I have a multipurpose room in my new house. It is a little room off my bedroom where I have my office (I type here even now), my walk in closet that I love, my exercise equipment that I hang clothes on, various crafting items (alas, I am not crafty), gift wrap scatterings, and most notably my wannabe greenhouse. The other things melt into the disordered scenery, but my sprouting shelves are kind of hard to miss. Here is what the scene looks like:
These should be planted outside already, but the cold, wet spring has delayed us. I can’t wait though to see how they will fare. This little tower represents hours of hopeful handling….sowing seeds, transplanting them, watering, and yes, occasionally talking to them. They have read every whereverthere blog post!
So this growing tower is a simple construction. A 4 tiered garage shelf I drilled holes into and mounted shop lights on, about 7 bucks each, two lights per shelf. No special lighting required. I turn them on in the morning, and off when I go to bed. One gardener told me you can leave them on all the time, but I read that plants need a night cycle so I chose that route. For some of the sprouts, I used sprouting mats: little heating mats that keep them at a higher temperature to aid in germination. I actually noticed very little difference between those on and those off the mat so I don’t know that they are worth the considerable expense. The lights are on a chain, so as the plants sprout and get bigger, I move the lights up. I started sprouting in February, but next year will start tomatoes in January. Melons and cucumbers shouldn’t be sprouted before April. It really helps alleviate the spring fever to start gardening during a snow storm!
I over-planted to allow for a large margin of error. Few of them failed to sprout, but some didn’t make it much farther than that. You may notice the empty shelf on the bottom, those were for the plants that didn’t survive my week in California. But bless him, all our children and animals survived, so my hubby did pretty darn good!
Supposedly economical, each plant is one I didn’t have to buy at a greenhouse. They are planted in a rag-tag combination of milk jugs, plastic and paper cups, and whatever I had on hand. How is that for recycling?
In retrospect, this, like most of my projects, was more time-consuming than anticipated. I was especially discouraged when Home Depot had a sale featuring Early Girl Toms and Green Bell Peppers for 50 cents each!!! So next year, I will probably only sprout more exotic things, like my heirloom tomatoes (Did you know there is a black seaman tom? Who wouldn’t want to plant one of those!!) and oddities like my tiger melons, cherry peppers, and climbing tomatoes. But there is a satisfaction in knowing I attended all my veggies from seed to salad.
I am a long way from harvest still, but as I begin the hardening off process and prepare their beds, I am dreaming of the payoff. There is a lot of prayer involved as well, “Please oh please don’t let me kill everything!!!” For someone with a notoriously ungreen thumb, I am trying my best. I have over 150 plants waiting to go out this next week. Charity, I may have to borrow some mason jars.