For a look at what other home growers are doing go on over to http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/. She has a large raised bed garden in the Boston area that is presently buried under two feet of snow.
Last post I talked about modifiying a two bulb fluorescent light fixture to hold four bulbs. I put two Gro-Lux tubes in the center and planned to put in 6500 K bulbs in the outer slots since the high K bulbs put out a high percentage of blue light in the wavelengths that plants can use. I was in Rural King on Friday and looked for them there (you never know what you will find at a Rural King). I didn’t see any 6500K bulbs but they carried Sylvania T8 8000K bulbs, and I didn’t even know they made those. I figured that with the higher color temperature these would have an even higher fraction of blue light, so I got them. Later I looked on the Web and found the spectral distribution curve for 8000K bulbs. Actually I can’t really tell much difference between the spectral output of 6500K and 8000K bulbs from their graphs, both have good output in blue wavelengths, and both make significantly more blue light than bulbs with a lower color temperature. I think either bulb would be an excellent choice for starting seedlings.
In the plastic greenhouse over one of the raised beds there’s two rows of overwintered spinach (Burpee’s Double Choice) and a few tatsoi plants. Some of the leaves are a little burnt but most of the plants are healthy. Some sunny moderate weather this week should get them growing again, with the first pickings in early March.
I finally got the sunroom cleaned out and a table set up for starting seeds. Two flats of onions, 144 cells total were seeded with two seeds per cell. Once the onion seeds germinate I’ll set up the light timer to stay on simultaneous with daylight. I think Daphne had a point about not keeping lights on onion seedlings for 15-16 hours a day because that long day length can mess with the onion’s internal cycle time and affect their growth after tranplanting. The Red Bulb onions from Johnny’s planted about 120 cells and the remaining cells were seeded with Northern Gold from Burpee’s, bought at the hardware store.
I took an inventory of seeds and threw out some packets in the process. Those rutabaga seeds from 2009 – gone. I don’t like to buy new seeds if the old ones are viable, but some seed, like onion needs to be replaced every year. Here’s the seeds I have this year, with varieties I’ve never tried before highlighted in green. I’m planting 3 varieties of okra this year, after I found that pickled okra is the best thing ever. New varieties are: Teksukabotu winter squash, Tendergreen green bean, Red Bulb onion, Northern Gold onion, Kuroda carrot, Millionaire okra, Silver Queen okra, and Red Cloud beet.