We (the kids and I) decided to garden and work through the next steps of one of our science projects (the one where we started seedlings via a DIY light hut). Since it’s April, the lettuce is ready to be planted outside. We’ve been hardening it off this last week by putting it outside for a few hours a day and then bringing it back inside at night when the weather is at its harshest.
Our job isn’t done with the lettuce though. All of the squash is ready for transplanting (we started that a bit too early but the seeds were perfect for demonstrating the germination process as well as providing a great visual for the parts of a seed).
But we had to make a cold frame for the lettuce because it is still really early in the season for our geographic area. There are so many out there you can buy or even build but this little DIY’er on a homeschool dime did this…
We just covered the lettuce for the evening/night hours with small pots.
But you could try cold frames like this if you’d prefer something that would accommodate a lot and eliminate the cycle of bringing the seedlings back in and out each day.
While I was visiting my parents for the Easter holiday I had the chance to take this pic of my father’s fantastic DIY seedling starting nursery. There are probably about 600 or more plants there (and he has a fancy cold frame outside housing the bigger plants like broccoli right now so this pic doesn’t even show ALL his babies).
This is a simple construction of shelving with hanging shop lights (purchased inexpensively at your home improvement store). My father has pimped it out by buying a seedling heating mat for several of the shelves as well as a small fan that helps rotate the heat. He has a reflective cover that he places in front of the shelves to maximize the light. Finally- he’s keeps the lights on a timer for 20 hours a day.
Our day with botany turned out great today! We learned:
- how to transplant seedlings into bigger pots
- how to prepare a flower/garden bed by adding nutrients and turning the soil with a hoe
- how to plant delicate seedlings, like lettuce, into a bed
- how to make a cold frame
- why seedlings need to harden off before planting them outside
- how to remove debris from flower beds and encourage new growth from existing perennials