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how to start a vegetable garden
mini greenhouses
liquid fertilizer
cold weather
seedlings
root system
nutrients
seeds
soil
plants
How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - Lighting Your Seedlings
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How To Start A Vegetable Garden  -  30 Day Challenge  -  Lighting Your Seedlings

Welcome to Day 10 of the 30 Day Challenge: How to Start a Vegetable Garden. Yesterday I shared how to make your own mini greenhouses to start your seeds outdoors - even in the snow!

Currently, I have marigolds growing in my mini greenhouses and they are doing great! In less than a week, they germinated. It's now been almost two weeks and the seedlings are almost 2 inches high.

If you missed Day 9, you can read it here on Street Articles: How To Start A Vegetable Garden - 30 Day Challenge - Making A Mini Greenhouse or check out the step by step instructions on my website. The link can be found through my Street Articles profile.

Seedlings!

Now that your seeds are planted, your seeds should be sprouting. So, let's talk about how to care for your seedlings.

Seedlings are very fragile and need proper care in order for them to prosper into strong healthy plants. The right balance of water, temperature, nutrients, and light are key.

Here's a few tips on caring for your seedlings:

  • Once the seeds pop through the soil, you need to remove any covering you may have on them to ensure they do not get too warm and "fry".
  • Make sure you keep them at a comfortable temperature, not less than 60 degrees and not more than 75.
  • Seedlings should be watered from the bottom rather than the top to promote a healthy and strong root system.
  • If you used a soil that had fertilizer already mixed in, no further nutrients are needed. If you didn't, don't add fertilizer directly to the soil as it can "burn" them. Instead, use a liquid fertilizer and mix it with twice as much water as the directions indicate and water them from the bottom.

Light for your Seedlings

Direct sunlight is best for seedlings, but cold weather and shortened days of daylight may limit the amount of light you can provide naturally. Seedlings need a minimum of 12 hours of sunlight a day, 14-16 hours is optimal.

If direct sunlight is not an option, windowsills and other sunny areas of your home are a great idea for your seedlings. Just make sure they don't get too warm sitting in the sun as you don't want to fry the fragile seedlings.

Another option is plant lights, or as I like to call them grow lights. There are many different types of lights available at many different price points.

What I Learned About Seedlings

About a week or so after my seeds sprouted, I noticed that my lettuce and tomato plants started dying off. In researching how to care for my seedlings, I learned that I was not watering them properly.

So, I started watering them from the bottom only. After 3 or 4 days of this, the seedlings did not seem to be doing any better. Back to the computer I went and that was when I learned that they were probably dying off due to lack of lighting.

A quick trip to the local hardware store, and I came home with two desk lamps and two 60 watt plant bulbs. I was happy with my purchase, as I had found a way to provide two plant lamps for my little seedlings for less than $50. They weren't commercial grade, but they should work.

And they did! My seedlings stopped dying off, and they started to sprout new leaves. Some of the seeds that hadn't sprouted yet have now started to grow. While I will probably have to plant some more lettuce and tomato plants, the ones that were struggling I expect are now saved due to this extra light.

30 Day Challenge

Who is doing this challenge with me? How are your seeds doing? Have they sprouted yet? Please post your garden update here or on my blog. I'd love to see what you've learned so far through this process. See you tomorrow!


Street Talk

AJ, You're becoming a green-thumbed expert! Great article. blessings, Cynthia

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Thanks, Cynthia!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Looking forward to pictures of your harvest!

  
  about 9 years ago

Pinned. AJ, please join my new Facebook page You can find a link to it at my G+ profile. I am going to be using this one for all my social networking. Anyone else feel free to also. :)

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Shawn, I sent you a friend request from the Facebook link on you G+ profile. Hopefully, I found the right one! Thanks for the pin!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
C4rmen  

I still cannot belive that in less than a week marigolds geriminate. Learning something new everyday, thank you AJ. Its amazing how much light plays an integral role too.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

C4rmen, I couldn't believe it either. These mini greenhouses are great! I'm starting some more this week, just not sure which seeds they will be yet. I expect great things from them :)

Reply
  about 9 years ago

You would think a kid that grew up on a farm would know all of this...but time and distance from the farm makes one forget. Like the article and advice...maybe there's a few square feet out back to plant in.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Joseph, I need to find a few more square feet in my yard! You'll understand what I mean when today's article comes out - "vine" plants take so much room, they may squeeze the rest of my plants into containers if I cannot find more spots to place them.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

How right you are AJ, I have "cooked" so many seedlings that Linda refers to it as cooking the veggies too early. I have always considered ground temperatures as important (I very critical factor when looking after Golf greens) and tended to get my soil temp up too high. It dose not take a rocket scientist to realise veggies don't grow well in the desert and that is not only because of lack of water, the roots burn, but here I am an "expert" agronomist and yet I still managed to burn young root systems. One thing to remember is specially in seedlings is to keep the ground temps as constant as possible for optimum growth. All plants have a range within which they grow, it is getting that happy medium that is the trick. I know of big concerns that have underground conditioning systems, very complicated, but automatically they control ground temps with either hot or cold water, sensors deciding when either is needed and automatically passing water through pipes set in the ground to adjust temps.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
  

Wow, Rob! Air conditioning / heating your garden! It's amazing the technology we have today. I would never have though of trying to control my ground temperatures like that. Thanks for the new info!

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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