Starting Seeds and a Hard Freeze

I had originally decided not to start seeds indoors this year, but, as I often do, I changed my mind.  On Sunday, I brought my grow lights out from the attic and set them up in the bird room (an extra bedroom on the second floor where I keep my parrots).  It has a vinyl plank floor so it will not be damaged by any accidental dampness.  Also the temperature stays nice and warm up there (it faces the west so it gets direct late afternoon sun- when we have it).

I bought some starter mix and some 3-inch peat pots.  In the past, I have used expandable peat pellets with success but you need to pot them up when the seedlings get to a certain size anyway, and I just decided to skip that and went directly to the larger pots.  I bought some disposable lasagna pans (they come with a nice domed plastic lid) and placed the pots in them after I watered them well and planted the seeds.  Each of the pans held 12 of the 3″ peat pots pretty snugly and they are cheaper than the “greenhouse kits” you can buy for starting seedlings indoors.  I adjusted the lights so that they are directly above the lid of the pans.  I plan to run the lights for 24 hours.  I’ve read conflicting information about the light timing, but from what I can tell there is no real consensus, so I’m sticking with 24 hours for now.  The birds will not be disturbed by the light.

I am starting some dahlias for the yard, Greek oregano, 2 types of basil, oriental poppies, orach, Thessaloniki tomatoes and a variety of cherry tomatoes (free seed with order from Baker Creek), and a few zinnias.  It’s a bit late to start tomato plants and other seeds for our climate, but I think they will still be ready to transplant at the end of April.

Last night we had what I hope to be our last hard freeze.  The temperature dropped to below 32 in most of the areas around Memphis.  I did not have a chance to go out and look at the outdoor plants this morning, but I am hoping everything escaped damage.  The only things that I am concerned about are the peonies that I neglected to cover last night and the peach tree flowers.

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