First, I screened some perlite to remove the smaller pieces. The dust is too fine and causes more problems with water retention. I want coarse perlite. Since it's unavailable locally, I just toss the tiny particles into the compost bin.
Next, I used two blocks of dried coir. This is coconut fiber instead of peat moss. I like it better since it doesn't hold as much water as the peat blocks or mixes. I really only needed one. I should have done a simple calculation. Two blocks makes 8 quarts of material. I needed four.
Adding water makes the coir expand. I mixed in the coarse perlite for drainage and tossed it together.
In the other chamber, I have a strand of Christmas lights that will provide heat. A piece of screen keeps them in place.
On top of the screen, I added 20bs of cheap, clay cat litter. This is not the clumping kind. The cheaper, the better. The lights will heat the cat litter creating an even bottom heat. I used sand last year, but found it wasn't sterile. This should be much cleaner. It smells better too.
The 24 cups are filled. I only have 23 types of seeds, so one will be a duplicate. I'll probably do a couple beefsteaks since these are big tomatoes and great for slicing. I only have a few seeds of each, so for now, I'll sow 2 from each packet. I need to have some in case something goes wrong while I'm away this weekend.
The entire contraption is covered with another clear container to hold in humidity. Once I've sown the seeds, it'll be placed on the bottom rack of the light shelf. The seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.
Last year, I grew 8-12 varieties, depending on who you ask. This year, I've deliberately chosen only indeterminate types. These can be staked so that they take up less soil space. Some recommendations I've seen claim that they can be grown in a single square foot of space. I'll do a little better than that giving them about 2 square feet each. This year's varieties:
Yesterday, I napped a good portion of the afternoon. I woke up early this morning. I sowed 36 2-liter containers of less hardy varieties of seed.
Achillea "Colorado Mix"
Coreopsis "Mahogany Midget"
Red Texas Star Hibiscus
Pink Muhly Grass
Rudbeckia "Prairie Sun"
Honey Bee White
A mix from white/purple plants I grew last year
It's 41 degrees and raining. I'm going to spend the rest of the day working on projects inside the house. It should be my first day of vacation, but I've got to work tomorrow because of three large shrub orders that are scheduled to arrive. On Friday, I'll be leaving for Florida. When I return, the tomato seedlings should be popping up. Carla will be looking after things while I'm gone, including feeding the cat.