The American Midwest is in the grip of yet another polar vortex, a long dip southward of the jet stream that carries cold arctic air into the region. At least we had a stretch of moderate weather between the last vortex and this one, enough to melt most of the snow and clear the roads. This being February, this cold snap is not nearly as bad as the last one, but it is much colder than average and the ground is frozen solid.
The beginning of plant growth, what we think of as Spring, will obviously be set back several weeks. The spinach I planted last October that overwintered inside the plastic greenhouse is showing a little growth. Usually by this time it would be larger, but whenever the weather breaks it should grow quickly. At least the soil inside the greenhouse is no longer frozen.
The schedule for starting seeds was pushed back about two weeks. A few weeks ago I assembled the seedling rack. Since I had a set of casters stored in the minibarn that were taking up space it seemed like they might as well go on the legs of the rack as this thing when loaded is heavy and hard to move.
The top and bottom shelves are fastened in place with screws while the two middle shelves can be moved to any number of positions. I had some leftover Reflectix insulation from the cold frame project and attached that to the back side of the unit. This will reflect some light back onto the plants. The light unit has four 32W T8 lamps. Two of the lamps are GroLux bulbs (which look purple) and the other two are 8000K bulbs. This light setup gave very good results last year - thick bushy seedlings.
For my take on lights and plant growth here is the link to an earlier post.
I seeded some lettuce about ten days ago. Last week I seeded two flats of Ruby Ring onions, and two days ago I seeded the first set of brassicas - broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage and tatsoi. When ready they will go into the plastic greenhouse. After the onions germinate and the weather moderates (it was 6 F this morning) I'll put the onions into the mobile coldframe. That will clear space for more seedlings. The growing season is getting underway, slow but sure.