My little seed-starting operation is going gangbusters. Some of everything I planted germinated — including several varieties that didn’t come up last year. This unprecedented success was a nice surprise that meant running out of room sooner than expected. I hit the max (eight flats) earlier this month and would have been in trouble had all the coleus cuttings survived. Fortunately, warmer weather arrived before I had to expand to the kitchen table.
Making the most of the space I had was a challenge. Turning flats (from end-to-end to side-to-side) doubles capacity on the shelves but is less than optimal for lighting. Flats have to be rearranged every day to keep seedlings from leaning. The closer to the light, the better — hence the cardboard box.
The cold frame was empty when the Mercury dropped to 21 degrees. The high-low thermometer indicated the low inside th cold frame was only 35 so I moved out what I could. Even so, I kept half of the coleus and Wave petunias inside — just in case.
Three flats fit in the cold frame. Lettuce (far left) is almost big enough to plant out. The stock and black-eyed Susans (middle) were planted right after I took the picture. The coleus cuttings are still in the cold frame (far right), but the Wave petunias have since been planted out. New residents include the rest of the coleus cuttings and Wave petunias along with second plantings of Black-eyed Susans and stock.
The tiny seed of some varieties often come encased in something for ease of handling. My track record with these pelleted seed is abysmal. Algae covers the surface before seeds have a chance to come up. The cause: Excess moisture. The solution: Removing the dome for an hour or two every day. Not only did the two varieties I tried this year germinate, they came up much faster than the 21 days indicated on the seed packet.
I keep the flats covered until seed have sprouted. If necessary, I thin seedlings to one per cell. Once they come up, some varieties go to the cold frame until the seedlings grow large enough to plant in the garden. Others (like tomatoes and peppers) remain inside until the low temperature stays above 45 degrees or so.
A lack of space has temporarily halted any additional planting. The cold frame is full. Seedlings from indoors big enough to plant need to be “hardened off” in the cold frame for a few days before planting in the ground. Flats of marigolds (50 plants) and Pinwheel zinnias (50 plants) are waiting for space to open up.
More than a few varieties still need to be planted. The remaining seed is either fast-growing or prefers to be planted directly in the ground. I ordered a bunch of plants that are hard to grow from seed too. Finding a spot for everything may be a challenge. Avoiding impulse buys at garden centers in the weeks ahead may require an intervention. I’ll keep you posted.