Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Onion and leek seedlings

The onion and leek seeds just sat there in the soil from January 30 to this past Monday (February 7).  Then, Monday night I spotted the first thin spindly shoot popping up.  But only one in each flat!  Tuesday morning it looked like every pocket had at least one seedling showing up and several seedlings were a couple of inches tall already.
Evergreen hardy white bunching onion and King Seig leek seedlings
DH had already set up the lights so I carefully watered everyone and put them under the shoplights yesterday (February 8).  Set the flats on top of empty flats in order to get the little seedlings within 2 inches of the bulbs -- want to make sure they don't stay spindly by stretching too far for the (artificial) sun.  We want strong healthy onion seedlings to transplant outside when it's time.  DH will set up a small table fan in the next few days so it will blow across the flats (on low) and that will help strengthen the shoots, too.

The photos show the two flats DH seeded on the 30th.  He used egg cartons filled with sterile seed-starting medium and set them in the plastic flats we used last year.  They don't hold as much as the little mesh "pots" that came in the flats originally but they're functional and free.  The flats come with clear plastic lids but I've found you have to be careful leaving the lids in place after planting.  The idea of keeping in the moisture may be a good one, but the minute the seeds start to sprout we have to remove the lids or the tall seedlings bump into the "glass ceiling."  And the heavy condensation that can form on the lids sometimes causes fuzzy mold (mildew?) to develop on the once-sterile soil.  So we keep a water-filled misting bottle on the counter beside the seedlings and I just spritz them heavily several times a day.  And sometimes I water them from the bottom, too.  Especially after the seedlings have developed their leaves.  They need lots of water to maintain growth.
Australian brown onion seedlings
The Australian brown onion, bunching onion and leeks came from Southern Exposure. The Southport red globe onion seeds I ordered from Pinetree are on backorder. Hope to get them soon as we're still in the experimental stage with onions for storage and I'd like to try with onions what we can do with potatoes -- plant an early crop for fresh eating and a later (but not too much later) crop for fall storage.


Tanya said...

Oh your onions and leeks look so wonderful! Can't wait to get started on my seedlings too.

Carolyn at Walnut Spinney said...

Those seedlings have grown a lot in just a day -- they make happy just looking at them! :D