Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting through the gray time

Onions and leeks.
As I've said in a previous blog post, there are some good things about winter. But even the optimist in me gets down when the first day of spring brings 30-degree weather, and I hear that northern Wisconsin is getting up to a foot of snow.

That's when I go into my basement.

Peel back the cardboard reflectors.

And gaze upon the greenery.

I like to start seeds. It gives me something to do deep in the winter when the satisfaction of having planted tulips in the fall wanes. 

But mostly, it's to get something green green in my winter life. To add something living. And what offers the hope of spring more than putting a seed in dirt and within a week, something green pushes out of the soil?

My grow table with lights, seed mats, home made reflectors and leftover foam insulation.

In a corner of the basement, I built a table on which I have some 1" foam left over from another project. I put some heavy duty aluminum foil on a large piece of cardboard to keep every photon of light in where the seedlings can use them. Overhead, I have four 2-bulb shop lights with normal fluorescent tubes. I did splurge and three of the eight bulbs are special "grow" lights.

Seeds like tomatoes and peppers like it warm. I use seedling mats under the trays. I think the foam helps maintain the warmth, and enclosing it in the foil/cardboard reflectors can't hurt maintain a microclimate in my otherwise cool basement.

The photo at right is my pepper and tomato collection. Now that they have sprouted, I took the clear plastic dome off so they can get some air. Yes, in the lower right that's some moss growing. This generally isn't a problem.