Just over two weeks ago, I tucked my first garden seeds into the dirt. Specifically, I sowed pepper and eggplant seeds, and then as long as I was sowing, I added some brassicas- some broccoli, cabbage and kale.
For Christmas this past year, I was gifted with a heat mat for starting seeds. I couldn’t wait to use it! I put my seeds in my seed starting mix and set it on top of the mat. About four days later I discovered my first sprouts. The brassicas were popping up all over, but it quickly became clear that just using the heat mat was not going to cut it. The sprouts were a sickly yellow color, and every single one was reaching towards the window way on the other side of the room. I needed a light. Andy quickly dug one out and we added an overhead light to the seed starting set up. Here it is in action, tucked onto my storage shelves in the laundry room.
This is working perfectly! The heat from below is encouraging the seeds to pop, and the light above is giving them something to reach towards. Once the seeds were sprouting, my thoughts quickly turned to panic, as I realized I had no where to put my potted up seedlings. We’d been talking for months about where the seedlings were going to be pampered, but hadn’t really decided on a spot, nor had we purchased any shelving to utilize any of these spots.
One day, on a whim, I surveyed my tiny house and decided that there was a corner of the kitchen that could be repurposed. I shuffled stuff around all afternoon, but when all was said and done, I had a rather large spot that could house a set of shelves. Since my other spot was carpeted, and I’ve dealt with escaping plants before, having my plants growing on a hard floor seemed the better idea. So I cleared my spot, showed my husband, and then left for a weekend away with the kids.
Upon my return, I found that Andy had purchased a massive set of shelves and found some lights to put on it. This was definitely a bigger shelving unit than I’d been planning, but honestly, it made me excited to fill it with plants! I quickly assessed my sprouting shelf and discovered that I’d actually waited too long. Most of the brassicas had keeled over while we were away, but there were some Mammoth Giant Jalapeno sprouts curling under the plastic dome and wanting out. Here’s my shelf in action.
To give you an idea of scale, there are about 70 plants on that top shelf, and there is still room for more! I love these shelves!
Over the course of this week, I’ve potted up a good many of my peppers and eggplant. Yesterday I did the bulk of them, and today I see just how happy my plants are to be out of confinement. I only have one Bulgarian Carrot pepper this morning that looks like its not going to make it. Here’s a close up of the top shelf:
A beautiful bonus about putting this shelf where we did is that we do not need to worry about air circulation. I’ve had years in the past where I’ve lost a good deal of my plants to damping off. Not this year! I have a ceiling fan right by the shelves! I turned it on yesterday and watched my sproutlings move ever-so-gently in the breeze. Here is the side view of my shelves, you can see the light fixture attached to the fan:
My plants are very happy!
I still have about 20 or so peppers that need to be potted up after they’ve had a bit of growth, and then we move on the tomatoes. I’ve been playing around this year with following the recommendations for moon planting for my seeds. After several years of dismal gardening, THIS is the year, and I’ll take any nudge towards excellence that I can get. The moon calendar says that this coming Friday and Saturday is great for sowing tomato seeds- Friday more than Saturday, so that’s what I plan to do.
I am hoping the remaining pepper sprouts will have grown by then, because I’d like to use my little heat mat/light set up for the tomatoes and a second round of eggplants.
I’m making my list and checking it twice, because I’m very limited in my space and need to make the best possible decisions. Lists and varieties to come. And hopefully a lot of details as I work to make this year the best garden yet.