Sprouts. Some with their seed cases still hanging on. 
Pretty amazing how that whole plant fit inside that little seed huh?


The seed cabinet is working great after a couple of operator hiccups.

Initially I had rigid foam insulation on the front and decided to replace it with some double-wall poly I scrounged so the sprouts could get some sunlight. After a week of overcast skies the sun came out and heated the cabinet somewhere over 120* according to the recording thermometer - I thought I'd cooked $40 worth of seeds.

Although spotty in a couple of places just about everything has germinated - I may have cooked some of the cabbage a bit early but I think we're going to be OK.

Forming soil blocks and planting seeds

Making Blocks

Here is the setup setup, in the metal tray on the right is the soil-LESS mix (peat/pearlite/sand) I use for blocks. After experimenting a little with ratio and moisture to get the blocks to hold together, packing the soil into the maker and extruding them onto your substrate goes pretty fast. I use a plastic sheet like the stuff to put on bathroom walls and a heavy piece of sheet metal to move it between the bench and cabinet.

Then just place one seed in the little dimple in the top of the blocks (you can sort of see it in the inset photo) and cover with just a very light sprinkling of soil. Part of the deal with soil blocks is that the growing roots won't grow out into the air but instead wait till the block is planted into a container. If so much soil is used that the spaces between the blocks is filled the roots just continue growing and intertwine and generally make a mess.

Here is the working part of the cabinet. 
You can see the thermocouple (the temp sensor portion of the thermostat) is buried in some soil and covered with a square of plastic to keep the soil damp and the same temperature as the soil blocks. If it were to be just dangling in the open air it would be cooler than the soil blocks and make the heat mat stay too hot.

I use a recording thermometer, which of course, records the highest and lowest temperatures. Obviously it doesn't do any good if you've already cooked or frozen your seedlings but it does let you know if the thermostat is doing it's job.

And on the inset you can sorta see the polycarb sheet on the front of the lid and the shade screen Susan stapled on to keep me from turning the cabinet into a Sahara terrarium!

Growing Seedlings

On each sheet of plastic is a grid so each set of soil 20 blocks is identified; A1, A2, A3, etc. As the seeds are "planted" I make a note of what grid they are on so they can be identified down the line.

Ideally, cool season crops would be set on a second shelf where the soil would be cooler and hot season plants like tomatoes, peppers, etc would be right on the mat, they like temps above 70*. Thay will come in time I hope. My next project is to hang a fluorescent grow light in the cabinet (should have already done that...)

BTW, you can see loose soil around the edges of the blocks, it's there to help keep the blocks moist. 

Sprouting soil blocks on plastic sheets in the cabinet on the heating mat.
There are over 1,200 plants here!

Everything is heirloom this year. The closest seedlings are tomatoes, 12 varieties plus some tomatillos and ground cherries, then some cauliflower and other brassicas and on the far end are peppers, eggplant kale and whatall.


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