Our 2022 garden: starting seeds and potting up

With our average last frost date of June 2, today works out to be 8 weeks for seed starts. In addition to starting new seeds, our replanted Cup of Moldova seedlings were ready to be thinned and potted up.

We also needed to make space.

While the sun room’s daytime temperature neared 20C/68F, while the outside temperature reached a high of 4C/39F, the overnight temperatures dropped to just above freezing.

We decided to take the chance, and move the onions and shallots to the sun room. I’m not very encouraged by how they seem to be doing, and I figure we’re going to need to buy sets later on, anyhow. More on that, later.

We also had to pot up the Wonderberry. The only one that survived from the first planting is large enough that it can only fit into the top of the mini-greenhouse, where the frame comes to a peak. The second planting had two that were getting pretty big, so they got separated and repotted, too. There was also a whole lot of removing of pots where the seedlings did not survive, and re-arranging the big aquarium greenhouse so that the new seed starts could go on over the heat mat.

Eventually, we were able to start the new seeds!

There were only two things that needed to be started, as the others on the list were for 8-10 weeks, and we’d already started them at 10 weeks.

One was Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry. The seeds are so small and few, they came in a separate envelope in the packet. Still, my daughter divided them up, and planted 6 pots with them.

While she worked on those, I started on the Red Baron bunching onions.

They have such pretty seeds!

These were densely planted in a repurposed grocery store salad container.

These are now on the heat mat.

The pots that had been on the heat mat got shifted over, but are still in the big aquarium.

Here we have our squash and gourds, and the second planting of eggplants and purple peppers. There are a few survivors of the first planting, but the way things are going, I figure extras will always be a good idea!

This tray had the second planting of the Cup of Moldova paste tomatoes, planted in Red Solo cups. A couple of them had only one seedling in them. For the rest, I gently removed all but one from each cup. The cups were only half full of seed starting soil, so my daughter potted them up by simply adding more to fill the cup. While she worked on that, I filled more cups and transplanted the tomatoes that had been removed, burying the stems until they were much like the others. I ended up doing a dozen cups, on top of what my daughter filled.

Hopefully, most of these will survive to be transplanted!

We were able to fit them all into the mini-greenhouse, though a bit more re-arranging needed to be done. The Sophie’s Choice tomatoes are much smaller, and not ready to be thinned or potted up, yet.

The largest Wonderberry is now in one of those Jiffy pots that can be buried directly into the ground, as are the two smaller Wonderberry. The smaller ones are in the tray, where they can be watered from below, but the big one was on its own. To allow for watering and not making a mess, my daughter wrapped the pot with aluminum foil.

Since we have to keep the mini-greenhouse enclosed, I have the mini fan set up to blow are up one side, so it can circulate under the cover without blowing directly onto any plants. A salvaged window screen gets set across the bottom, then the flap is brought down, its bottom tucked under the screen, and the zippers pulled down as far as the screen, so hold it in place. It’s the best we can do to keep it from getting too hot in there and to allow fresh air in. For seedlings this big, the cover would be removed completely, but certain cats would simply destroy everything.

It will be good when all the plants can finally go into the sun room! These are, however, much more fragile than the onions.

I had a couple of spare oven liner trays that I picked up for inside the small aquarium greenhouse. We’re not using that right now, as anything that goes into it seems to struggle. That’s where these onions had started out. They should be quite a bit bigger, and there should be more of them.

That one tray that looks the sparsest is the shallots. The soil even looks dug into. I suspect one of the cats actually managed to reach through a gap in the cover flap over the screen we put in front of the mini-greenhouse.

Concerned for the overnight temperature drop, I remembered a small light that we’ve used in the sun room before. It has an incandescent, full spectrum bulb in it.

It also gets quite warm, and we’ve made use of that heat for everything from keeping plants warm, to keeping recovering cats warm!

So that got set up on the empty shelf under the onions. The shelves all have scrap pieces of rigid insulation on them. Most of the inside of the shelf is covered by the reflector we made using a larger piece of rigid insulation. So the space should hold warmth a fair bit. The light fixture would help, plus even the LED shop light does warm up, just a bit. Between all that, I’m hoping the shelf itself will hold a pocket of warm compared to the rest of the room.

We’ll see what difference it makes.

So this is where we are at, 8 weeks before last frost. We have a few more seeds to start at the 6 week mark, but it’s the 4 week mark that is going to be a doozy. The fast majority of our seeds, both in variety and in quantity, are supposed to be started by 4 weeks. This includes the winter and summer squash, pumpkins, remaining gourds, melons, watermelons, and the last of the tomato varieties. We don’t plan to start many of the tomatoes, but we do intend to plant quite a lot of the various squash and melons.

Finding the space for everything is going to be quite the challenge. It’ll be May by then, though, which means the overnight temperatures in the sun room should be warm enough that we could even start some seeds in there, and not just in the large aquarium greenhouse. Some of what we’ve started will be ready for hardening off, too.

Looking at the long range forecast, we’re going to have a rather chilly Easter weekend, and things aren’t going to warm up very much after, either. I’ve been looking at the 30 year averages, though, and these temperatures are pretty much bang on for the average.

It just feels like winter keeps dragging on.

And on and on and on.

The Re-Farmer

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