Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are We Really Saving Daylight?

This morning, I woke up late. The sky was overcast and the cat was not as insistent as usual about getting me out of bed, so I stayed in bed a lot longer than I might have. Plus, the clocks jumped ahead at 2 am, placing us squarely back into the time warp of Daylight Savings Time.

To me, Daylight Savings Time means a shift in "the day" (as in the workday) to start a little darker and end a little lighter. In my case, it's going to be just getting light outside when I get up for work and just getting dark when I leave work... until the days get longer, I'm still going to be spending the daylight hours indoors. So, there's really no "saving" of the daylight right now; the days are still too short for that.

I'll be more thankful for Daylight Savings Time once summer comes and the sun stays out long enough to enjoy an evening meal without electric lights. For the time being, I will settle for the cheery fluorescent glow from the lights over my seed-starting trays. These lights run about 14 hours a day (thank goodness that fluorescent bulbs are energy-efficient) to trick the baby plants into thinking that they are in a greenhouse and not an unfinished attic loft space.

I tried a new seed-starting medium this year, which I do not like very much, and so I will recommend using Pro-Mix, which I wish I had used instead. I have sets of black plastic 4-packs reused from last year, sitting in black plastic trays - I prefer the 4-packs to the 6-packs so that there is more space for roots to grow. Because this is the second year I'm using these trays, I washed and sanitized them to protect against any plant diseases - thanks to Minnesota Cooperative Extension for that advice. Later this spring, when the plants in the first four trays are big enough, they will go on the front porch, and I will plant more seedlings, trying out this trick to make seed-starting pots from newspaper.

Germination has been a little slow so far, because our house temperature is a little cold, but I'm not in a terrible rush. Even with a week of rainy, warm weather, we still have 2 feet of snow on the ground.

This is what 3-day old broccoli seedlings look like. It's really interesting that my mustard family plants all germinated first - Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are very cold-hardy, even in seed form apparently. These will be some of the first plants to go in the ground this spring.

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