23 January 2012

Sprouting Lettuce Seeds, January 18th, 2012

The seeds are just beginning to sprout.

You can see a few poking their heads out of the soil. Initially I was keeping the seed flats at St. Anne's in our cold frame. However, the threat of a very hungry banana slug led me to bring them into my garage for safer and quicker sprouting indoors.

I have a simple set up with a "daylight" fluorescent light and a fan. I place the seedlings just under the light for 12 hours a day. I have the light and fan on a timer. The fan is important to produce hearty, strong seedlings. Seedlings that are grown without adequate light and breeze can often turn "leggy" and pale. When growing indoors, you want to replicate the outdoor environment as closely as possible, while still providing them the boost that starting the seeds indoors can bring (namely warmth for quicker germination time). For the sake of visibility, in this photo the seedlings are 6 inches or so from the light source, but ideally they should sit as close as 2-3 inches below it. Create a set up that allows you to either raise the light as the seedlings grow, or, lower the height of the items they sit on to keep the ideal distance between light and plants.

One other recommendation I have is to water your cell packs from the bottom up. I let mine sit in a tub of water, one inch or so high, until the soil is moist all the way to the top. This can take several hours depending on your soil's moisture retention quality. I find I need to repeat this process once every 5 or 6 days. It's a very thorough watering and doesn't disrupt the seed or young seedling with soil displacement that watering from above can create.