Parsley, curly and flat-leaf, overflows its 72-cell plug sheet. Time to trim it back (again), so they still fit under the lights. To be unfussy and safe, a quick shear of only 2-3″ off the top literally takes a few seconds and does the trick. Snip-snip-snip-snip-snip! This is what you have to do when you start seedlings extra early, and then wait on the weather!
Transplanting lettuce into the unheated greenhouse, filling it out in small sections to work around wetter areas. The seedlings, waiting for drier conditions, stayed a couple of weeks longer in trays than ideal—now they’re a little floppy and stretched, but I’m confident they’ll figure it out. This first spring, seeing how the ground dries in the new hoophouse is part of the learning curve. Tiny farming!
Lettuce seedlings get their first taste of full-on springtime sunshine. Next stop, into the ground in the greenhouse. I wouldn’t call this hardening off, some of these are being transplanted later today—tomorrow’s cloudy forecast should give them all the post-transplant adjustment break they need, then bring on the sun! (Starring in this pic, always reliable Black Seeded Simpson.)
Staring up close at a stack of 72-cell plug sheets in webbed trays. Exactly where most of the transplant seedlings around here get started…!
Shrouded against the cold: Not much to look at, but nice for the tomatoes, peppers and other seedlings on the tables underneath. It’s a double layer of medium weight floating row cover, tried and true, a familiar spring sight in the unheated greenhouse, good for a few degrees of protection in the forecast overnight near-freeze. Three days of chilly nights, they say.
It’s out of the moist paper germination environment, and into the wilder world of the cellpak. This is a baby golden cherry tomato—can’t you tell?!—going into standard sterile seedling mix of equal parts perlite, vermiculite and peat. As long as the root hasn’t gotten too long, I just plunk ’em down, cover and water in, letting the roots find their own way down (a few years back, I probably would have made tiny holes and painstakingly inserted each one, but really, they seem to do that work a lot more efficiently). On a side note, I think I heard that perlite or vermiculite (maybe both) have made it into some people’s not-so-environmentally correct category, along with peat. So complicated—I will look into that. :)
Parsley, seeded 11 days ago, began popping up over the last couple of days, so that’s the second crop of the season, underway. Four varieties this year, two each of flat-leaf (Plain Dark Green Italian, Hilmar) and curly (Forest Green, Green Pearl). They’re 18 cells per variety, in a 72-cell plug sheet, around 4-6 seeds per cell—I’ll eventually thin them down to two. They’ve already started to stretch because they’re sharing a light rack shelf where the lights are set higher to accommodate a tray of onions. Parsley is easy to start, I’ve had no problem with transplants, but my seedlings have always tended to stretch and tangle in the trays before transplant time. Last year, I snipped them back quite a bit so they wouldn’t tie themselves to each other. They seem to like their light strong. These are just early season details that I won’t be much concerned with a little later on, but I’ll see what I can do. I’m gonna hang lights on another shelf for them right now!