Grow Light Revamp & Spring Update

We can’t sit around and wait for the piles of snow to melt this spring before we start our preparations for this year’s growing season.  There are plenty of things that can be done indoors, and this is what I’ve been up to.

Order seeds!  I saved seeds from several plants last year, but there are some that I needed to order.  I had a bad experience with a seed company last year, so this year I switched companies and my seeds were shipped the same day that I ordered.  Nice!  Most of the seeds I bought are for greens and herbs, plus a couple varieties of squash.  To prepare for seed planting, I check the calendar for the best time to plant.  For us, the last danger of frost could be anywhere from mid-May through the first week of June (yes, I’ve had plants get frostbite on June 5th!).  Most seedlings need about 8 weeks of germination/growing time indoors before they can be planted outside.  I will be planting my seeds at the end of March so they will be ready to at least go out to the greenhouse at the end of May.

I plant my seeds in homemade newspaper seedling pots.  (see the instructions by clicking HERE)  These have worked GREAT!  I buy JIffy brand seed starting mix (natural/organic), which has also worked well for us.  All of my seedling pots are held in flats that measure approximately 21″ x 11″ x 2 1/2″ and I can fit four flats on each of my shelves.

The revamping of my grow lights consists of attaching sets of three lights to metal bars and attaching a single chain to each metal bar so I only have 2 chains to adjust (per shelf) instead of 6 chains.  Handy, eh?!  I just used some scrap metal we had in the garage — I’m not even sure where it came from, but just look around and use scraps you already have on hand.  You could certainly use wood for this if that’s all you have.  One of my goals was to keep it as lightweight as possible, and the metal pieces we have are just right for that.  Check out the video below to see how I put it all together!

Pepper Plant Update:  You may remember the VIDEO I did about saving pepper plants through the winter and replanting them in the spring to yield more peppers than the first year.  Well….sadly all of the pepper plants I save have died.  I think a combination of a really long, dry winter and neglect proved too much for them to handle.  The poor things were stored on the bottom of my grow shelves, so they were “out of sight, out of mind.”  Maybe next year I’ll do better.

Tree Pruning Time!  I’m on the hunt for my pruning tool so I can go out and prune our fruit trees.  It needs to be done before it gets too warm out and the trees start budding.  We still have a couple feet of snow on the ground, but I can access the trees without too much trouble.  I’ll be pruning two kinds of apple trees, two kinds of pear trees, and one peach tree.  I need to check and make sure all of them actually need pruning before I make any cuts.  I think some varieties don’t need much pruning.

I would love to hear about your spring preparations!  Do you live in an area where you can work the soil this early in the spring?  Are you starting things indoors like we do here in the north?  Got some creative ideas and advice to share??  I love being inspired by other peoples’ projects!  Happy Spring!