Sunday, February 26, 2012

Light Rack

Home Made Light Rack
One of the things we do to give some crops enough time to grow and produce in our region from seed is to start them indoors.  While it is still too cold outside, we can start them inside where it is warmer.  It is important to have enough light for the plants to grow well.

We made our own relatively inexpensive light rack for this.  We purchase a wire rack ($40), some fluorescent shop lights ($10 each), wheels ($2 each), and a timer ($5).  The lights hang from the shelf above and the seedlings are placed in trays bellow.  It is important to keep the top of the plants a few inches from the light source.  To do this we have adjustable chains on the lights and some blocks to raise and lower the plants.  Sometimes one flat's plants are at a different height and thus we use both of the methods in order to keep everyone happy.  We are leaving the lights on for 12 hours a day.

Light Rack Front View

Shannon Transferring New Seedlings
From Seed Starting Tray to Potted Tray
Light Rack End View

Keeping the new plants watered properly is also very important. We don't want to let them dry out or stay too wet.  In past years we just used a spray bottle to keep them wet.  This year we are going to try to water from underneath.  Each tray is set inside of a flat. In the pictures you see two 50 cell trays of which we left on of the cells empty. We can periodically fill the empty cell until water just covers the bottom.  The soil will wick the water up into the cell, thus supplying water to the plants.  We also plan to add fish emulsion once a week as a fertilizer when we water as well.
Tray Water Holes For Watering From Below
Another new thing we are trying is the use of a heat mat.  Not sure how well this is going to work as there is a lot of insulating material (air and soil) between the heat mat and the seeds.  We are trying this on the pepper plants as they like a warmer soil temperature.  The Popsicle sticks are for labeling the different plants so we can keep track of what is where.

Pepper Seeds With Heat Mat

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