New Grow Lights and Spring Seeds Started

New grow lights hung on my germination station

New grow lights hung on my germination station

Last year, my beau and I created this germination station for my spring seedlings. I used CFL grow lights, but I found they had two problems. One, they didn’t put out enough light, and my seedlings were leggy. Two, I recently learned that they can catch fire when they burn out! So, I decided to order a 4 ft x 2 ft grow light fixture that contains eight 54 watt T5 bulbs (6400K each). We immediately hung the unit on my germination station and voila! Great light over the entire heating mat (and trays), and it’s adjustable for when the seedlings grow.

This past weekend, I planted my tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds. This year, I also planted my squash and some melons, hoping that the transplants will be more resistant to the dreaded squash vine borer and actually survive to give me a crop.

I planted four trays (72 cells/seeds each), and they’re snuggled on a warm germination mat under my new lights. Here’s what I planted, with links to where I got them from.

TOMATOES:

I will be purchasing my Black Krim and Mortgage Lifter tomatoes as plants next month, so I didn’t start those as seeds. Here’s what I did plant:

  • Pear tomato – paste tomato seeds I received from another gardener
  • Amish Paste – the largest, meatiest, tastiest paste tomato I’ve ever had
  • Riesentraube – a tasty, prolific cherry tomato
  • Gypsy – a slicing variety I’m trying for the first time this year

EGGPLANT:

I will be purchasing my Black Beauty eggplant as plants next month, but I did plant seeds.

  • Listada de Gandia – a variety I tried to grow last year, but all my eggplant plants died for some reason. So, I’m trying again.

SWEET PEPPERS:

My peppers did so well last year, I’m planting more this year!

  • Emerald Giant Bell – great producer, thick walled, tasty, handles the southern heat. I pick them when they’re green. My favorite!
  • Sweet Yellow Stuffing – I’m planting these for the first time.
  • Red Mini Bell – Half the seeds I planted were from the seed packet; the other half were my own seeds.

CHILI PEPPERS:

  • Rocoto – I planted my own seed. Seed Savers Exchange USED to carry this seed, but this year their catalog doesn’t include it. (They were the only ones to have it, that I know of.)
  • Cubanelle – mildly hot, great for stuffing
  • Mystery Hot Pepper – Last year, I got seed from a fellow gardener that was supposed to be a sweet red pepper. Wrong! It was hot! But so flavorful. Because I didn’t know what it was, I nicknamed it the Mystery Hot Pepper. I planted my own seed to see if it’ll grow.
  • Jalapeno – great for my Fried Jalapenos
  • Italian Pepperoncini – What Italian garden would be without this variety?
  • Long Red Cayenne – This is my first time planting this variety.
  • Fish Pepper – The plant is so pretty, I’m planting them in pots this year for my front yard.
  • Filius Blue – This is my first year planting this variety.
  • Lemon Drop – very prolific and great to use dehydrated and ground up

SQUASH:

This is my first year germinating squash or melons indoors before spring. It’s another weapon in my continuing war against the squash vine borer!

  • Seminole Pumpkin – This is my first time planting this variety.
  • Burpee’s Butterbush (butternut type) – This is my first time planting this variety.
  • Black Futsu – I planted this for the first time last fall, but the pickle worms got to all my squash and cucumbers.
  • White Acorn – I planted this one for the first time in the fall, too, but the pickle worms got the fruit.
  • Tromboncino – a long, trumpet-like zucchini I’m trying for the first time
  • Tondo Scuro di Piacenza – A round heirloom zucchini, it’s the only variety I’m growing that is NOT c. moschata species (the species more resistant to squash vine borers).

MELONS:

I wasn’t planning to start any melons indoors, but I had a few cells left in my squash flat, so I figured, why not?

That’s what’s in my “grow room” now. That and my red and white onion seedlings. Here’s a picture of them now.

Onion seedlings ~ one month post planting

Onion seedlings ~ one month post planting

These will get transplanted in the next week or so – joining the onion sets I’ll be purchasing locally.

Have you started your spring seeds yet? If so, what are you growing?

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2 comments on “New Grow Lights and Spring Seeds Started

  1. Yep, my red onions in the greenhouse are looking just like yours’. I experimented with planting some in the garden a couple of weeks ago. So far so good. I’m in zone 8 here in MS. I’ve got all kinds of seeds sprouting in my handmade newspaper and toilet paper roll pots… so looking forward to getting them planted. Sounds like you are on a roll!

    • I have seedlings in my study under grow lights – peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and melons. It’s still too chilly to plant outside just yet. It’s supposed to go down to 36 degrees Tue and Wed night. I’m not even going to consider planting/transplanting until the first weekend in April…just to be sure.

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