Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Very Important Non-Office Use for Our Office

My post titles are getting to be on the long side.  I'll try to work on that. 

We use our office mostly for bill paying, storing books and keeping important papers filed away.  But!  When you have a south-ish-facing office with a bank of four windows, it also becomes the perfect location for starting plants.  The windows help supplement the artificial light and warm the room to a lazy temperature.  Last year we used a rectangular folding table to set our seeds on but this year, that table is our school table.  Jamey found an old (and very cool) table top in one of the barns.  He used saw horses for legs.  I think the paint splashes on the sides of the saw horses really adds to the decor.  I'm being sarcastic, but in all honesty, I don't care.  Grow me some food or add to my office decor?  I'll choose the food.

Jamey started the process of filling pots and planting seeds about a week ago.  He will plant more in a couple days and more yet in about two weeks.  He's following his planting schedule like a good (albeit, small-scale) farmer.  Here are some of the pots and trays getting filled outside.  He'll use many more newspaper pots (tutorial) than what are shown here.  We use commercial potting soil to start our seeds. 

The lights above our plants are standard florescent lights- not special grow ones.  The lights hang from heavy string that is looped around hooks in the ceiling.  This is ideal because they can be raised up and out of the way completely when not in use.  They can also be raised as the plants grow so they are not butting their tender little heads into their light source and lowered so they are not straining toward the light and becoming lanky in the meantime.


We're trying something new this year when it comes to starting plants (see below).  Jamey rigged up a warming box to help warm the soil from below.  In the bottom of the box lies a heat trace line.  Yeah.  I didn't know what it was at first either.  This line looks like wide tape.  It's used for wrapping pipes to keep them from freezing.  Plugged in, it conducts heat and warms whatever it touches.  Jamey put it on a dimmer switch  so we can regulate the warmth it emits.  (He used a very similar set-up to keep the chicken water from freezing during the winter- brilliant, if I do say so myself.)  On top of this heat trace line is sand.  Starter plants sit directly on top of the sand.  We are trying bell peppers, stevia, and basil in the warming box this year.  The idea is that the heat will warm the soil and encourage healthy root growth- warming the plants from the bottom as the sun and the lights warm the plants from the top.


You have to walk through our office to get to our bedroom.  Every night Sam reads on our bed for awhile before going to sleep so he won't disturb Sadie (they share a room).  The other night Jamey went upstairs and found Sam standing at the table just staring at the little plants and dirt.  Jamey asked him what he was doing.  He said that every night before bed he stands and looks at the plants.  He said he talks to them, too, because he heard that helps them grow.  Now, that's not something the companion planting book that I read talked about, but I'll let you know if we have unexplained stellar results this year.  If so, it might be due to a seven year old's seed-starting contributions.

Newspaper pots holding seeds and sprouting leeks.
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  1. Sam is onto something...plants need love, too! How cute is he? I want to squeeze him...

  2. Talking to the plants, sounds like a good idea to me. I might have to try that, it's only when they start talking back that one has to be worried.:)

    We are thinking of insulating our enclosed porch a little bit better and starting our grow operation out there next year in order to keep it out of the house. I was trying to figure out the best way to hang the lights and now I know. I love how you did your lights with the two boards attached! It will be a perfect way for me to hang ours and hold them steady. Thanks.

  3. we've sprouted some leaks in the past...just not leeks :) Happy growing!

  4. A south facing window! That's a sun room! You're blessed!

    There is scientific fact behind talking to plants, if I'm not mistaken. And Sam might be curious to know that when sunlight shines and birds sing in the morning it causes stomatas on the bottom of the leaves to open up and take in carbon dioxide. Just a fun FYI.

  5. Oh, that is funny! I have my seeds growing on my counter top in my kitchen because my little (almost) 2 year old will scatter them if I put them within her reach. Pretty? No. Classy? Not so much. Constructive and worth wile? You betcha! Good luck with your garden, I'm looking forward to more tips :)

  6. I would love to know if you have any good pickling tips... I grew some Persian Pickling Cucs this summer and want some dill pickles during the winter months... any recipes, tutorials or ideas???

    Farming by Faith,

  7. Cassandra, Thanks for your question! We do not do much in the area of pickling- except for pickling beets, so I'm sorry that I can't help you here. I've found that the Ball Canning books are a great place to learn the basics of canning something specific (like pickles) for the first time. Maybe you could start there? Best of luck!


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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