The Seed Nursery
Artificial lighting is a crucial ingredient to successfully start a garden from seed. After seeds sprout they need to be transferred to a very sunny location or under artificial lights for 8-12 hours a day. If seedlings do not get enough light they will look thin and leggy, or stringy. This is because they are exerting too much energy and stretching to reach for the light. In our nursery, we use T5 fluorescent lights and keep them about 2-4 inches away from the tops of the plants. At first we expected this to dramatically affect our energy bill, but as it turned out the seed nursery costs the same amount of money as it costs to run the air conditioners during the summer months – roughly $50/month.
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Seeds of Healthy Living
Although a seed nursery requires more attention and planning, we believe that it is more than worth the effort. Growing vegetables from seed affords us a much greater selection of plant varieties than if we were to buy from a home garden center. And perhaps more importantly, by growing our own crops from seed, we are certain that our harvest isn’t tainted by harmful pesticides. Pesticides are thought to be a main contributor in the tragic and dramatic loss of the honey bee population. Bees and other pollinator populations are being reduced to a fraction of what they were only a few years ago. This is dangerous because of the crucial role that the play in the food production process.
Gardeners Beware 2014, a study released by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, shows that 36 out of 71 (51%) of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contain neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides – a key contributor to recent bee colony collapses. Some of the flowers contained neonic levels high enough to kill bees outright while other positive samples contained at least two or more neonics.
Sadly, bees are not the only casualty of the pesticide plague. New scientific research strongly suggests that these pesticides are not only harming the bees, but could be linked to many of the diseases that are becoming ever more prevalent in our population, such as liver failure, urinary and bladder cancers, hypertension, thyroid disease, kidney disease, stroke, obesity, and an alarming number of other serious diseases (Journal of Organic Systems). Reports like this underline the importance of eating healthy, organic food. Make it even more rewarding by growing your own!