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sprouting day

the first tomato seedlings of 2010

60 days to tomatoes!

It's kind of amazing, seeing seeds sprout. Expected behavior, I know, but there's still something exciting about seeing the first green shoots pushing their way up through the soil—or, in this case, the soil-less medium. Even more exciting when they pop up ahead of schedule, like the tomatoes and onions I planted the other day.

Last year I was an overanxious seed-parent, checking multiple times a day to make sure my little babies were warm enough, and had enough water and enough light... That kind of attention turns out to be kind of unproductive when there's absolutely nothing to be seen. This season I took a more hands-off approach, so even though five days to sprouting is only one day quicker than last year, I was surprised and delighted to see almost all the seeds up when I poked my head in this morning.

Just like with Harvey, the reality of the little guys' presence spurred me to action and I made them a nice little house out of styrofoam, complete with an additional light fixture. My hope is that it will serve the dual purposes of keeping them warm—March is much colder than April down there in the basement—and providing a more diffuse light. Last year I had trouble with spindly seedlings, so we'll see if the new hardware helps. I also invested in a timer for the lights; it's all very exciting, though not cheap. You know what they say: you have to spend money to make plants.

There's room in the styrofoam house for several more trays than I've got in there now, so expect more seed reports in days to come! (once I figure out what the schedule should be, that is).

seedlings under the lights

warm and cozy


We got our first sprout today too, but just one little sprout. What is that cord coming out of your planter? And what do you mean by soil-less medium? What are you using?

Questions that should have been answered in my original post!

The cord is the thermometer for the heating mat, which is connected to the thermostat. In our cold basement we definitely need heating to get the seeds to germinate, and while you can use a heating mat without a thermostat having one means I don't have to worry about things being too cold or, alternately, drying out the plants or starting a fire.

I'm using Fafard extra-fine seed-starting mix in the trays: it's a mix of spagnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite. Now that I've read some more I'm kind of down on peat (it's not really a sustainable resource) but I bought a gigantic bag a couple years ago and I'm not even half-way through it now. It seems to work pretty well; except for the peppers last year nothing has had any trouble germinating, and we didn't lose any seedlings to damping-off or any similar infant plant plagues.

Congratulations on those first sprouts! The heating mat is a neat idea for those dealing in colder climates. Thanks for sharing that!

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