We still have not heard about the grant for the fencing, but I am setting a meeting for this Sunday (March 29) at 4pm in the caretakers house. Let's be done by 6pm. Please RSVP.
The incandescent tube lighting plan really works ! The LED's don't generate any heat, but you can still get incandescent rope lights. I had a lovely Sunday evening poking around in new dirt and figuring out how to set up the seed starting routine. I got dirt under my nails for the first time of the season and felt oddly garden-esque in the dark basement surrounded by the smell of clean soil. See the pictures above. The whole thing (except the table) cost about $20 to heat four flats, instead of about $90 for official heat mats.
Some of you know that keeping the flats warm in a cost-effective way has been an issue. I got an idea from online to use the tube lighting, and by today the 4 flats sitting on the set-up were at a nice 70 degrees.So volunteers can now come and I can give them seeding tasks to do in my basement - I had to figure it out myself first. We need to sort our various flats & pots by size, dunk last year's flats in a light bleach tub to sterilize them, then dunk them in a clean water and let them dry a little. And we have LOTS of seeds to get started!
I taped the loops of rope lights to the insulating board underneath. The lights are cheap - 18' for $13, 48' for $30 I think. I used an 18' rope on a 4'x2' table, got 4.5 loops out of it - plenty. And somewhere I read that some people bury them in the ground in high tunnels to generate cheap soil warmth. In case that's useful -
Starting at the bottom, the layers are: 1. plastic table
2. thin insulating board
3. incandesent lighting taped down
4. thin sheetrock (it holds & distributes the heat, lets it build up keeps
it from being lost to the cold air)
5. plastic cover so water doesn't soak into the sheetrock - an old plastic shower curtain would work
Are we going to do a plant give-away at some point? We need to plant more seeds to accomodate that. I think it's a good idea to do, but am a little worried about having greenhouse space for seedlings in a month or so. Does anyone have greenhouse or warm high tunnel access?
Also, I stopped by the garden today to see what it looked like. The ground is frozen at the moment, but the winter wheat grew nicely - it's about 4" long. Most the ground is bare, with parts still covered in snow/ice. The cemetery has piled up more leaves since the fall, plus a pile of what seems to be evergreen trimmings. For some perspective, last year we planted peas & lettuce April 12. We shall see about this year. A few more pix from today at the Vale are posted at the top of the page.
Remember to let me know about Sunday - and contact me about a time you can come play in the dirt in my basement. (Since the flats get dunked in mild bleach, don't wear good clothes - it splatters a bit when you wash them)