Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grow Lights!

I decided it's time to take this to a new level! I had planned on building this seed starting bench, but realized it would cost me around $300. Instead, I put together a simple rig of 40W, four-foot hanging fluorescents from a shelf in my garage. Each bulb set has one cool white and one soft white, to spread out the spectrum of light for the sprouts. I have the lights on a timer to turn on at five in the morning, and off again at nine at night -- sixteen hours of good light per day. I have plenty of room for at least three more seed trays - and I have no problem doubling this setup if needed. I just hope the DEA doesn't get the wrong idea! I swear, I'm just growing giant sequoias!

... Well, that, and coast redwood, bristlecone pine, dawn redwood, and red maple...

Seed #4 - I Really Need to Be More Careful

Seed #4 has been one of my sequoia superstars. I just finished setting up my new grow lights to help speed up growth in my sprouts, and I might have accidentally killed this little guy. I tried gently wetting the sprouts with a spray bottle, and when the spray hit this one, he fell straight over. This is the second time this has happened to me. The first one didn't make it but another day or so. I've propped him up with a toothpick, and am going to wait it out a day.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try the equivalent of open heart surgery -- I'm going to see if I can put just the right amount of soil around the base of the sprout to help hold him up. I have no idea what the chances of him making it are, but I'm not that optimistic. If seed #4 dies, I'm down to only five sequoias (from seeds).

It's getting more and more difficult to keep these sprouts alive. I might be watering them too much - or, maybe they're not getting enough light. Whatever the problem is, they're not talking. I'm done using spray bottles, that's for sure. Instead, I've found that watering them from underneath works really well. I fill the tray with about an inch of water, and wait for the driest cel-pack to moisten, usually after thirty seconds.

In any case, I'm not looking forward to another sequoia dying. I think it's time to order a few hundred more seeds, and really go nuts. If they're going to give up on me, then I'm going to fight back by bringing in reinforcements!