The earliest vegetable seeds are started under lights and have warm roots as they sit overlooking the snow covered garden below. It snowed again yesterday and most of this morning. We've had snow on the ground now for a month, except for the 2 days the snow all melted and came back the very next day. It's nice to know the vegetable garden is already started. This is my first year using lights, every other year I have just set the seeds by the windows with heat underneath. We have a couple of radiator style heaters that I place under a heavy duty plastic mesh table covered in a sheet so the heat can be distributed equally, I have the heater on low and it's enough to keep the soil warm.
The seeds have all come up, I planted several different types each of tomato, broccoli, kale, and cabbage, they will be planted out in early to mid April, except the tomatoes which will stay in the warmth for an additional month then be put into a cold frame for a few weeks. The celeriac and asparagus took the longest to emerge. I also planted some lupine, delphinium, zinnia, and portulaca flower seeds. The first of April I'll start my warm weather seeds that I'll plant out around the middle of May. We're at around twelve hundred feet above sea level and are about 2 to 3 weeks later than the valley below us, we have snow right now and if I drive just a short ways down our hill there is no snow at all.
A reader named Cheryl at Misty Meadows asked me a question about the lights and wondered if I had any tips. Here's a few tips from what I've learned. I simply have 2 flourescent bulbs in a standard flourescent light case, the lights are hung from the ceiling close to the starts, as they grow I'll move the lights higher, the better bulbs to buy would be full spectrum light bulbs. I turn the lights on in the morning and off in the evening when I go to bed, so they're getting plenty of light. I'll be transplanting the seedlings into their own pots as soon as they have 2 leaves. These little seedlings will expand on my windowsill and I'll add another table, one without heat. Most seeds are ready to plant out after 6-8 weeks and need a hardening off period, a couple of hours per day, and increasing the time over a week. Then they go into the cold frame, and then are planted out in the garden. It's a process of them growing up and getting strong enough to handle being planted out early in the garden.
I sure am looking forward to seeing the sun again and feeling it's warmth!