my good friend dirtynailz is off doing non-bloggy things right now, and handed me the keys to the place, so i thought i’d just jump right in.
i’ve recently attended some workshops and lectures on seed starting, and i wanted to share. now, i know what you’re saying… “but auntie, don’t you already know everything there is to know about seed starting?” and yes, while it’s true i do know practically everything there is to know about starting seeds, that doesn’t mean an old auntie can’t learn a new trick or two! and because i am just that kind of person, i thought i’d talk about some of the new tips and tricks i learned recently.
this one has me particularly excited, and strangely enough, it was something talked about at more than one of the workshops/lectures i attended. one of the problems i always seem to have with small seedlings is not enough light. this little trick, using aluminum trays instead of seed flats, is sheer genius!
the aluminum reflects back lots of that light that otherwise goes to waste. it’s like having extra lighting without the electricity. i ran right out (as you can see) and grabbed some aluminum steam table trays at bj’s wholesale club. a lot of trays. at first i thought i might try just lining the seed flats with aluminum foil, but then i decided that the higher sides of the steam table trays would provide more benefit. i’ll let you know how it works out.
the second trick is something that’s not exactly new to me—it’s just something that i hadn’t considered using as extensively as the person giving the lecture suggested, and that is pre-sprouting seeds. while i’ve pre-sprouted peas and pumpkins, this person also pre-sprouts almost every vegetable seed it’s practical to try, including peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, kale… any seed big enough to handle. auntie is going to pre-sprout her tomato seeds first thing tomorrow. i will post pictures and let you all know how this also works out.
and in light of herbdoc’s post, below, and speaking of letting you know how things work out, well, usually auntie is simply too well-bred to gloat, but she can’t help but feel a teeny bit smug about this:
why, what’s that you see? a pea plant? on march 28th? yes, it’s true! my peas have germinated and are up. so my mad experimental planting on february 17th was a total success!
I read something recently about using these trays, too. (Can’t remember where, though.) The article said that you can poke a few holes in the plastic tops that come with some of these trays and turn them into mini-greenhouses of a sort.
saw those kind of trays at bj’s, too. thought about it for a bit, but decided what i needed most was light. couldn’t see the benefit of the clear plastic cover beyond seed starting, and what with trying the pre-sprouting method, didn’t think i’d need them for that, either. and because it was bj’s, i’d’ve had to buy 7,000 extra clear plastic covers…
I love the idea of using the aluminum pans for more light! Why do I keep thinking of Paulie on the Sopranos? 🙂 Glad your early planting of peas worked out! Mine are in now, and I think it will be interesting to see if yours fruit a month earlier or not. Do you know if they all germinated or was it spotty? To tell you the truth I have no idea what the soil temp was in February; I just never thought of trying to plant so early!
yes, i loved the idea, too, which was why i ran right out to try it. seems to be, at this early stage, quite effective. i’m impressed by how dark and green and stocky the seedlings look.
and if i had to guess, i’d say i got about 70% germination on my peas. i’m very pleased with that! but you’re probably right, i won’t get too much of head start on the season, because i’m sure the best growth won’t happen till the optimum temperature, not to mention, day length. but it was just too tempting not to try!