Before the reconfiguration of the east campus at the urban garden I was lucky enough to have a greenhouse which was used for propagation. I would grow out a lot of the summer annuals as well as propagating perennials and shrubs.
Today I will show you how we use to grow our own annual flowers. The first thing I did was to build a germination chamber. It was not an elaborate affair but suited our purpose very well. I constructed a box out of scrape plywood that was large enough to hold 6 flats of seeds. It was 16 inches high and had a fitted plexi-glass lid on it.
As you can see there were 4 light bulbs and sockets near the top of the germination chamber. The light bulbs were used as a heat source. The gray box in the middle of the picture is a 110 volt in line thermostat. Basically what the thermostat did was when the temperature would drop below 74 degrees in the chamber it would turn the light bulbs on until the temperature reached 74 degrees again.
Below is a picture of the chamber all set up and ready to work.The flats have been sown with pansy seeds in a sterile germination mix which we would purchase by the bale. After the seed were sown the flats were watered well and set in the germination chamber.
After placing the flats in the chamber the plexi-glass lid was placed on top to hold in the heat and the moisture. After about four days the pansies were starting to show . I lowered the temperature to 70 degrees and added a supplemental light source of florescent grow lights about 24 inches above the box that was on twelve hours a day. The florescent grow lights keep the seedlings from elongating and keeps them compact. See the picture below of the pansies at 4 days.
As you can see the pansies are up pretty quickly and will not take to long until they need to be placed into cell packs and moved to the greenhouse. At day 10the pansies look like they are ready to be moved out to the green house.
I move them out to the green house which is being kept at a temperature of 64 degrees and place them in a hardening off tent for a couple of days for them to adjust to the new environment.
This is a tent on one of the benches in the green house that we use to harden off the seedlings before we get ready to transplant them. They will stay in the tent about 4 days then get transplanted into cell packs and placed on the production benches.
When the seedlings are ready they are carefully picked up one by one and placed into individual calls in the cell packs. You must be careful to pick them up by their first leaves and not damage the stem when transplanting. This is the most tedious of task and yet at the same time the most critical.
The seedlings are now in cell packs ready to grow out. In the next post I will take you through the final phase which is growing out the new transplants.