A newly-shelved seed table awaits its plastic enclosure. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Planting seeds indoors in winter to get a jump start

I start many plants inside in a dedicated seed table

By Mary Lowther

I start many plants inside in a dedicated seed table for several reasons: our summers are too short to bring some crops to fruition, slugs et al spring up unbidden to eat every last seedling planted out during the tail end of winter, and I have more control over growing conditions indoors.

I built a wooden tier of shelves to hold trays of seeds and attached hooks to the undersides of the shelves to hold chains attached to fluorescent light fixtures. I plug each fixture into a multi-socket bar with an on/off switch and a cord that plugs into a timer. This timer plugs into an extension cord that plugs into a socket in the house. The timer can be set to start and stop the electrical supply to the lights any time I choose, as long as no one else unplugs it, but I’m not mentioning any names.

I made new shelves this year that are four feet wide, built to accommodate four foot fluorescent light fixtures that I attached chains to at their ends. These chains hang from hooks under the shelves that the flats of seedlings sit on, allowing me to move the lights up or down, keeping the lights just above the seedlings so they never touch the lights. When the lights are kept at most, two inches above the seedlings, the plants won’t grow leggy trying to reach the light.

I’ve got a heating pad that I’ve never used. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but when I started reading up on heating pads I learned that seedlings that are molly-coddled in warm, ideal conditions face a more difficult transition when they are transplanted outside. Maybe I should dredge it out this year and try it for myself.

In previous years I covered each individual seed tray with a length of Remay, tucking in the edges to keep out ubiquitous maws, not the least of which are cabbage moths that emerge in early spring and refuse to keep still for my fly swatter. Cabbage moths lay eggs that quickly hatch into voracious caterpillars that consume every cruciferous plant in their paths and then hungrily eye other seedlings. It’s time consuming to remove the Remay pieces every time I want to water the flat, plus the filmy material catches on corners of the flats, but I’m no carpenter, so after sussing out the intricacies of enclosing the unit with mesh, I gave up, telling myself that Remay isn’t so hard to work with after all.

Six mil clear plastic wraps the whole system to keep in the heat from the lights, but I’m not happy with the Gordion Knot I’ve produced when opening and closing the front every morning and evening to prevent overheating in the day and cooling off overnight. So I’m back to Mickey Mousing the enclosure again, wishing that girls had been allowed to take shop when I was in school.

Maybe I should take a short course in carpentry.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lexi Bainas column: Singers, actors needed for thre exciting upcoming productions

‘The Winter’s Tale’, ‘Little Women’, and Mass for St. Cecilia are all calling: are you up for them?

Robert Barron column: Winter can be hard, but it brings back good memories

I would carefully poke the handle of the shovel through the snow until it bumped into a solid object

Andrea Rondeau column: What are your time capsule must-haves?

It would also be fun to include some pop culture mementos that represent our time.

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read