We start all our annuals from seed. The seed packets are ordered from Stokes (http://www.stokeseeds.com/) and Dominion Seeds (http://www.dominion-seed-house.com/) the first or second week in January each year.
Germination trays are set up in the workroom downstairs under full spectrum fluorescent lights. We invested in a steel rack and light assembly, but you can also build one yourself – check out this link:
For years we used redi-earth germination mix – a fine blend of peat, vermiculite and other soilless material. But it doesn’t seem to be available anymore, so we’ve switched to Sunshine germination mix #3 which is available from our good friends at the Greenhouse at Cliffside (http://www.thegreenhouse.yk.net/). The mix comes in big black plastic bales, and is a bit pricey – but worth it!
Once the seedlings are ready for transplanting, Susan sets up the cellpacks and gets to work. For the past two years she has transplanted over 2500 seedlings each spring.
The trays then go into the greenhouse – usually by mid April. However, the nights are still cold enough to freeze off the new plants. So we start the daily ritual of moving the trays from the greenhouse into the adjoining shed each evening where they stay overnight. A small electrical heater is enough to keep them warm. Then in the morning when it’s warm enough in the greenhouse again, out they go. This continues until nighttime temperatures are above freezing.
We start planting out during the first week of June. But if there is a full moon before mid June, we wait until the new moon before planting out. It’s based on a bit of folklore, we know, but it seems to work.