Check Your Sump Pumps: Take 2

Last week I wrote about the problems which I found with my sump pumps. My black plastic pipes on the ground outside are still frozen under the snow and ice but the east side of my house has drain tile which terminates in a sump inside a basement closet. When I checked that sump hole on Saturday my pump was running but not pumping any water out because of the frozen pipe outside. I had to pull the pump out, change a fitting, hook up a garden hose, and lay out the basement door (walk-in basement). After I got the water pumped down I unplugged the pump and pulled the hose inside so I could shut the door. As of Monday morning, the sump hole had not refilled to the level I needed to put the hose out the door but I am certainly going to have to monitor it though. Keep checking your pumps!!!


Starting Plants Indoors

Do you need a greenhouse to start your own plants for transplanting when spring finally comes? Not unless you are going to commercialize your production and make your living from it. Starting your own plants is pretty simple. A container of some type, some potting mix, seeds, and light.

If you are only starting a couple of tomato plants for a planter on your deck chances are good that you have at least one window in your house that may provide enough light. For a few more you might get by with an LED desk lamp on your dining room table. I start my plants with four-foot-long hanging shop lights in my basement. I started with fluorescent lights but now also use LED lights. I’ve tried using the more expensive “grow lights” but have not seen any noticeable difference except a higher cost to purchase.  Different plant species do respond differently to different light color spectrums but unless you are doing only one or two species it doesn’t seem to be worthwhile to provide specific light spectrums.

Containers? Most preferable is some type of tiered or nesting container system just so you can have good drainage through the container with the potting mix and still catch any excess water. That can be as simple as some cut-off milk or juice jugs with holes poked in them setting in an old cake pan.

Seeds? You may have saved seeds from your garden or you may purchase packets of seeds online or at a local store. Unless you are planning a very large garden, single packets of vegetable varieties will likely be far more seed than you need. I often save open packets of seed for several years. Most vegetable and flower seed is easily stored in a dry dark environment like a closet shelf or garage cabinet. I currently have pepper seedlings and cabbage seedlings growing in my basement from seeds purchased in 2017. ( I also had one container of a cabbage variety from 2015 which I seeded two weeks ago and have had zero emergence). If you have any concerns about the germination of old seeds just try a few seeds early enough to replant without being too late.

Tempee Different plants like different growing conditions. This is probably the toughest issue for me. My basement is too warm for my cool-season vegetables like cabbages, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. They tend to grow a little too fast for the amount of light I can provide and get quite “leggy” with weak stems. Using a fan to provide them with some “wind” helps keep them stronger. Warm season plants like peppers and tomatoes love the warm temperature and do very well. They especially like my heated floor. I place the flats with planted seeds on my floor for a couple of days and get very quick emergence.

I currently have cabbage, petunias, and peppers which are emerged, and more peppers, tomatoes, and marigolds which should emerge in the next few days.