Sunday, 20 March 2016

Expansion

Well, running out of space in spring to start my seeds indoors has become a "thing". This winter I spent some time looking at LED lights to see if I could replace my florescence I currently use to start seeds.

To add space I found a $50 pantry on sale at Canadian Tire, its 60" high, has 4 shelves each of 2 foot - the exact size of a regular grow tray. I had bought a couple 2 foot florescent grow lights, but the power plug on the side made them not fit. I could have used a couple 23 watt compact florescence, I may try it as a compare still.

But like gardening, I could try learn something new. So I bought a few "full spectrum" LED's on ebay. With a few heat sinks and and drivers, I made my first LED lights. Overheated 2 days later and went funky. Now I am not very good soldering and creating electronics, but I had to try again. So I dropped the number of LEDs per heat sync and tried again. The LED's I am using are 3 watt, 3 per Heatsink making 27 watts per light (in theory). Wish I had a meter. Now I have always read that these things run cool, but the dont! They still way to hot, so I added a fan, but its still hot. fan should be good for the plants anyhow. The LED's themselves are pretty cheap, so lets see if this lasts.

Here are my 1 week old tomato seedlings in my new closet, and very pink lights. Not sure I should risk them, in this experiment, but there is only one way to test if they work. with 2 of these 27 watt LED's, on the 2 foot x 1 foot shelf, that is 27 watts theory per foot. plenty. But without knowing the actual watts its a bit harder be so certain.

Next ouple weeks I will make the other 3 shelves - maybe dropping it down to 2 LED's per heatsink... we will see if these last. In the mean time I have a small place, that takes as many trays (4) as my grow table and can be used to store the containers for the rest of the year. This may be the way to go!

Monday, 14 March 2016

On Spring 2016

Every year I say I am going to build a or buy a weather recorder. Something to track my own back yards micro climate.  Those Raspberry Pi sound good. What gardener would not want a raspberry or Pie.

This Saturday though we had a record breaking 18 degrees. A total melt and workable soil before Saint Patty's day. The next week does not look too bad in the forecast, so I worked the beds, and planted Peas and a few really early kale seedlings. The tulips and daffodils are up, but not yet blooming. The ducks - in a frenzy. Nothing like last year.

Good thing I started this Blog as a reminder and log of what I learn

New Seed Starting Trials

Well every winter I go a little squirely and order more seeds than I can grow in 5 years in my limited garden space. The desire to try new things and learn the much forgot art of the garden. Art it is - as it is not as simple as putting seeds in dirt and spraying some water on them. There is so many subtleties. Much like any art.

This year I did a little trawling on LED lights to see if I could have a better jump on spring indoors. Maybe keep a few plants alive during winter. Although the lights idea has not really taken off as hoped (some cooling issues on my initial design). I came across "non-woven seedling bags)" on aliexpress for 100 bags for $3. The idea of planting seeds then not disturbing the plant roots when planting out appealed to me. The idea of not dealing with reused pots won me over. So I ordered a couple lots and tested them all but seeds needing heat as the bags are a bit deep.

New Grow bags
I bought cheap shoe boxes in a bundle from home depot. 5 for $2 as the grow containers to keep them from falling over. They extra helpful as these things are thirsty. You need a lot of water frequently.

The results though are impressive. The roots auto prune when they grow pass the bag, they deep enough to support a good few weeks growth (I thought). This is 2 weeks in for kale. I doubt I got 2 weeks left till these need to find larger bags or soil

Now if I could use top heat, these would be great for eggplant and peppers! Or perhaps just as second pots. The one down side is the time it takes to stuff them. Its a bit more work than pots. That said, its very therapeutic playing with the soil in winter.