A great new addition on the farm this year is our new produce trailer. It will be able to hold more trays than our van or pick up truck and we are installing a cooler system in it as well. It will be great to bring to market so we can bring more and keep the produce cool.
We bought it last fall and have gotten it insulated and now we just need to install the AC unit and coolbot system. However, before we put in the AC unit, I’ve been using the trailer as a place to germinate my seeds in the greenhouse.
The germination chamber is set up with a temperature controlled heater and a humidifier. I keep the temperature in the low 80s and if I can keep water in the humidifier the humidity is also in the 80s. Unfortunately, I am just using a humidifier we had gotten for my kids when they were younger and the water is gone after 8 or so hours… Another farmer friend had passed on this set up, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed by it. However, I think it would be worth putting together now that I am having a hard time keeping the humidity up with my one small humidifier.
So far it has been a great tool to get things started quicker. I’ve mostly had onions starting so far, but they have come up much quicker. Normally, the onions would take around a week to start germinating. With the germination chamber I had one variety of onions start popping up just after 3 days.
One thing that has been interesting through this new process is looking at what is the ideal temperature for certain plants to germinate. Not everything germinates quicker with heat and high humidity, some plants like lettuce want to germinate at temperatures in the 60s. The seeds will actually become dormant if the temperature is too high. This can make it difficult to start lettuce seeds in the summer when the greenhouse is commonly over 80 in the day time. I have had to move lettuce trays in to the barn so they can have a few days of coolness to get started.
I always knew that plants like tomatoes and peppers need heat to germinate, we’ve always used heat mats for these plants. However, I didn’t know that onions would benefit from higher heat at germination. One of the seed catalogs I use for ordering seeds has a graph of ideal temperatures for each plant. This has been super helpful to use as a guide for what can go in the germination chamber and what shouldn’t.
Ideally, it might be nice to have two or three germination chambers. One for each heat level 80s, 70s, and 60s. One has been nice though, I’ve been using my old heat mats if I need anything different. It has been a fun new project to work though and has been helpful.