Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What To Do When Your Indoor Seeds Are Growing Much Faster Than Advertised?

This is my first year of growing seeds indoors, and I must admit I covered every angle of this process to perfection. I bought the right seeds, grow lights, heating mat etc... and have religiously followed many expert bloggers advice.

In fact I did too good of a job -- my seedlings are growing way too fast! After 10 days, they are where I thought they would be after one month.
Growth has been phenomenal and has exceeded my expectations.
My seedlings began emerging:
Cauliflower-2 days
Broccoli- 3 days
Tomato- 3 days
Lettuce- 3 days
Pepper- 4 days

After about 2 months, I was told I would need to transplant into bigger (3 X 3", or 4 X 4") pots, at which point I would be ready to place them outside in my greenhouse. According to plan, this would have occurred in late March.

However, it's looking like many of my seedlings will be ready for this process before the end of February.
Closer view of a variety of peppers and tomatoes.
A Chilling Thought

The thought of putting these plants outside in a greenhouse in late February is a little troublesome for me. In Virginia the average temperature still dips below freezing on most nights. Even in a greenhouse, this might put too much stress on the little fellas.
My Cauliflower's were the first to emerge, after just two days! They are already several inches high.
Thinking Ahead

For several weeks, my new plants will need a "half-way" house -- between the time they graduate from the seed tray to when they get a new temporary home in the greenhouse.

So I am already starting to plan in advance. Despite living in a small, crowded house with very little extra room, I have identified 6 spaces next to windows where I can place trays. Each tray fits 18 3X3" pots, which will cover 108 plants. 72 plants can go back under my grow lights.

This still leaves several dozen plants unaccounted for. Oh well, I'll have to cross that bridge when I get there.

Next year I will start my indoor seeds one month later ... you live and you learn.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New 2012 USDA Hardiness Zone Map Released - Changes Reflect Rising Temperatures Since Last Release

Updated once every several years to a few decades, the USDA has released an interactive GIS-based hardiness zone map for 2012. It is also available in static image form for slower connections.

Click image to view interactive link, or use links at the bottom of this post.
Gardeners beware ... the climate has changed over the last several decades and the government has reflected these changes with this new hardiness zone map. Most locations throughout the USA have remained the same or been notched up a half zone.

A half zone increase may not sound like much - it reflects a 5 degree change - but with first and last frost times so critical, one or two weeks could make a difference between plant life and death.

Stuck in-between zones and not sure which zone you belong to? No problem -- just type in your zip code and it will tell you.

Currently, the USDA has not printed any posters of this new 2012 map, but you can download state, regional and national maps in a variety of resolutions and print them yourself.

View Maps:

Interactive version for higher speed internet connections

Static version for slower internet connections