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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 1/15/2014

IN THE GARDEN

Let there be light for seedlings

BY KELLY HEIDBREDER
GARDENING COLUMNIST FOR THE BLADE
Kelly Heidbreder Kelly Heidbreder
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Are you bored yet? It doesn’t take long for me to think of a project or two for you to do. My mailbox is full of seed catalogs, so my mind drifts to the garden that will be bursting this summer. That’s when the honey-do list is born.

One fun project you can do now is to build a lighting area for the seedlings you will be planting. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just bright. Take a look around the basement, garage, or garden shed before you go to the store. Look for saw horses, plywood, shop light fixtures, couple of step ladders, and a few 2x4s. This will be a good start.

Go up and out

This garden light box will get most of its structure from your two step ladders. Put them about four to five feet apart. Use two 2x4 boards on the lowest step, then secure a piece of plywood on top as a surface. Use two more 2x4s on the other steps and secure the plywood between the ladders.

Mount a light above each of your indoor sprouting spots on the bottom of the shelf above it. Inexpensive under the counter lights will work. Hang the last light above from the ceiling. In 20 minutes or less, you have a mini greenhouse set up in any warm location around the house.

If you don’t have that many seeds to sprout, you can just make a larger table top on the sawhorses. Mount the shop light above the surface and you will have all of your seedings at your fingertips, making it even easier to water them once they sprout.

Ordinary 40-watt tube bulbs will work fine. You can also experiment with special grow bulbs if you are feeling scientific. Hang the lights four to six inches above the top of the plants. You will have to move the lamps up as the plants grow, so put the lights on a chain to make easy adjustments.

Warm bottoms

To help the seeds germinate as quickly as possible, they will need to be heated from the bottom. A warming surface is helpful. Warming pads are available at the garden store. You might have something that will work already around the house. A heating pad will also do the trick. Put it under your seed trays on the lowest setting.

Before the seeds sprout, keep the soil moist with a spray bottle. Keep the soil misted so it is lightly watered. You don’t want the soil to be too soggy. A spray bottle will give it just enough water with out becoming waterlogged.

Once the seeds have sprouted, the soil doesn’t need to be warmed. It just needs to stay moist. The small irrigation system you have set up for the pots and window boxes around your deck will be a great way to keep the watering more regular. You probably have those kits packed away for the winter.

Now it is time to start whipping through those garden catalogs and order those seeds.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at getgrowing@gmail.com 



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