Helping beginners


It occurs to me that one thing that proves daunting to beginners
(of which I was one - yes! - not that long ago) is that they lack the
physical set-up which the rest of us develop over the years.  For 
example, when I'm saying that seed-sowing is easy, I'm saying this
from the perspective of someone who has, in her basement, right there
where she can wander down after dinner and play:

1 3-bay stainless-steel sink w/spray attachment and portable shelves
to set over the bays and use as work areas (plastic, drain-thru shelves)

A whole lot of fluorescent lights, mounted on wooden frames for easy
raising/lowering (and a bunch of old tables under them, including
one defunct pingpong table)

Work tables beside the sink

Several large plastic bins which hold germination mix, potting mix,
and pure grit

A couple of bins to hold discarded medium, plants, etc (compost)

Stacks of trays, pots, etc (useful information: Kord 3 1/2" square
pots fit exactly, 18 to the tray, in a standard 1020 tray (which I think
is actually 11 1/2" x 21 1/2") - and I'm a big fan of standardizing pot
and tray sizes rather than using yoghurt containers :-), but that's
a practical viewpoint based on volume, not philosophy)

Plastic labels (again, standard commercial stakes), pencils, Sharpie
pens, watering can, fertilizer, turkey baster (waters little things),
quart sprayers labelled w/contents ("Water only", "Safer's Insecticidal
Soap", "Captan"), fertilizer, fungicide, bleach (for soaking old pots),
etc.

A little stainless steel gizmo for pricking out seedlings (forget the
name, but it's great - could look it up)

Smooth-sided plastic cups for soaking seeds

And last but not least, a fantastic poured-concrete c. 1914 basement;
a nasty, spider-infested hole by some accounts, but plant heaven - never
too hot or cold

So to those who are beginning, I would say that you'll help yourselves
considerably by developing a permanent workspace where everything
you need is close at hand, and you can make a mess without getting anyone
else upset.  It doesn't have to be vast in scale, but it just helps
immensely to have everything you need within reach and ready to go.

Ellen


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