Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31, 2012 journal

As luck would have it, and as I suspected it would, the cold weather has returned. The crab apple bonsai has a few open clusters of blossoms; so with no bees to pollinate them I turned the task over to my assistant, who really enjoyed it.

At the beginning of each gardening season, you can expect a lot of posts on gardening forums where beginners are asking for help with starting seeds. Some of the responses amaze me, as there seems to be as many seed starting methods as there are gardeners. Then again, I would venture to guess that many gardeners would find my seed starting procedure rather bizarre.

Seed starting was also my Nemesis when I first began indoor gardening; following the advice of local hydroponic dealers, I began by using rockwool cubes. In addition to the pre-conditioning to adjust the pH, I discovered a lot of other drawbacks to using rockwool. I felt that it retained too much water, and, that the seedlings have a tendency to push themselves out of the cubes.

For the last several years I have used horticubes, and, the results have been much much better than when I used rockwool. Additionally, the cost of horticubes, locally, is about 30% less than rockwool, and the horticubes do not require pre-conditioning. That, to me, is a win win situation.

At this point in time I have several tomato plants, a few pepper plants, and two full trays of annual flowers already potted. To space the plantings out, I am still propagating seedlings for both the soil garden and greenhouse.

The center photo shows today's planting of cubes containing: lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and eggplant. The seeds were germinated in coffee filters, moistened with dilute nutrient solution, and placed in the cubes using tweezers.

The bottom photo shows the completed planting with the cover in place. The red/blue 90 watt LED will be used to light the seedlings until a strong root system develops and they are potted.


Rick F said...

Hmm.. I've never heard of horticubes before.. I visited the local hydro store today at lunch and picked up a Root Riot kit that can handle 50 seedlings -- with a tall dome for $32.. I'll be trying that out today -- I was going to get Rockwool but the sales guy steered me away for the same reasons you cite.. I was also concerned about the rockwool not breaking down afterwards leaving me with something to toss out. The root-riot claims it's completely biodegradable which is nice.

Jack said...

We have three stores in this area that I visit, and each of them carries horticubes. Today I bought two sheets of 104 each, 204 total, and got a buy on them for nine dollars. That is 4.4 cents a cube. Three of us are getting together to buy them by the case. I am very surprised that your dealer does not carry them. Look them up online, greenhousemegastore has them for thirteen dollars and change for a box with two 104 cube sheets.