SFG setup..1/25/11

I have’t gotten away from the photo-a-day project, but I haven’t posted any here, either. I spent most of yesterday buying seeds and setting up the starting station.

In case you haven’t seen it, the station is 9.5 feet long and about 7 feet high. It was originally designed to light hanging baskets through the winter for my mom. However, I modified it to provide light for seedlings I will be starting inside this winter to get a jump on spring.

The planning has been terribly time-consuming. Trying to figure out the schedules of each veggie really takes some coordination your first time out. But, things all start with your area’s “frost date.” The frost date is the date of the average last spring frost in your location. There are lots of places to find this date. Google is easy. The one, however, I keep returning to is Victoryseeds.com. Along the left margin about half way down there is a link to get your frost date. Pick your state, and pick your closest city. You will see your average spring frost and average fall frost dates.

These are important because they are what you “time” your plantings by. You can’t start tomatoes, for instance, outdoors until all danger of frost has passed since tomatoes don’t survive frost. If you really want a jump start on your tomatoes, though, you would plant seeds indoors about 6 weeks before your average spring frost and transfer them outside once the weather warms up…..or just buy tomato plants for $3 each in a store and stick them in the ground on that date. Of course this works with lettuce, broccolli, cabbage, cucumbers, and many other veggies. I am trying to time about 5 veggies this season.

Another way to get a jump start, and take some of the gamble out of frosts, is to build a hoop house over your garden. I will be doing this soon, too. This will effectively keep the frost off my plants. If the temps stay above 28F, I shouldn’t lose much to cold snaps. And, on top of that, I will be lining my hoop houses with old milk jugs filled with water. That water will absorb heat during the day and slowly release heat during the night. With a cover over my garden, the heat will help keep the temps up under the covers….and keep my plants warmer. This can make all the difference on frosty nights.

More details as I build things. But, for now, I am laying out my seeds, taking inventory, and I think the first broccolli plants will go in tonight.

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