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Seedlings everywhere!

Striped German tomato seedling

Seedlings are everywhere. The first set of tomatoes is putting on its hairy true leaves: that’s a Striped German in the pic. With Lynn honing her new putting-seeds-in- plug-sheets skills today, the early seedling starts are just about done. From the top (the end of January), that includes lettuce, rosemary, leek, parsley, peppers, eggplant, onion, celery, celeriac, tomato, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, collards, tomatillo and Brussels sprouts. Between the Milkhouse and the greenhouse, there are about 40 trays of plug sheets going. Most have 72 cells, and there are a few 128’s and 200’s. The seedling grand total so far is somewhere around 3,000. Actually, that’s the cell total, and many have two or more seedlings per, some to be thinned or divided, or else transplanted together. So, maybe 3,500 seedlings. I’ll start a few more veggies tomorrow, another 500 seedlings on the way, and that’ll be it for now. The most ever, although the number is kinda meaningless, except as a measure of the space they take up, since one tomato will produce for the season, while a cauliflower is off with its head and it’s done… Timing wasn’t great on a bunch of the starts, I waited in some cases 2-3 weeks later than I could’ve, which means transplanting out smaller or…later. This wasn’t meticulously planned, I was just playing off the weather (cold April forecast…that doesn’t seem to be happening anymore) and not wanting to be stuck with lots of overgrown seedlings. And, I’m always trying to reduce overall seedling time by seeing how late I can go… Anyhow, it’s about five weeks to average last frost. In another week, I’ll start the last wave, the CUCURBITS: summer and winter squash, pumpkin, cucumber, melons. They go directly into 3″ pots, usually take 3-4 weeks to get to transplant stage, and absolutely want HEAT, especially, toasty soil, when they hit the field. OUTSIDE, it’s getting warm!!!!

Seedlings on plant racks



  1. The seedlings are looking great. I know I’ve said it before, but I do really like that setup that you’ve got going. I really look forward to setting up something similar on a smaller scale next year. I think I posted to you before that I was able to get a hold of a couple of twin light fixtures for free. the lights are set about 10 inches apart and come with reflectors built in. Anyway… The sprouts look great!

    If you have a chance, check out this post of mine from yesterday, I think you’ll enjoy it. You seem to have a soft spot for the Macro lens pics.
    Take care.

  2. Beautiful set up!  I have a glass greenhouse and am trying to figure out how to include grow lights (for next year) for maximum benefit with minimum effort…

  3. ClemmonsHoo

    You have a great setup. I hope mine looks half that good, since I just recently made the decision to switch careers from software engineering to organic market farming. Don’t think I’ll make as much money, but I will hopefully be a whole lot happier.

    I have a ton of work ahead of me – finding suitable land, building a new house, getting this one fixed and sold.

    I have been following your excellent blog for sometime, and you are at least partly responsible for helping me make this decision. I have seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, and beets) growing right now for my couple of backyard raised beds. Got any idea how I get rid of the gnats that are covering them?

  4. P~: I particularly like the bees! I want to take extreme close-ups of spiders in the field, so I can whether we have wolf spiders. Lots of sliding around on my stomach in the dirt…

    Jean Ann: Lights in the greenhouse? For winter growing? Sounds like a big step.

    Garden Monkey Inc.: Um, thanks!

    ClemmonsHoo: That’s gonna be a major move. Although especially with software, you can always work from the farm, maybe transition into market gardening by doing some other work as well via the Net. Of course, jumping in can also be good!! I think it depends on the person… It’ll probably seem less stressful! As for GNATS!? I dunno, I haven’t run into gnats. As an (organic) start, you could try spraying with insecticidal soap, it’s nothing drastic, won’t hurt to try… A couple of good gardening books, and some reference web sites are good things to have on hand. If your lucky, all of your problems will be fairly common and you can look ’em up to identify them. In the forum, there’s a little discussion/list of best small farming books.

  5. Mike

    Just curious what kind of lights you have in that setup? 

  6. Mike: I use 48″ Cool White fluorescents. The older ones are T-12 40W, newer replacements are 34W, and I have a couple of T-8 fixtures, with 32W.

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