It's been just three days since I started some cold-season greens for the salad table I"m working on, and already sprouts are poking up out of the seed starting cells! The lettuces and the chinese cabbage seem to be the first out of the gate, followed closely by the Bright Lights Chard. For onions, I dug through our very last of the shallots from Fall 2006, and found many that were still firm and sproutable. So I took a couple of dozen of them and pressed them lightly into some moist potting soil so they could begin to take root while I finish putting the main planting boxes together. I checked today and found they are almost all sprouting new white roots - I can't believe these things are over a year old. I'm beginning to think this project just might work out after all!
I've been doing some research, and have decided to modify my setup a bit. I'm going to put a couple of shallow storage tubs on the plastic table, and inside those tubs, set four rows of cut pvc pipe with drain holes. That's to form a water and air reservoir for the grow bags I'm planning to set on top. Each bag will straddle a pipe, with the perforated ends of each bag sagging/dipping down over the perf pipe into the water. The tubs I'm planning to use are clear, which might cause an algae problem after a while, but will also make seeing which tubs need refilling a bit easier. I'm using grow bags because I can swap them in and out of the table and light setup as needed, as plants become too tired to produce or try to go to seed on me - that way what is under the lamps is always fresh and at its peak. If I planted directly in the tubs, I'd have to dump the whole thing and replant, and that's harder to do, messier, and lowers overall productivity.
I have four kinds of spinach, 8 kinds of lettuce, some Red Russian Kale, Bright Lights Chard, and Tah Tsai chinese greens in the seed starting units. As soon as these are out, I'll likely start some herbs. The salad greens should be ready to transplant in a couple more weeks. By then, I should have the table, watering reservoirs and lights all set up and ready to receive them. I figure with luck, a month after that I'll be eating home grown salads again. Crossing my fingers, and I'll be sure to post pictures and updates as things progress!