Monday, January 31

New toy

From what I have read on other blogs we are all raring to go with seed sowing! Garden programmes advocate sowing seeds and leaving them on windowsills. Which may work up to a point but we have never found this really successful for bringing on seedlings. The seeds have germinated but then because the seedlings have had to hang around inside the house until temperatures in the greenhouse (especially at night) warm up they have grown weak and leggy. Quite a few years ago we bought a daylight bulb which helped for a while but the bulb lit up the whole spare bedroom with quite a bright light so when it eventually gave up we never replaced it.

Martyn was browsing garden websites recently to decide on a present that he would like for his birthday and he became fixed on an Indoor Grow Light Garden so we ordered one and it is now unpacked in a spare bedroom almost ready for action!
It isn't really set up properly yet but you'll get the general idea. The hood houses a couple of fluorescent light tubes and is coated to reflect light back downwards into the tray to maximise the effect.

The hood is adjustable so that it can be used for seed trays or taller plants meaning that plants can grow on under the tray until they can be moved into a cold frame or greenhouse to harden off. The kit came with four small plant troughs which can be used for larger plants but you can also place seed trays or pots inside the tray.

We also bought the optional extra self watering tray. This sits on the base of the unit and has a water reservoir into which is dipped capillary matting. The matting draws water up to the base on which the plants sit as it is needed. I guess this could also be used for watering house plants when you go on holiday.

We have tried to start seeds such as tomato and peppers, which benefit from an early start, in the past with little success so have wasted the seed and had to resow later - as mentioned above they have germinated but then struggled to grow into strong seedlings. These seeds will be ideal candidates for starting off using this kit. We will also maybe start off some early salad leaves and may even manage to grow some salad leaves through winter. I'll keep you up to date with how we get on.

Robin at Garden of Eden built her own germination table in her basement - if you click on the link you can see how she did this. We don't have the space to copy Robin - or the basement so had to go for a more compact version. If you want to read more information about the kit, we bought it from here. The website has some photos of it in action. I hope that we will have some similar photos to share shortly.

I know some of you have had more success than us using your windowsill as a garden space. Tanya at Allotments 4 You wrote a recent post about growing sprouting seeds - so what do you grow on your windowsill and how do you get over the problem of lack of light?

18 comments:

  1. Too much sunlight for us in Australia is not that very good for the plants at the moment. With too much sun-light in the summer, partial shade is the best solution. But comes winter, light are so much welcome. The surviving perennial warm-vegetable will embraced the light at the windowsill.

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  2. Too much sun! - Now there is a novel idea! We have forgotten what it looks like!

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  3. I grow onions from seeds on my windowsill. With onion seedlings you can't tell if they are leggy. :)

    I start peppers and tomatoes under fluorescent lights. They grow very fast there, so I will start them later. last year I started them too early and ended up with 50 cm tall tomato seedlings for transplanting in May.
    Good luck with the new toy, I think you will like it.

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  4. This sounds like a good investment but unfortunately I don't have a spare room to set one up in and I think it would be a bit in the way in an occupied room. I am very interested to see how you get on with it though. I was thinking of starting my peppers off early this year...but I too have had problem with 'leggy' plants in the windowsills so I am at a bit of a loss on what to do....Oh and thanks for the mention.. :-)

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  5. I have never found leggy tomato plants to be a problem. You just plant them deeper and they have more stem underground to grow roots from. As for peppers, well, if I can ever get mine to germinate this year we'll see if they get too leggy or not.

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  6. I hope it was a good investment Ana

    You do need somewhere to put things out of the way Tanya.

    It's not just the legginess Becky they seem to grow very weak and spindly and sometimes we have had them just give up altogether. There isn't really room on the windowsills to pot on the plants and still have them in the light so the poor things end up staying in seed trays and starve!

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  7. What a great birthday present, which I'm sure will be well used. I'm looking forward to seeing how you get on with it. I managed to move seedlings in to the greenhouse earlier than usual last year by putting my mini plastic greenhouse inside the normal greenhouse. This gave the seedlings some additional protection from the cold, but you can't get them out a lot earlier, so it's pointless sowing early really.

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  8. You're right Jo - at least with this kit we should be able to prick out the seedlings into small pots and grow them on inside so will gain a bit of time but we will probably start off with some salad leaves for some early salad and maybe some basil and coriander.

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  9. I'm also excercising restraint with seed-sowing. Like you, I have always found that sowing too early only produces weak, leggy seedlings. The later-sown ones always catch up, and need less attention.
    The new toy sounds great (as long as you have space...) My birthday is not long away. Must drop some hints.

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  10. Looks like a great toy. Still waiting for more my seedlings to appear.

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  11. No (small voice), I'm not ready to go with seed sowing. Up here in the north it's too early. But I do feel antsy seeing everyone else getting ready.

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  12. I'm further North than Linda so few thoughts of seed sowing here either. However... I do like this idea. Growing micro veg in winter too would be fun. Pity we've no room for even this size. I'll be watching with interest though :-)

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  13. It's really too early here as well Linda which is why the 'new toy' appealed to us. We have usually resisted the antsy feeling! As it is we won't sow tomatoes and peppers until maybe next month but some early salad stuf for fresh herbs is appealing now and maybe through winter.

    That is the problem Shirl you do have to have the space to put something like this so you are not actually living with it

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  14. What a great idea. I've had trouble with weak, spindly seedlings, too. For that reason I had no luck with snow-on-the-mountain and zinnias. Vegetables seem to work better for me, e.g. tomatoes and zucchinis.

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  15. We just hope it's a great idea that works Barbara. Martyn has sown some salad leaves and popped them in his toy so we'll see how they fare.

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  16. The latest issue of How to Find Great Plants is here and your greenhouse tomatoes post is listed. Thanks so much for participating, I hope you will again next month. Here’s the issue:

    http://www.appalachianfeet.com/2011/02/01/how-to-find-great-plants-issue-3/

    I wish I had the light setup from this post -- I have been using window light and it is going to be cloudy all week!

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  17. Thanks Eliza - I'll choose a post for the next issue.

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  18. I'm not sure I dare sow anything this early. Snow at the end of March last year and frost until June .... oh well, I did want to move North, didn't I?

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