Started the first seeds of the year today: lettuce and arugula. At night, the grow racks remind me of a lab experiment, with the plugsheets in trays, carefully labelled and sheathed in plastic under the intense white light (fluorescents up close are pretty bright). And there’s the digital min/max thermometer, keeping score. The whole set-up looks like what it is. It’s great! In the beginning, I kind of obsessively (and largely unnecessarily) check every few hours to make sure the soil mix is sufficiently moist, the temperature is above 60°F, to see if anything’s emerged and it’s time to take off the plastic. Maybe after another five or 10 years, it will become simply routine, but for now, every single plant to emerge is still cool and exciting… For this, the earliest lettuce attempt yet, I’ve started five varieties, all with maturity dates of 50 days or less. There’s Simpson Elite (a really fast 40-day) and Two Stars, both green leaf, Granada and Red Salad Bowl, both red, and Sierra, which is red tinged. As a salad mix in any combination or all together, they’re a great blend of colors, textures and tastes. The arugula, Rocket and Skyrocket, intended for the mix, is faster growing than lettuce, but I felt like starting some now (I’ll start some more, later). If all goes well, these will hit the unheated greenhouse in the beginning of March, a good three weeks ahead of last year!