seed starting

So I’ve been working on my seed-starting setup, and I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to get for equipment.

I can’t ever just buy anything – I am compelled to research each product and get the best price possible (not necessarily the cheapest item, but the best price for the best product) so it always takes me a little time before I’ve decided what I want.

I’ve been using information provided by some of my favorite garden bloggers to see what goes into a good setup. The most informative post I’ve seen so far is at You Grow Girl. I’ve also found a ton of information in the SeedChat archives and on Twitter.

First item: 18″x48″x72″ shelving unit. The best deal I’ve found is this one, which I can even pick up at my local store and not have to wait for.

Perfect Home Commercial Grade Decorative Wire 6-Shelf Chrome finish Shelving Storage Unit

Shelf: $100

Next we need lights. I’m planning for three shelves of plants and it looks like it’s best to use two lights per shelf, so that’s six lights. I could get some ubercheap ones for about half the price, but those only take T12 bulbs and T8 bulbs are better in a lot of ways (more efficient, better output), so I think it’s worth it to shell out extra bucks for these. I’ll end up saving money in energy and bulbs in the long run.

Lights: $20 x 6 = $120

Lithonia Lighting All Weather 4 Ft. 2 Light T8 Fluorescent Unit Shop light

The reviews say that the included hardware includes chains and hooks, so that should be set.

Then I’ll need the bulbs for those fixtures. The fixtures I picked use T8 bulbs which are pretty common and, for regular fluorescent, aren’t pricey. According to the bloggers, you can get away with regular bulbs for tiny seedlings, but then you need better bulbs when the seedlings get a little bigger. These sunshine bulbs are about the same price as regular bulbs, though, so I’m going to go with those to start with. I’ve seen a number of garden discussions online in which people say they’ve had good luck with those bulbs.

Bulbs: $7 x 6 = $42

To keep those lights going for the appropriate amount of time each day, a timer is handy. There are a ton of them available in-store at Lowe’s and Home Depot but the online information is incomplete (will it accept a 3-prong plug? is it rated for heavy duty use? etc.) so I’ll look at the store and see what I find. Should be able to do that for $20 or less. I already have a spare power strip to use for the lights.

Timer: $20

Next up: heat mats. I may or may not end up buying heat mats. I’m not convinced that I absolutely need them, and they’re not cheap (unless anyone out there has any you want to sell me at a discount!). For the moment I’m not planning to buy any, but we’ll see.

For vessels, I’m going to make my own from newspaper. I like the idea that the newspaper pots can just be transplanted right into the garden and then decompose on their own. I still have a bunch of old library newspapers left from when we smothered the front lawn, woot. I’ll buy some ingredients to make some starting medium – the compost pile is too frozen to use right now (next year I’ll plan ahead). I’ll also need some trays to hold those newspaper pots to make watering easy.

So we have:
Shelf:                       $100
Lights: $20 x 6 =  $120
Bulbs:  $7 x 6 =      $42
Timer:                      $20

TOTAL:                  $282 plus trays, medium, and incidentals

$300 seems like a pretty decent price to make this kind of seed-starting setup. I know that I’ll use it for years, so the equipment will pay for itself eventually. I can’t get seedlings of the sort that I want (organic, non-GMO, heirloom varieties) locally and this way I’ll have a head start from where I’ve been in years past with direct-sowing in the garden. The kits that include this type of equipment that I’ve seen online are at least as expensive, aren’t necessarily as energy-efficient, and have various other factors I don’t like that you can’t change because it comes as a bundle. So, here’s to DIY!

Of course, if any of you gardeners have done this before and have advice, please chime in! I’m off to hunt for in-person coupons for Home Depot and Lowe’s before I make any purchases.

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the future of BBYA

When I arrived at ALA Annual this year, I had no idea that there would be such controversy about one of the time-honored traditions most valued by many of my closest colleagues: Best Books for Young Adults.

The YALSA Board had on their agenda an action item (later changed to a discussion item) proposal to sunset the BBYA committee. There was a lot of talk about what was happening, and a lot of misinformation by word of mouth and online (see this YALSA post and comments for more information). The YALSA Board rearranged their agenda so that most people would be free to come to the meeting at which they would have this discussion, and allowed for concerned YALSA members to make public comment. I live-tweeted it for a few folks who had asked me to let them know what was happening since they could not attend (read this from bottom to top for chronological order):

  • Debraski thanks all for comments and respectful discussion #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:55 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • ALAN uses bbya a lot! #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:54 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Walter Mayes: ducation of members is key – all other factors will fall into place #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:53 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Kim Paone (sp?): keep the teens in mind when deciding #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:51 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Cindy Dobrez: hope members can be part of process of figuring thisout #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:50 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Mik (sp?): want to hear more comments from teens #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:49 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Rolley (sp?): problem is reading load, lots of specific ideas #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:48 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Observation: few ppl are offering solutions #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:47 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Lynn Rutan: lots of solutions, need 2 figure out wht the problem rlly is. Wrong ppl 4 committee? 2 many books? #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:46 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Joni Bodart: divide list between teens and tweens #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:44 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Comments limited to 1 minute due to time constraints #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:43 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Judy Nelson: question of process not authenticity #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:42 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Silverman: if we can cut number of. Books, other issues may disappear #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:41 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Silverman: require observation of bbya before coming on committee #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:41 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Karyn Silverman: most critical issue is education of bbya members #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:40 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Debraski: Readers Choice List totally separate from this discussion #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:39 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Lisa Von Drasek: if we rely on someone else, we lose authority #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:38 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Patti Campbell: nf to Seibert, adult to Alex #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:35 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Saxton: complicate nomination process to reduce# of books #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:35 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Beth Saxton: use bbya for training tool for teen libns, to educate teachers, to reassure parents #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:33 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Hayes: bbya provides support for challenges #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:32 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Hayes, current chair of bbya: need to broaden field comments, 3 committees too much for any 1 yalsa member #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:31 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Little Brown publisher: pubs look to the list for the little book that could, to advocate for books #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:29 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member idea: send task force to all selection committees to educate #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:28 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Member Nick Buron – tweak and keep #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:27 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Observers limited to 2 minutes here, wiki comments welcome #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:25 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Observers lining up to comment #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:24 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Sense of frustration in the room that some observers didn’t read publically available board docs #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:23 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Gorman: board is looking for member ideas for solutions, not just love for bbya #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:22 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Board has heard concerns about bbya for years #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:20 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Debraski: has bbya become so beloved that we’re missing opportunity to improve? #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:20 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Braun: how do we balance what ppl love with what new members want? #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:19 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Braun urges thought about moving forward, how yalsa sees ourselves vs how external world sees it #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:18 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Hastler looking for way to respond to concerns about workload, conference attendance #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:16 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Rutherford and Schofer both leaning toward retaining bbya with changes #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:15 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Rutherford looks for how to keep bbya fandom while keeping it lithe useful tool #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:14 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Board member Rutherford notes importance of bbya’s fandom – no other committees have that as yet #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:14 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Board member Welch thanks members observing, notes board is here as conduit #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:12 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Battisti also notes that yalsa is known for bbya #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:11 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Battisti also notes that discussion is also training ground and developmental benefit for comm members #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:10 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Battisti concerned about some statements in rationale, esp re: usefulness #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:09 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Board member Michele Gorman notes importance of education aspect #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:06 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Board members taking turns stating opinions first #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:05 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • #bbya changed to discussion item on agenda (was action item) #ala2009 #yalsa #bbya12:05 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • Discussion starting by #yalsa board on #bbya #ala200912:03 PM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • The #yalsa board is waiting until 11 to discuss #bbya so you have <10 minutes to get here. Room to sit on the floor or stand #ala200911:54 AM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • People trickling in to #yalsa board meeting. Not discussing #bbya yet #ala200911:43 AM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • At the #yalsa board meeting to find out the real story on #bbya controversy #ala200911:26 AM Jul 13th from UberTwitter
  • (my apologies to those folks whose names I misspelled or got wrong)

    My personal feeling about what will happen is this: I think that BBYA will continue to exist but with some changes. The suggestions I heard that make most sense to me:

    • Limit the potential nominations by leaving adult books to Alex, graphic novels to Great Graphic Novels, and non-fiction to the new YALSA Non-fiction Award.
    • Increase the education/awareness of commitment for BBYA committee members. I support the concept of requiring a potential committee member to attend a year’s worth of meetings as an observer before even being put on the list of potential appointees (e.g. make 1 year of observation a pre-requisite to volunteering for the committee).

    Stay tuned for more updates on what happens next!

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