Monday, March 27, 2006

And they're off...

I started my seeds this weekend, and thankfully they’re already off and running.

For the first time this year, I’ll be using “grow lights,” instead of having to rotate my flats on the kitchen table, trying to keep them in the shifting beam of sunshine streaming in from the south facing window. Trying to constantly reposition them to keep them in the light got old fast, not to mention that my kitchen table was out of commission for months during daylight, which was challenging with my kids who love to do “kitchen table projects.”

As usual, I’m starting a number of flowers for pressing, such as cosmos, verbena, pansies, lobelia, and some flax, but I’ve also started a dozen Italian and purple basil plants (I can’t wait for fresh basil!) a number of heirloom tomatoes, and a few unusual sweet pepper plants. In a few weeks I also plan to start a few Corsican gourd seedlings, because I’m finding that they need a head start up here in Wisconsin, in order to really achieve a decent size.

A few things I learned while looking into purchasing grow lights:

-Jung’s catalog from up here in Wisconsin has a nice “beginner” set up on sale.

-Ebay has a huge selection, although most of the lights they carry are for “big time” hydro farmers. Many of the grow light sellers advertise that their light systems are shipped in plain packaging. Unfortunately I guess there must be quite a market for those who grow illegal plants!

- While you’re looking for grow lights, check out “heating mats.” I’ve been using one for years, and the gentle heat they radiate really speeds up germination time. However, after germination, put the seedlings under the grow lights in a fairly cool place. A cool environment will help your plants become sturdy and strong.

That’s all for now. I have been blessed with at least one hundred crocus flowers this spring, and each morning there are more to press. The Microfleur Microwave Flower Press I use does an awesome job with them. Crocus flowers require several short bursts in the microwave, with cooling time in between. If you need more information on how to use the Microfleur, just email me.



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