Outdoors

Seed-Starting and Reality

I thought I’d better write about all the stuff they don’t tell you. Though I remained hopeful, I did not meet the mysterious, scientific conditions for indoor plant survival.
 
View the slideshow above for tips that will keep your indoor plants healthy and growing.
 
Let me back up a bit. The first part of the story goes like this: Everything is wonderful. I succeeded. My indoor plant stigma disappeared as charming sproutlettes emerged from the little grow plugs in my cat-proof seed-starting system.
 
The plot thickens when two of my yogi tomato sprouts shriveled in a grandiose and exhausted forward bend, and all my old brown thumb failure stigmas flooded the scene. I panicked, then took action.
 
Salvaging my seedlings
Step One: Get them out of the aquarium. Once sprouted, my seedlings didn’t need that intense of a moisture-retainer and all it was doing was encouraging mold (my two tomato seedlings’ murderer.) I discovered that the starter plug thingies (though handy at the time) are a royal pain in my ass, since I had to up-pot/add soil to all my seedlings. Next year I’ll just start with a good potting mix and not think twice about it.
 
Step Two: Replace compact fluorescent bulbs with grow light bulbs that will up the temperature ante. (Remember that my apartment faces north and is sandwiched between buildings, translate: the sun does all its magic with little regard for my chlorophyll needs.)
 
So, yeah, you can go out and buy a $200 grow light system (for something you may or may not do again) or you can get creative and make your own. I opted for the latter since I’m not sure if I’ll scrap indoor seed-starting in the future. I got two 50W/120V grow spectrum bulbs at Lowe’s, each for about $5.
 
In search of more gardening advice? See The Easy Way To Grow Your Own Food, and  Five Multifunctional Garden Tools, for more tips.
 
Read more from The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking here.

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