It seems that as we garden we are always trying something new and different. I have been keeping lots of notes on what I try new each year and then before planting I reread my notes and make adjustments. This year we splurged on a new grow light after needing to replace our old fixture yet again. We keep buying shop light fixtures and grow light bulbs, but they just don’t seem to last. So this year we got a new Jump Start 4 foot light that has 4 T-5 bulbs and we are very happy with it. The stand we are using is an old one and not made for the heavier weight of the new light fixture so we should probably invest in a new stand for next year because it was very difficult to adjust the height of the light fixture without 2 people. The new light did seem to make a big difference, it spread out over a larger area and never got hot.
I did stick with my homemade seed starting mix from last year and loved the results so I will repost that recipe here again. I found this recipe on line at About.com, it drains so nicely and I have great results using this recipe.
Basic Seed Starting Mix
- 3 parts** peat or coir (coir is preferable if you can get it)
- 3 parts vermicompost (your own or purchased from a garden center or other supplier ~ Worm Gold)
- 1 part perlite
- 1/2 part greensand
First you have to soak the peat or coir and let it get nice and moist then start adding all the ingredients in a bucket or wheelbarrow. Mix it very well by hand.We fertilized the seedlings with Kelp and Sea Weed Extract about once a week.
We started 23 varieties of tomatoes mostly seeds left from previous years, but we did purchase a few new ones. My favorite was Geranium Kiss tomato with foliage that really looks like a geranium leaf. It will only get 2 feet tall, but from what I have seen on line it will produce a lot of clusters of pretty large size cherry tomatoes with a little tiny point at the bottom. Can’t wait to see that. This year new raised beds were built to make them 12” tall instead of 6” so more soil had to be brought in to fill them up. We found a nice mix that had some mushroom compost, steer manure and rice hulls along with other things. We have also added a lot of our own homemade compost from the big bin.
We didn’t plant as many varieties of peppers though, but I did try something I don’t usually do, I pinched the tops several times and I love the results. They have branched out and gotten very full. I also turned the heat mat up to about 75 degrees until about two weeks before planting then I turned it down to 65 and let them harden off a bit. The day they were planted we got a heavy downpour of rain and I was so afraid I would go out to see them all broken off and sad looking, but they held up really well and a few days later it seems they are even growing. This week’s forecast is calling for a hot spell which should get things off to a good start. A new pepper I am anxious to try this year is Chablis, it is a thick walled sweet pepper that has multi-colored fruits.
Can’t wait to post more progress in this years garden. There is so much more I want to document here, but I will save that for another post!