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Video: Growing High-quality Seedlings, Lighting Fixtures, Seed Sowing Dates
Little secrets of a big deal
Spring is getting closer and closer, a good half of Russians are already preparing for the sacred ritual of growing seedlings. Everyone remembered with renewed vigor about seeds, soil and seedling containers. Soon they will start sowing, followed by picking, replanting plants, and watering them regularly.
However, not everyone, in the end, is doing well with the seedlings - either it was still green in the evening, and by the morning it fell asleep from a black leg, it does not want to grow, despite all the efforts made, then it stretches out in a nightmarish way. And then all dreams of getting the desired harvest come to an end. And all the very big chores and costs turn out to be nothing. I will not say that it is easy and simple to grow good quality seedlings in completely unsuitable conditions of our apartments - of course not. But it is still possible - you just need to try to create more or less acceptable conditions for it and try to minimize the effects of the stresses that plants experience in low light, increased dryness from batteries and other delights of a city apartment.The cultivation of seedlings on window sills, which we often practice, is especially unfortunate (I understand, of course, that often there are simply no other options or they are too expensive, but still this is exactly the case): high temperatures at night, insufficient illumination during the day and completely unnecessary heating from below from the battery lead to elongation of plants, their weakening, disease and death
But it is a good quality seedling that is the guarantee of our harvest. Only beautiful seedlings can be of high quality, i.e. strong, healthy and not stretched. And you have to work hard to provide for yourself.
Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for its cultivation in advance: organize additional lighting, take care of fertile soil, containers for plants, fertilizers and creating a suitable microclimate, and, of course, about seeds. The result in this case will not be long in coming: the rapid growth of plants, their resistance to diseases and, as a consequence, high yields will be guaranteed to you.
You need to think about the soil for seedlings in the fall
Many Russian gardeners are beginning to take care of the soil for sowing seeds for seedlingsa week before sowing, or even later. This leads not only to haste, but also to poor quality seedlings, which refuse to grow on random soil, because most often gardeners take some kind of soil available at the moment without thinking about its composition. And this may not be the best option at all, although today you can buy soils that are not bad in their composition. But under the guise of seedling soil, you can also buy simple peat with small additives, which cannot be called very fertile. It is better to start taking care of the soil in advance, especially since it is not always possible to buy all the desirable components for forming a successful composition. Yes, and you need to mix all the components in advance and allow the prepared soil to stand a little in the warmth so that the soil microorganisms will master it and start working.
Other gardeners are starting to stockpile seedlingseven in the fall, taking land from greenhouses or greenhouses, because she is the most fertile there. But this is also not the best option. Of course, if you are sure that there are no pathogens in your greenhouses (which, for example, we have, in the conditions of the Urals with its disgusting summer, is practically unrealistic), then you can. However, another problem arises here - many have to grow seedlings of both nightshade (tomatoes, peppers, etc.), and melons (cucumbers, watermelons, etc.) and cabbage and flowers. If we take the land from a cucumber greenhouse (many do this), then cucumbers and other pumpkin seeds will not grow well on it. The same will happen if we take the earth from under pumpkins or zucchini. I'm not talking about tomato soil. Therefore, after all, purchased prefabricated soil based on peat, vermicompost, agrovermiculite and other components is more reliable,after all, obviously no garden crops grew on it, which means that there will definitely not be pathogens in such soil.
Packages purchased in advance with components for seedling soil can be stored for the time being on a loggia or balcony, but three weeks before sowing seeds, all the numerous packages and bags should be brought into the apartment and placed closer to the battery. Two days later, you can start mixing the components - you need to mix it in small batches and very carefully. In this case, by the time the seeds are sown, you will receive a very fertile soil populated with beneficial microorganisms, completely free from diseases.
Seedlings need a long day
Although officially tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and other thermophilic crops belong to short-day plants, the length of our Ural daylight hours in spring (and even more so in February) is clearly insufficient for them. The optimal daylight hours for seedlings should be about 12 hours, and therefore supplementary lighting is absolutely necessary even on the southern windows. However, you should not overdo it either, because in the case of a significant excess of daylight hours, the processes of flowering and fruiting slow down. Therefore, in May, when the daylight hours on sunny days may be longer, in order to stimulate fruiting, it is a good idea to shade the growing seedlings for a short time (create conditions for a "short day"). This technique can accelerate the onset of flowering and fruit formation by even 2-3 weeks.
But now again about the light. We have to sow seeds of many plants (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, flowers, etc.) already in February. This means that without additional lighting, the emerging seedlings will see only the cloudy February sky instead of the bright sun. And even on a sunny day on the south window (by the way, not everyone is the happy owner of the south window), in reality, the sun will appear on your windowsill only for a few hours. And this is clearly not enough for the normal development of seedlings. As a result, already in the first days of the emergence of seedlings, the plants will suffer tremendous damage, because they, like us, everything is laid in the period of early childhood.
Lack of light will lead to stretching and weakening of seedlings. The next stage is their lodging and death. Even if this does not happen, young plants will develop extremely slowly and stubbornly stretch upward in an insane desire to receive more light, which is so necessary for normal photosynthesis. And this means constant stress (plants also cannot do without it), and, consequently, the constant threat of diseases. Here and root rot, and a black leg, which overnight can destroy all seedlings.
Therefore, it is necessary to organize additional lighting - on the large southern windows it is necessary on sunny days only in the morning and evening hours, on cloudy days - throughout the day. All other windows, especially the northern ones, need constant supplementary lighting.
To illuminate seedlings, it is very convenient to use fluorescent lamps, since they provide uniformity of illumination of seedlings over the entire length of the window sill, are more durable and economical in operation, and the light from them is more natural. It is best to strengthen several (3-4-5 - depending on the size of the illuminated area) of such lamps inside a kind of trough-case, which you can hang on two chains above the windowsill (or a table with plants).
The body itself is a trough from the inside, where the lamps are attached, must be covered with foil so that the light coming from the lamps becomes uniform and the plants are illuminated from all sides. The size of the trough should be such that the area occupied by it practically coincides with the area occupied by plants. In addition, I emphasize that this should really be a trough, and not just a rectangular sheet - there is a fundamental difference here. If you use a leaf, then the light from the lamps will be diffused throughout the room, and the plants will get less. In addition, if you do not have a separate room for seedlings, then such a light will be extremely annoying for those family members who are forced to live in it. If it is a trough (it can be obtained by slightly bending the sheet with an arc and strengthening a wooden frame along its contour), then the light from the lamps will be concentrated under them, which means thaton plants.
Consider an example of the design of such a lamp.
Composition of parts (dimensions in mm)
1. Slats 815x50x15 (2 pcs.).
2. Slats 445x50x15 (2 pcs.).
3. Side rails of the frame - see fig. 1 - 15 mm thick (2 pcs.).
4. Reflector made of fiberboard, size 815x492.
5. Foil for sticking to the inside of the reflector.
Assembling the timber frame
The frame is fastened with screws or self-tapping screws, and a fiberboard reflector is nailed to it with small nails from above (with a smooth surface inside the lamp). After assembly, foil is glued to the inside of the reflector, and then fluorescent lamps are mounted.
Installation diagram of fluorescent lamps
In the slats 2 for fluorescent lamps, in the shaded areas, before the assembly of the frame, slots were cut 10 mm wider than the diameter of the lamps in advance.
Installing the lamp above the table
The table is installed near the window, which is necessary for fixing the lamp, moreover, it provides a minimum of light. As a result, if the windows are not facing north, then you can turn on the lamps only in the morning and evening.
For hanging the lamp and adjusting its position above the table, a special structure is used, to which the lamp is suspended.
Composition of construction details:
1. Rail 815x45x15 (1 pc.).
2. Rail 450x45x15 (2 pcs.).
3. Rail 100x45x15 (2 pcs.).
Assembly of the suspended structure
Slats 2 and 3 are connected using a regular loop used for hanging vents in windows - we get two sets of slats. The resulting sets of rails are rigidly connected on one side with rail 1 with screws. We get the following construction.
Screw the screws to the rail 1 from the ends, leaving 10 mm each for fastening the chain. We attach the slats 3 with screws to the window frame (approximately at its middle in height). At the very top of the window frame, we fasten the hooks for attaching the chain.
Thus, the structure is attached to the frame by rails 3. In addition, it rotates on hinges - as a result, by changing the length of the chain, you can set the desired distance from the lamp to the plants.
At the beginning of cultivation, the structure is attached to the top of the window frame by hooks with the outermost chain links. Then, as the plants grow, it rises several times a little and is attached to the hooks by the following chain links.
Temperature and humidity are important ingredients for success
But the problem is not only a lack of light. There is also an extremely unfavorable factor - too high temperature and too dry air due to central heating. Both of these factors, along with insufficient illumination, further worsen the conditions for growing seedlings.
In dry air, the following occurs:
- increased evaporation of moisture from the surface of the leaves, as a result, even with sufficient soil moisture, the roots cannot cope with providing plants with moisture; the consequence is the so-called water stress, leading, like any other stress, to the weakening and oppression of plants;
- in plants, as a result of intensive evaporation of water, excessive accumulation of salts from the soil occurs; at some point, their concentration can rise to a dangerous level, which can even lead to death;
- evaporation from the soil surface increases significantly, as a result of which salts also accumulate there, which is clearly visible by the yellowish or brownish bloom appearing on the soil; it can also lead to the death of young plants.
As for the too high temperature in the room where the seedlings are grown, this is also completely unacceptable. Under high temperature conditions, the seedlings begin to stretch, become delicate and fragile. Therefore, the room temperature must be reduced. Plants stretch especially strongly if, with a lack of light, they are grown at temperatures above 20 ° C … 22 ° C and with abundant watering.
And what means to use here depends on the specific apartment. However, the method used by many to lower the temperature with the help of a window cannot be considered successful, because drafts have an extremely negative effect on the development of seedlings of heat-loving crops. Even if, due to poorly closed windows for the winter, it "cools" from under the window frames, and then the plants immediately react negatively to this factor. There is a cooling of the roots, which in thermophilic plants (especially melons) are even less resistant to such effects. The seedlings stop developing and begin to ache due to hypothermia of the earthy coma due to the fact that the root system ceases to work normally. Therefore, there should be no blowing from the windows if the seedlings are located on the windowsills.
When is the best time to sow?
When determining the sowing time, it is advisable to choose favorable days according to the lunar calendar and at the same time focus on the average sowing time of various crops for your area, but we take the terms for the conditions of the Urals.
Average sowing time
It is customary to sow tall and medium-sized tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes with seeds from mid-February to early March.
Low-growing tomatoes can be sown until about March 20.
Physalis - in mid-March.
Cucumbers, watermelons, melons, pumpkins and zucchini can be sown from the second decade of April to early May.
Kohlrabi can be sown from mid-April to mid-May.
Early white cabbage and early cauliflower are sown from the beginning of March to the end of April.
Savoy and Brussels sprouts - from early to mid-April.
Mid-season white cabbage is sown from mid-April to mid-May.
Sowing of late white cabbage and late cauliflower begins from mid-March to late April.
Black onion - from early March to late April.
Let's start sowing
Considering that the majority of gardeners buy the seeds of thermophilic garden crops today in stores, they do not require any preparation for sowing. You can process them in a solution of black yeast and Rhizoplan (soak for 2 hours) or hold them for 18-20 hours in a warm solution of one of the following preparations: Gumi, Ideal or New Ideal. But, to be honest, lately I've just sprayed the seeds with the Epin growth stimulator (7 drops per glass of water), and the result is much better - the seeds germinate faster, and the germination rate increases significantly, even for pepper, which, as a rule, emerges without such treatment not very good.
After soaking or spraying, the seeds are immediately sown in prepared containers - it can be in the soil, or better - in sawdust. The containers are filled with a thin layer (about 0.5 cm) of well-moistened sawdust. It is precisely the sawdust obtained as a result of sawing that is meant, and not the shavings formed during the planing process. Sawdust is better because it has a very fine structure, which ensures excellent root development of plants. Subsequently, this will make it possible to carry out a painless transplant. When working with shavings, the results are slightly worse.
Then the seeds are carefully laid out on a layer of sawdust. Try to keep the seeds at a sufficient distance from each other. At the end of sowing, cover them again with a layer of sawdust approximately 0.5 cm thick or slightly less. Then the containers are placed in slightly opened plastic bags and placed in a warm place.
All further care consists in timely watering and, after the emergence of shoots, one or two spraying with Epin growth stimulator. Naturally, plants should be kept in maximum light. When shoots appear, it is necessary to sprinkle them with a thin layer (0.5 cm) of loose fertile soil and pour a couple of times with a solution of biological products (Rhizoplan, Trichodermin and black yeast) to prevent the development of diseases. This nutrition will be enough for the plants until the pick.