After I set up my 'experiment', I found that many of you were doing the same thing. I'm happy to say, though, that I found this on my own, setting it up thinking surely 'real' gardeners don't use 'ready-made' kits!! How excited I was to learn that I wasn't alone!
Once I added water and the pellets puffed up, I loosened (around the edges) the netting that holds the peat together.
Then I planted the seeds I decided to use (about 3 per pellet), wrote out the I.D. tags, and placed them in the pellets to designate what's in each row.
The seeds I planted are Spreading Petunia, Salvia, Lobelia, Rock Soapwort, Texas Bluebonnet, Johnny Jump Up (Viola) and a few Wildflower seeds. (The Wildflowers are just for fun & could have waited to be scattered outside, but in case nothing else popped up, I wanted to have something to feel good about!).
Next I placed the tray on the Heating Mat that came with the kit (above) and then I placed the plastic cover over it (below). I added some tape to each side just to make sure the top doesn't get knocked off. Doesn't it look all neat and tidy?After a brief period of time, condensation formed on the lid and I knew things were working as planned.
Fast forward 2 days, and the wildflowers were beginning to sprout (no surprise there).
A couple of days later and they needed to be removed. Once seedlings are up they should be uncovered...but how could I uncover the whole tray for just a few plants? So, I placed sprouted seedlings into slightly larger bio-degradable peat pots, filling them with organic soil mix.
Then, I partially covered them, leaving air flow through from the outside. I placed these on the cover of the original seedtray, hoping some warmth might pass through. After a day, I needed to remove the salvia from the enclosed tray because it's seedlings did not need to be covered all the time. A few petunia seedlings were ready to leave the original tray at this time, as well.
Now all I do is watch and wait. I keep an eye on the seedlings, and am trying to find the best light source for them. Right now I rotate them between under-counter florescent lights and the sunlit window. I cover it loosely--for part of each day--and will gradually remove this altogether. I am probably going to get some plant lights and put them under a shelf in my basement. Then I'll be set up properly to handle more pottings and emerging seedlings. I plan to plant more petunia and salvia seeds. I think they will be the most practical for me so I hope they'll do well.
As more and more seedlings appear and are ready to transfer out of the 'incubator', I will continue to put them in the larger pots and nurture. It's way too early to set them outside to harden off. So I'm wondering, how long can they stay inside without getting too leggy? Did I start too early with some types of seeds?
--Today I am thankful for the miracle of seeds.