So far this year my daughter and I have sowed seeds (indoors) of Johnny jump ups (Viola 'Helen Mount'), black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata 'Spanish Eyes Mix'; shown), French marigolds (Tagetes patula 'Sparky Mix') and nasturtiums (Tropaeolum nanum 'Jewel Mix'). We may have gone overboard, given our growing space and the amount of watering I find myself doing every morning (while my accomplice sits back and watches Barney, which is actually a good thing for my floors). Yet we have one packet left to do—some cosmos—and we will follow through with them!
We've been much more successful than I thought we would be—ended up with sprouts in every pot! Everything seems to be doing well, particularly the black-eyed Susan vine, which are Juliet's favorite, probably because they are the biggest. Interestingly, the seed leaves on most of those stayed fully or partially underground. I don't know if this is normal or if we planted the seeds too deep, or what. Either way, the seedlings seem happy.
The Johnny jump ups, on the other hand, have been very slow to put on any growth. They had the earliest sowing time, which I thought was because they also can go out into the garden earliest, but maybe it's also because they grow so slowly. They are at last forming some true leaves. My husband, whom previous readers of this blog may recall has no interest in gardening, surprised me by saying "Maybe there aren't enough nutrients in that soil." We used a soil-less seed-starting mix, and I have bought some houseplant food, which I plan to apply at half-strength this week.
All of these seedlings brought about the need for more light than my very small "real" grow light could provide, so we set up an additional layer. The building credit goes to the non-gardening husband! The whole setup cost about $50.
We got a shop light and two light bulbs plus a metal shelving unit from Home Depot, similar to one I was already using in the laundry area. (Unfortunately they don't quite match, one being a two-shelf unit and the other a three-shelf unit, but it just makes things a little off kilter.)
He put the units side by side and then hung the shop light over the bottom shelves. It came with chains and S-hooks to attach it to a ceiling or whatever, but all he had to do was loop the chain around the second shelf and then hook it back onto the S-hook attached to the lighting unit.
I did notice the electric bill went up about $10/month since we turned the lights on, but I still think I'm doing better budget-wise than if I were to buy annuals as transplants. (I'm not counting the $50 for the light setup since we can use it every year, and in the off-season I also plan to move the metal shelves into the cellar for storage use.)