“Sunny” Seedling Shelves

My wife and I have both loved gardening for a long time.  As kids both of our families had huge gardens, and our parents preserved much of their own food.

When we got married and moved into a small basement apartment in Atlanta one of the first things we did was ask our landlady upstairs if we could plant a garden in the corner of the yard.

Every winter we take the time to think about what we’d like to grow.  We consider the successes and failures of the previous year, flip through seed catalogues and online seed vendors’ sites, and make our plan.

seed starting grow shelves 1

This year we decided to try the Ontario Seed  Company (OSC), whose headquarters are one block from our son’s school!  Since we haven’t eaten anything yet I’m going to hold off on reviewing the quality of their seeds.  However, I can say that we are happy with the germination rates we’ve had so far.

seed starting grow shelves 4

The other perk of buying these seeds is that they are available locally at Home Hardware, with a huge selection available at the Uptown Waterloo Home Hardware , which happens to be owned by OSC!

seed starting grow shelves 2

This year we are growing the following things, some of which are from seeds we harvested from our own garden in previous years.  These are in no particular order:

  • Old German Tomatoes
  • Brandywine Tomatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Tiny Tim Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sweetie Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cubanelle Peppers
  • California Wonder Peppers
  • Jalapeño Peppers (from our saved seeds)
  • Red Hot Peppers (we don’t know the variety, the seeds are from some peppers at the market. They are small round balls, and quite hot)
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Lacinato Kale
  • 3 Varieties of lettuce from saved seed (romaine, red, green leafy)
  • Spanish Onions
  • Cooking Onions
  • Garlic (assuming it pops up where we put it last fall)
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Flowers (a few varieties, but we always include marigolds)

Still to come are more of the Col family veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as all the direct-seeded root vegetables, like carrots, beets, radishes, green onions, etc.

To start our seeds indoors we prefer using 200 cell seed containers that we bought online a few years ago.  I rarely see these sold in stores but they are very useful, and last a long time. Strangely, they are not easy to find in Canada, if you know where to get them please let me know!

We’ve already discussed seed starting here, two years ago in fact.  Have a look: Seed Starting .

You can also have a look at our plans for a Hoop House Cold Frame .

This year we added a seed-starting shelf to the mix, complete with grow lights!

seed starting grow shelves 5

We loosely followed these plans , but one big alteration was holding everything together with bolts instead of screws.  This way we can disassemble the whole thing and store it for the part of the year when we’re not using it.  Being able to take it apart also makes it much easier to move the shelf upstairs to our sunniest location so our plants can enjoy both fake light from the fluorescents and real light from the south-facing window.

seed starting grow shelves 6

Because we used scrap wood that we already had the total cost of materials for the seedlings shelves was around $120 for the 2 shop light fixtures , the bulbs, and bolts.  We put two types of lights in each fixture, one standard and one “grow” light.  Grow lights are much more expensive thus I decided to use them in combination with the cheaper fluorescents.  So far the plants seem happy!