Seed Starting version 2022.
There is a painful time early in the season when we have to heat up the entire greenhouse all night long for just a few flats of seedlings. The propane bill is not small. Not only is the structure entirely uninsulated, but it is also a largish space. In those first weeks, there are really only a few trays of early seedlings, but some of them are nightshades like Tomatoes and Peppers that need a very warm environment. On top of that, those first few weeks are also the coldest weeks of the seed starting period. All that heating just doesn't seem right.
So this year, we decided to take the early stage seed starting indoors!
This year we are starting all our first plants in our basement under lights. Yes, that does require energy, but with modern LED grow lights, its not terrible and it is certainly less than the energy required to heat the entire greenhouse through the night.
Of course, this set up will only be temporary. The space is a bit cramped to start with and the logistics have challenges. But if we can just make it work for a few weeks while there are only a few trays, we stand to save significant energy costs. We'll see how I feel about it later on when I am trying to water everything without making a mess and an running out of space under the lights. It could get a bit chaotic...
I think our setup is pretty good though. Its not unlike the setups many people use to grow indoor micro-greens. I've never personally been into eating micro-greens so I have never grown them. But maybe now that we have this space and equipment it is something we could dabble with in the winters. Fresh greens in the winter are always nice. And we DO want to always be moving towards a full diet and year round food producing farm. After all, we do eat all year...
Below are some pictures of our new setup. More to follow.
Simple bakers rack with heat-mats for perfect germination and hanging strips of full spectrum LED lights.
The potting soil was frozen! so we popped it on the heat mats for a few hours and it softened up!
We don't typically use solid bottom trays but in this case they are essential for tidy watering--just add water to the tray and let the plants absorb it from the bottom--no splashing or dripping!
And in case you were wondering, here is the lonely greenhouse--check out those piles of snow on the sides! Winter ain't over yet!
Stay tuned for more pictures as the first plants pop up!