up a small bowl we've left out for the bird. Among the usual fair we also found these strange looking fellows. If nothing else they actually look kind of mean. I'll have to log some net time trying to figure out what kind of grub they are.

The Pea Towers

I spent about four hours this afternoon excavating grass and the topsoil underneath from other future beds in the garden and transporting it to the pea bed. Once I filled it up I put together the pea towers and started to weave the twine for the peas to climb. Overall it was a fairly awkward procedure, and with the weather hovering just above freezing and the wind chill making it feel just below it seemed to take forever. By the time I was done after about an hour I really missed the warmth I generate while digging.

We've got a fairly long and wide driveway that points directly at our garden, as you can see above. This means when it rains there is a lot of water running down at the garden, looking to carve nice little ditches through it.

To help mitigate this we've started a drainage trench that will eventually run the length of the driveway, and then down through the garden. This should help channel the water to where we want it to go. Well at least channel it a little, and hopefully water the garden some in the process. The trench is essentially loose sand on the bottom and rocks on top. Look for a future post documenting a catastrophic failure.

When it was all said and done I was well spent, and took a break on the blacktop trying to stretch out my back and soak up what little heat I could from the sun. It was a good day in the garden with progress made on multiple different projects. We've still got around eight weeks until we start transplanting in seedlings, and if we can keep up the pace we've set I think we'll have everything prepared by then.


Michelle found a large one, and I found a smaller one of these little buggers this afternoon. I'm pretty sure they are cutworms, but I can't figure out exactly what kind. I know last year my peppers and basil took a beating at night, and I think these guys may be to blame.

Therevid larva

I discovered about a half dozen of these little guys while I was collecting topsoil for the pea bed this afternoon. I think they are Potworms, but I'm not 100% sure.

Update: Further research seems to point towards these being Therevid Larva and not potworms.

Update 4-9-09

This year I was able to take pictures with out new Macro lens and confirm that these are Therevid Larva. These thin white worm like larva move much more quickly that you'd expect and when you pick them up they actually feel strong. I always get the feeling they'd burrow into me if they had a chance which wigs me out a bit. Knowing what they are they are officially off my "kill" list of harmful insects. According to research these guys will hunt down earth worms and other beneficials, as well as harmful buggers like grubs. Any "neutral" bug such as this or a praying mantis gets put on the live and let live list.

They grow up to be Stilleto flies, of which little is known.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jumping the Gun

As I look at the calendar and then survey my seedlings it becomes readily apparent that I started up the first seedlings way to early. I don't really regret starting them early as I've already learned a lot from this first bunch. The clearest problem with starting a seedling flat with all sorts of different seeds from Cucumbers and Squash to Tomatoes and Basil is keeping the lights a couple inches above the seedlings. With things growing at such different speeds mixed flats invariably are too high above or too close to the various seedlings. Still the tomato seedlings are doing very well.

As early spring pushes on my desire to expand the types of tomatoes I'm going to grow this year has grown exponentially. I've ordered some more seeds, and have been given some seeds. The full list of varieties is as follows.

Black Cherry
Black Crimson
Cherokee Purple
Italian Tree
Tommy Toe
Bloody Butcher - (I couldn't resist the name)
Sweet Baby Girl
Aunt Gerties Gold
Yellow Brandywine

With the expansion of so many different types it means I'm going to have to limit the number of each type to 2-4 or expand the garden more. Since we haven't finished the originally planned garden yet, its hard to think of expanding on the original plan. I guess that means I'm going to have to find homes for some of my seedlings.

Still we've been busy and the pea bed is fully excavated and is nearly ready for the peas to go into it. We just need to start on the next section so we can use the topsoil from it to fully fill in the pea bed. I filled up most of it this afternoon with 2cu ft bags of compost+soil from Home Depot. With the local places not delivering loam yet its the only options if we want to get our peas in on time. Those bags are heavy for me to move myself, but I managed.

We found plenty of large rocks as we dug out the pea bed. I'm very confident that by the time the garden is done we're going the have enough for a small castle.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring is Here!

It’s a beautiful rainy weekend. The piles of snow in the parking lots are dwindling away. For the second weekend in a row I hit up Starbucks for grounds, but it was too early in the day. They never seem to know when their official grounds program starts, but the folks running the bar waffled something about “when Spring comes” (to which I smiled, and pointed out that Spring started a week ago) and “when the snow melts”. (Dude, have you looked out the window lately?)

I’ll just keep going back until their boss says go.

I can’t blame them for not realizing that Spring has come. . . just yesterday the ground was frozen, and until I went looking, I couldn’t see any signs of Spring, either. But with a little peeking the evidence was all over. Here’s a sample:

My garlic has popped up! I stuffed a few leftover cloves in the ground last Autumn, and poof!

The yarrow is putting out new growth. These were weeds from our so-called lawn which I transplanted into a bed last year. I hope it’s a native variety.

Some sort of moss at the edge of the woods is growing like mad with all this glorious wet weather.

Under a protective layer of fallen leaves, the obediant plant is sprouting. I’m ambivalent about this plant, seeing as it is anything but obedient, and will eventually have to be beaten back with a stick; but any new green is a pleasure right now!

The lilies are poking up! Last year the blossoms were spent and the foliage saggy by the time we moved in, so I don’t yet know what sort of lilies these are. But there are an abundance of them around the shed, so today I dug up a bunch of the tubers and transplanted them up front. (I like to tell myself that I was rescuing them from being mangled by the shed door, or being lost in the bramble of other plants behind the shed, where they won’t be appreciated.) But mostly I just wanted to play in the yard.

While removing garbage from the witchhazel patch, I found a tape measure, a baseball, a large sheet of plastic, and an entire stack of slate stepping-stones, which I pulled out from beneath ten-year’s growth of tree roots one after the other, like nested Russian dolls.

Bearberry, a.k.a. Kinnikinnick, a.k.a. Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi


These are low-growing, full-sun evergreen bushes native to Massachusetts. They have small, pink flowers in the Spring, and red berries in the Fall.

I bought two bearberries last year from Garden in the Woods for my dry and sunny front yard. They didn’t do much over the summer, and over the winter the color darkened to the point that I feared they were dying. But behold, they are now covered in tiny pink buds! I would love for these to cover swaths of the front yard that are currently a wasteland of mulch. As far as I am concerned, visible mulch is wasted space.

If I get any berries from the two bearberries, I’ll try to grow new plants from the seeds. However, according to the Native Plant Network, they take a year to go from seed to seedling, so I’ll have to be patient!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

In Hot Water

The fish tank heater has been an absolutely amazing success. The biggest problem we've encountered is the Winter Squash seeds germinated so violently that I had to transplant them into larger containers after just five days. Nearly everything has germinated by day five, with a couple empty cells that might just be duds or germinating at a slower pace.

I don't think any of my pictures demonstrates the effectiveness of the heating better than this picture of our cucumber seedlings. The heater is on the right hand side of the water reservoir, and the lack of water circulation means that side of the tank is hotter and the soil above is also a degree or two hotter on the right. This lead to the seedlings sprouting to form a 'more bars' commercial picture. This pattern was reflected in the Brandywine tomato seedlings as well. The next improvement would be something to circulate the water to keep the heating more even.

Winter Squash Day 3

Winter Squash Day 4

Winter Squash Day 5

Winter Squash Day 6

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Poison Ivy Removal

I wrote this up for GardenWeb; I might as well post it here, too.

I am in the process of eradicating poison ivy from my yard. It will take a few years, but I’ve made significant progress.

I do my removal by wearing plastic bags up my arms, held on with rubber bands. Over that, I wear two layers of latex gloves. (Garden gloves under latex gloves might be an even better idea.) Aside from that I work in long pants, grubby tee-shirt, and old shoes, which would be inadequate if I rolled around in the poison ivy - but I work delicately so as not to have the plant touch any of my clothing. (A previous attempt taught me that the oils will soak through cloth, particularly when sweat is involved.)

I rip the plant from the ground down to the last root, as far as possible. Either my husband follows me around with a trash can, or I leave the whole plant in the woods in a place I know nobody will walk, exposed to the air to die and rot in place. Vines running up trees get snipped with clippers and left to die on the tree. The clippers never get handled with bare hands when used elsewhere in the garden.

I only do this for about half an hour before running for the shower. My husband acts as my spotter, to open doors and help me get my clothes in the wash without touching anything. The shoes live in the garage, and are only used with care for yard-work.

The later in the season, the less potent the poison ivy is; and also the cooler the weather, the less chance I have of producing sweat that could cause the urushiol to soak through my cloths, so I see this as being safest during the autumn. I’ve even pulled the roots by feel after the leaves have all dropped off for the season. (They are shallow, hairy, and brittle.)

I am particularly sensitive to urushiol – mangoes and cashews cause me to break out in a similar rash – so I’m decidedly not casual about this poison-ivy-killing business. This has been a learning process for me, and I have had a number of rashes to tell me how I’ve made mistakes. My biggest mistakes were these:

Underestimating how nasty poison ivy is. I once stomped a tiny shoot with my shoe, and later handled that shoe bare-handed and then picked my nose. The result was as plain as the nose on my face. :)

Overestimating the effectiveness of latex gloves and plastic bags. A very small tear, combined with a lot of sweat, caused my husband to have some very large rashes.

Letting the torn vines freely touch my clothing. Vines will suddenly lose their grip on the ground and lash at you, so pull carefully. Consider your clothes contaminated from the moment you start pulling, but still pull gently to minimize contact.

Scratching my sweaty skin with my contaminated garden gloves through my clothing. Teamed up with profuse sweat and repeated exposures over the course of an hour, I had one large rash from neck to knees from that mistake. Once your hands are contaminated, do not touch anything but poison ivy plants.

“I’m already exposed, so I might as well keep going.” As soon as I catch myself thinking this, I know it is time to hit the shower.

Not scrubbing enough in the shower. This stuff needs to be ground off the skin as if it were motor oil or oil paint. It doesn’t help that it is entirely invisible! Scrub until you think you are clean. Then repeat. And maybe repeat again.

Not scrubbing my entire body thoroughly. I got it on the back of my neck once because in the shower, once, I was careful to scrub where I was exposed, but only washed the back of my neck casually before my hands were adequately clean. That casual washing served only to spread the oil to the back of my neck.

It takes about a week for me to develop a rash when I am exposed – but I have discovered that a particularly bad rash will develop sooner. If you start developing a rash within 24 hours, call your doctor.

The rashes don’t spread by being scratched, because by the time there is a rash, the urushiol has long since soaked in. However, sometimes the itch will precede noticeable blisters, so it may appear that the scratching is causing the rash.

Popping the blisters hurts like hell but seems to make them go away more quickly.

Ice helps keep the itch down. A soak in a very hot shower will cause the itch to intensify – and then go down to a bare minimum for some hours. (A hot hair dryer can also be used to this purpose.)

Before deliberately tangling with poison ivy, stock up with anti-itch remedies, rolls of bandages, and tape.

One last note – if you have never tangled with poison ivy (or poison oak, or poison sumac) before, but are contemplating doing so, or you are contemplating working in an area that you know to be hosting the plant, I suggest two things. First, learn too identify the plant so well that you can spot it even when driving by in a car. (If you can spot it from a car, you are never likely to look down and realize belatedly that you are standing in the stuff.) Also learn to tell the difference between the plant and similar plants that grow in the same habitat. For instance, poison ivy often grown in the company of jack-in-the-pulpit and Virginia creeper, and poison sumac looks a bit like staghorn sumac.

Second, do a test to find out your tolerance level, to know what you are in for when you make a mistake. (And I did say “when”, not “if”.) To do this, using latex gloves, snap a leaf off of a poison ivy vine. Dab one tiny dot of the sap on the skin of your ankle, or other out-of-the-way spot. Leave the sap to dry. Circle the location with a marker. Keep track of how long it takes a rash to develop, and how big the rash gets.

The last time I tried this was with a pinhead of poison sumac sap. The sap turned black by the second day. It took about half a week for the rash to start to appear, and after about two weeks the rash was at its peak, dense with little bubbles and as big around as a silver dollar.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Party Clean-Up Made Fun

Chris’ 30th birthday yesterday we threw him a big Rock-Band party, with lots of guests. Since I’m pregnant I didn’t get to enjoy the tasty beverages, but on the plus side I woke up early and perky. So I got to work cleaning up the plates and bottles.

We’d resorted to paper plates and napkins after the regular ones ran out. I tore them to bits and set them soaking in the leftover beer. Then I reduced the pizza boxes to confetti and set them soaking in flat Dr. Pepper. And for jollies I dropped by Starbucks, and they were happy to send me home with used coffee grounds along with a latte. Took that, and the leftover fruit peelings and pistachio shells and whatnot, and buried it all under leaves in the compost heap. And by that time the glorious sun had thawed the ground enough to get on with the digging I’d been waiting to do.

That’s the most fun I’ve ever had in cleaning up after a party, and on top of that it was worth the giant “thank you!” I got from my hung-over Chris when he didn’t have to face the previous day’s lingering smells!

I’m used to hauling out full bags of trash after parties like this. But this time, the amount of garbage in the trash can didn’t even noticeably increase. Between our town’s generous recycling program and our composting, Chris and I generate about one tall kitchen bag of trash every two weeks!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Indian Pipe? Monotropa Uniflora

Dare I hope? When browsing the gorgeous photos at this website, I idled through the photos of Indian Pipe. I came to the photos of its seed pods and stopped in my tracks. I’ve seen those pods before. . . in the back yard!

I think this is Indian Pipe. But I hesitate to say it actually is, because I so much want it to be.

What makes Indian pipe so cool? For one it’s rare. For another, it looks like some kind of mushroom. But it actually is a plant that lacks chlorophyll. Instead of feeding on sunlight, it is a parasite that feeds off of some sort of fungus that in turn lives in symbiosis with particular types of tree roots. In other words, even if I were able to acquire seeds, there is no chance that I could plant this stuff and expect it to grow.

I will be eagerly watching for signs of mysterious white sprouts in the summer!

Water Heater

While it is to soon to tell if it will work long term the overnight results of the fish tank water heater seem to be positive. I've been keeping the front room around 70F at night but I think it gets cooler in that corner since the thermometer for the room is further into the house. I think my Bloody Butcher Tomato seeds have been so slow to germinate because the soil just isn't hot enough.

As of this morning
Unheated Flat Water Temp: 65F
Unheated Flat Soil Temp: 66F
Heated Flat Water Temp: 76F
Heated Flat Soil Temp: 70F

Soon enough the front room will be getting into the 80s during the day as it really heats up in direct sun. Even during the winter it gets into the low 70s without the heat on. For now though the little fish tank heater that could may have to be the solution for seeds that won't germinate when it is too cold as cranking the house heat up isn't an economical solution.