After spending January pouring through seed catalogs and making my choices, I arrived at a decision. Yes, I will start seeds inside this winter, last year’s debacle notwithstanding! My problem? I didn’t want to end up in the garage on a single shelf, in a too-cold space, and insufficient light.
To the rescue – gardening and hydroponic supply companies. But good grief, the cost to set up even a small growing station in my basement! I needed to find an inexpensive solution for both shelving and lighting.
This is the result. For less than half the cost of the least expensive ‘catalog’ option, I have a solution that seems to work. Never mind the pain involved in selecting lights. I spent a long weekend reading articles about LED vs. florescent lights, foot-candles, and lumens.
I read a lot of frankly conflicting information. The article I found most helpful came from the Alaska Extension. Simply put, the article suggested that using florescent lights worked as well as anything and cost less than specialized plant lights. For those who want more information, an in-depth article is available from the University of Missouri Extension.
Once we set up our shelving and lights – available from a local big box store – I had a minor meltdown over trays. I’m starting seeds in my basement with the proviso that there be no mess, which made waterproof trays essential. I finally found some locally but again, costing more than I wanted to spend. Amazon to the rescue! Ten trays for a couple of dollars each. Nice!
I mixed up a batch of chamomile tea for watering and put some lettuce seeds in soil rather than seed starter. I have a theory – as yet untested – that since I direct sow in the ground, in soil, I don’t need the added step of seed starter. Makes sense? And it seems to be working. Here’s the start of my early salad.
I’m waiting for more seed packets to arrive by mail. And I feel like no matter what the calendar says, spring has begun.