29 January 2011

Grow light set-up and rosemary seeds

This is my first year growing seeds indoors. I was tempted to begin this new venture with an elaborate set-up but decided to starts slowly and cheaply. That way, if my plants fail, I won't be quite so upset.

I purchased a shop light and 2 fluorescent light tubes (1 warm and 1 cool). I also bought adjustable shelving, leaving the top of the unit shelf-less so the shop light could be perched there, since I didn't feel like hanging it from the ceiling. That's it! Now let's hope it's warm enough in my basement. I know I could buy a heated pad for the seedlings, but I want to try a minimal set-up first and adjust as needed next year.

It's still too early to start most of my seeds. However, I plan to grow several herbs indoors, so I decided to start with the notoriously slow-germinating ones: rosemary and sage. My sage has not yet germinated, and I've read that sometimes it takes well over a month.

As for rosemary, most sources (online and print) suggest that you start it from cuttings. I nevertheless decided to try growing it from seed, and purchased a packet of Franchi seeds (rosemary seeds are not that easy to find). Since I don't have my seed starting mix yet, I filled three pots with organic potting soil. I planted several seeds in each pot, which I loosely covered with plastic to keep everything moist. The seeds went in on Jan. 16, and last night (13 days later), I noticed the first signs of life -- all three of my pots had one germinated seed! Today, I moved them into my grow light set-up, which is pretty sparse at this early stage. Here's hoping they make it!

(I used a box to raise the tray of pots closer to the light.)

(Signs of rosemary life!)


  1. I definitely want to do a grow light system too! Good luck with the Rosemary and Sage. I've had zero luck with growing Rosemary from seed. I ended up buying a rosemary plant from a farmers market.

  2. I may end up buying a plant too if this fails badly. :)

  3. I grew rosemary from seed one year but have relied on cuttings from a long-gone community garden rosemary tree. Congratulations.

    When you have very fine seeds that must be covered and no seed starting mixture, try this: sow the seeds on top of your pretty-damp potting mix. Take some more potting mix (dry), and put it in a kitchen strainer, one with a fine mesh. Tap the potting mixture in the strainer over your seed starting tray until your seeds are covered. I did this with marjoram last year and could count my seedlings by the hundreds -- maybe even the thousands!

  4. This is great advice. Thanks so much!