Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Seedling Update

Everything inside seems to be going well. The onion seedlings keep growing. They are acting like unruly teenagers. Their leaves are going this way and that. I haven't been trimming them this week. It seems they need a trim every few days to keep up, but I've fallen down on the job. Well that job at any rate. We had some wonderful weather this weekend and we used it to clean out the garage. So at least some jobs got done. Just not caring for my seedlings.

The lettuce is also growing well. Their stems are a bit weak and leggy. Not horribly bad, but not great. Their light is only on for 12 hours to accommodate the onions lighting needs. I think they would rather have 16 hours. These are the only plants scheduled to share time with the alliums who love their long nights.

These plants are all supposed to be hardened off on the 15th. Never to see the blue LEDs again. On the 13th I'm supposed to seed a lot of my spring crops and some summer crops that need a longer growing period. They will be taking over the lights after they germinate. Sadly my schedule is doomed. After a beautiful weekend where we saw temperatures approaching 60°F both days, now we have this:

Yup more snow The garden beds had almost melted out. Today's highs are only supposed to hit 35°F. All day we will have a sloppy snow/rain mix. Yuck. This is not even fun skiing snow. I'm thinking of pushing my planting schedule back. I need to get these seedlings out from under the lights before the next set start, since I just don't have room for them all. These are nowhere near to going out. I don't really need to have the soil workable, but I do need to be able to leave them outside all day long. Freezing and thawing in their pots would be really bad for the plants. This coming week we have a couple of days that will be normal for us this time of year, but the long range forecast is for below normal temperatures.

It really isn't unusual for us to be getting snow in March. It is actually very common. NOAA has all the fun statistics on it. The snow graphs tell me that we usually get 7 1/2 inches of snow in March. After today we will have had 14". It seems to me that we have gotten about twice as much as normal every month so far.


  1. It's been quite a bit of snow this year, hasn't it?

    Your seedlings look good! Do you always trim your onions? I never had, and I always have trouble with them flopping. I thought it was just due to bad light.

    Have you considered a cold frame? I am going to harden off my seedlings in one this year. They're easy to make, you can use scrap windows and parts, and keeps the wind and the worst of the cold off your plants.

  2. Well, Daphne, even though the scheduling might be off, one thing is for sure- your lights work well! The seedlings look great. My lettuce seedlings look a little floppy and weak- I guess starting them with lower light levels, this time a year, is to blame (or maybe not!). My gamble broccoli crop really needs to go out soon too. I'm afraid my scheduling was off too! No worries, spring is on the way! Time to build that cold frame!

  3. Pam, they do tend to flop around when they are grown inside (yes they need stronger light and probably some wind to make them stronger). They flop much less if trimmed back. I usually do it just to keep them under the lights, so they don't get burnt. The LEDs don't seem to burn them like the fluorescent lights did so it isn't as crucial to me anymore.

    I have considered a cold frame. I really would like one. I have the glass for it. I just need to find some wood. Well and the drive to actually do it. Too bad my DH isn't into construction.

    Tessa, considering they are only on for 12 hours a day, the lights so far have been a success. I'm going to wait until my main set of seedlings have grown to really make up my mind. The biggest problem is that I have to keep the plants really close to the light. I'm worried when I have a large mix of different sized plants. Right now I'm using paperback books to prop up the shorter ones, but I won't be able to do that with the soil blocks.

  4. You are growing some stellar onion. I hope my second seeding catches up, I have been watering with some weak organic fertilizer to try and pamper them.

    I don't know what it is this year but it seems we got all our snow in December. Nice wintry shot, looks like a nice neighborhood. I wish my neighbors were spread that far apart.

  5. Everything seems to be coming along so nicely!

    Your lettuce looks beautiful. What is your secret? I try and try to plant greens and herbs seeds but they always get leggy before they are large enough to transplant. They then proceed to grow faster than they can support, the plants fall over, and shrivel up and die. I'm not sure if I'm not planting the seeds deep enough, if I am using the wrong kind of starting container, they aren't getting enough sunlight, or what...

  6. Dan, we all own about a 1/2 acre in our neighborhood, which is really nice.

    Jennifer, Well leggy and weak seedlings happen for several reasons. The first is lack of light. They really need strong light very close to their leaves (and except for the LEDs the leaves can't touch the lights). Second if you over fertilize the plant it will grow too quickly, but be very weak. My blocking mix has organic fertilizer in it, so I don't fertilize at all. My others have some old potting mix in my house that has no nutrients in it and I feed that a very weak fertilizer solution. Maybe 1/4 strength. The third reason is lack of wind. Without wind the stems can't grow very strong. People often put up fans for their plants. They don't have to run all day long and should be on a low setting, but maybe an hour a day would be good. I currently don't have a small fan. I used to but my son has it at college now. I need to get one. Instead I pet my plants. I just gently brush my hands over them for a minute. It helps but a fan is better. The lettuce actually has a pretty weak stem and the onions are floppy. I wish they could get outside more. I should have put them out over the weekend during our two nice days, but forgot all about them during the garage clean up.

  7. Aw, man....I'd go insane from all that snow! Hopefully, you'll get to move them outside soon.


  8. Snow, ugh! I am so sick of snow. Up in Maine it is raining to day and I hope melting a lot of snow as it does. Very dreary, but yesterday and the past weekend were gorgeous.

    I finally mailed you zucchini seeds yesterday, you should have them soon!


  9. I was wondering if you petted your lettuce, since you commented on my blog that you're already a stroker of tomato sprouts. They say everything comes out in the laundry, but these days it comes out in the blogs...

  10. EG well I did grow up in Colorado, so I'm used to snow, even snow in the spring time. Once I remember a three foot snow storm at the end of may. I've gotten soft however living in on the coast for almost 30 years. Now when it snows a lot in March I pout.

    Henbogle, you really do know how to put a smile on my face :> I'm looking forward to trying those.

    Kate, Yup I do like to pet things in the garden, my dog, my plants. I really want to pet the bees too, but I just don't know if they would appreciate it.

  11. Hi Daphne, Oh I am so sorry about that snow. Your seedlings and schedule were going swimmingly too. We turned off one of the lights as the plants got too big for them and the sun seemed so much brighter in the windows now. Some are out in the coldframe made with lumber and a glass shower door. That will hold them unless there is below freezing temps, which could very well happen. We both need an early spring!

  12. Daphne your onions look great. Like I said on my blog my red Italian ones are strong, but my others are very weak. I am not giving up though as It's not too late to try some more, so that's what I am doing. I hope your weather gets better soon and that you are able to get your seedlings hardened off outdoors.

  13. Your seedlings look fantastic, Daphne! Never mind the snow, they'll grow like crazy once you set them out!

  14. Daphne how big do the onions seedlings have to be before planting them out ? I have been petting mine as you said and putting them out each day in the wind.

  15. Maureen, I've mostly heard to transplant onions when they are the size of a pencil. I've never had transplants grow that big. I'd need to give them bigger pots for that. They are in tiny 12 packs since it is all I have room for.

  16. Frances, I need to get my hoops up as soon as possible. As soon as I can shove them into the soil they will go up. Then I will have a place to keep my hardy seedlings. Soon I hope.

    OFB, Thanks, I hope they will. I so love my onions.