Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Seeds are germinating

Seeds are germinating

Throughout January I have been sowing seeds in the heated greenhouse, which is my earliest start to the year. Unlike most years I'm a lot more organised and have written down not only the sowing date but also the germination date and the month that they should be harvested. I'm rather hoping it will enable me to do concessional sowing, which has been a failure every year I've tried because we forget or simply don't get around to it on time.

This year has the added incentive of being able to sell the plants, which I did last year, but none were ready before June and I didn't have nearly enough when they were ready.

Bringing things on so early has meant not only a heated green house was needed (the daytime temp has been upto 22 deg C, nighttime well above freezing) but it became apparent that the plants would need more light. 

I bought a 45 watt (225 LED) lamp which has been on for 16 hours a day. The lamp unit produces mainly read and blue light which is said to produce stronger plants and helps them (in the case of tomatoes) produce more flowers. Whether it helps that much as far as better stronger plants is concerned isn't really here nor there really as the difference is likely to be small. What is of concern is whether one lamp is enough to get the plants to March. By March there is enough light because that's when I normally start and things grow well enough.

The lamp helps about a dozen seed trays and as things germinate I have been moving the trays under the light.

The light has made a big difference. Not with the plants, but with the night time look of the garden and I'm waiting for someone to come and check I'm not growing anything I shouldn't be :)

225 Led's
The light is very directional, really only illuminates directly beneath the unit but it does give the green house an odd glow!  

Today was a very foggy misty day when I checked the light levels using an app on the phone. The accuracy doesn't matter too much as I was comparing the outside light levels to that of the Poly Tunnel and Green House (which has it's light blocked by the bubble wrap).

Outside in the fog, light levels were reading around 4,000 Lux, The Poly Tunnel read 2,500 and the  Greenhouse under bubble wrap was about 1,700. The plants under the light read 4,000 so the light unit has doubled the available light. Indoors on a West facing window sill where some other seeds are germinating read 1,200 Lux. Since the light unit is about 18 inches above the seed trays the plants will get much more light as they grow toward the light.
Led unit at night

I think there is enough light produced by the unit to help the Tomatoes, but I think I'll need another one for the Aubergines and Peppers.

Lettuces, Kale, Broad Beans, Mustard, Mizuna, Peas etc can all go without extra light as they will go into the Poly tunnel once big enough. 

I'll be keeping a tray of tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines out of this extra light just to see what the difference is, but there's only another 6 weeks to go before natural light levels increase massively anyway.

The seeds that have germinated so far are:
  • Dwarf and broad beans
  • Cauliflower All Year Round
  • Sweet Millions Tomato
  • Mizuna
  • Red and Black Kale
  • Wong Bok
  • Mustard
  • Money Maker Tomato
  • Lollo Rossa, Oak Leaf and Iceberg Lettuce
  • About 10 others that haven't germinated yet
4 Trays of bean germinated last week and so another 2 trays have been sown today and just in case things fail I'll be resowing some more of everything next week, and the week after. Once we get into March I'll then do everything again as I normally do.

Including fruit bush cuttings, Onions, Garlic, Leeks and all the difference seeds as well as last years nut trees in pots, Rhubarb in pots I've already got 35 different plants to sell on the market as well as for ourselves.

I'm hoping that I can turn the market stall into an "any plant that is edible" and "fruit and veg" stall. I've even managed to repot most of last years, and the year before's, nut trees so I'm very pleased with how organised I've been. You never know, this year we may actually earn some money :)

Saturday, 7 January 2017

New year, New Start

New year, New Start

I've got most of the seeds ordered, some have already arrived, and unlike most years I'm on top of things. The greenhouse has been sectioned off with a quarter of it being covered in bubble wrap and a heater placed under the shelving.

For once I'm hoping to bring things on earlier, making a real effort, with Leeks, some Tomatoes, Spring Onions, Broad Beans, Mizuna and Cauliflower sown. 

Greenhouse Jan 2017
Today was quite warm with the Polytunnel getting up to 10.3 deg C and within 10 minutes the heater had taken the greenhouse to about 12 deg C. I'm only having the 135 Watt heater on for the night hours so it'll be interesting what the temp is compared to the polytunnel tomorrow morning. The heating should only cost under 2p per hour (on for 14 hours) and once germinated I'll only have it on when the temperature drops below 7 deg C and hopefully that'll be enough. I'm going to read the light levels under the bubble wrap tomorrow and see if a light will be needed once they have all germinated. It's all a bit of an experiment but if I can bring things on a month or 6 weeks earlier I'm hoping I'll be able to sell plants and seedlings earlier than last year on the market. I didn't really have any plants to sell until June last year.