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Profusion of parsley

Parsley

Parsley has been in trays for just over three weeks now. Like everything under fluorescents, they stretch, but do fine when eventually they make it out to the real light. So far this year, two varieties, Green River curly and a flat-leaf Italian (definitely stronger and more flavorful than the curly types). There are around 70 cells of each, some with two or three plants, others with just one. Potted up into three-plant bunches, there should be about 50 of each going into the ground in late April-early May.

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Monitoring spring melt-off

Barn roof melt-off

When the base layer of ice and snow finally slides off the roof of the barn, Spring Melt-off is truly underway! This sheltered east-facing roof is the official monitoring device. Without much snow build-up this winter, the satisfying crash of massive slabs falling 40 feet to the ground was absent. Still, a good deal of icy snow cleared in the last 24 hours, and warm weather is forecast for the next few days at least. Excellent! (Guest snapshot by C.)

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Grow racks in action

Grow racks

The grow racks are starting to fill up. First trays of eggplant and peppers, seeded yesterday, sit up top where it’s warmest. The lights run 14-hours a day, on a timer, with an extra hour or so of early morning ambient sunlight from windows on three sides of the room.

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Seed starting station

Seedling station

The seedling workstation… This high and narrow table is where I put seeds in cellpaks. The triple sink, a leftover from the dairy days when this was the sterile milk collection room, work out well for seed-starting, with all of the soaking, rinsing and draining involved. Today, the first eggplant and peppers.

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New rack ready to roll!

New grow rack

The new grow rack, lined up with its brothers, ready to go to work. The carpentry’s real rough, but it’s sturdy and tried-and-true functional. The addition of 3″ casters has created an unexpected PLUS: when the racks are rolled together, the overall light from the fluorescents spills across the shelves, giving a little more to the plants on the outer edges of the trays. This is good! There is a fairly big difference in early seedling growth from being even a couple of inches further from the lights. (Before, moving the racks around was a pain, and you need to get at both sides quite regularly for watering, rotating trays, generally checking things out. Yay for wheels!) In the end, most things even out, but you take every edge you can get and…they do add up!

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Raw materials

Grow rack parts

The materials for building a new grow rack just arrived. With this one, there’ll be three in all. It’s a bit a of milestone. I’ve used just two racks, built from ridiculously warped wood, to start literally thousands of seedlings over the last four years. Adding one more means a huge jump in production capacity. Well, 50% more, to be exact… Here we have wood, wheels (casters are a new addition this year for all racks), chain and dowels for hanging the lights. Cut up, screw together, add fluorescents…dead easy! And needed in the next few days when seed starting begins in earnest.

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