I mentioned in my 2016 garden update post that the sunroom seed starting last year didn't go that well, and I plan to change things a bit to improve that. Here is the sunroom I am using to start our garden seeds. Photo taken the other day on a sunny, late winter day, as sun angle is starting to increase.
As you can see, I didn't tidy up for the photo, lots of things to notice. Firewood stacks, potting soil bags, self watering containers with herbs that stay green all winter, the big windows that admit sun into the living room, and even a treadmill so my wife can get the blood moving in the dead of winter. We have a big sliding door in to the room, and on sunny winter days, we have even left the door open to let warmer air in to the house.
A bit of history on the sun room. When we started looking for a small farm in this area, we soon found that real estate websites were a good way to get a feel for price ranges and features we might be able to afford (without spending hours traveling).
Originally, I had wanted to just buy open land, and build a house and everything else from scratch. Arranging everything on permaculture principles and our own ideas sounded great. The farm we saw on the internet and ended up buying had a house, but the house had enough positive feature that I gave up on my dream of building my own house. Looking back, it was a very lucky turn of events, as house building while still working a full time job would have been a nightmare.
The sunroom was one of the features that sold us on the house ( I have already talked about the attached root cellar). The sunroom runs the full length of the south face of the house, and captures solar heat quite well. Large windows between the sunroom and the living space also admit lots of light during the winter. I might go in to more detail later on how and why I ended up rebuilding it, but that's another story.
Starting seeds in here- Because of how I designed the roof overhang, the room actually gets the least direct sunlight during summer, when you don't need it, and gets lots of light during winter and the "shoulder months". The problem is that during nights, temperatures can still get too cold for seedlings to germinate or thrive, so I have used heat mats in the past, but not enough. I will use them even more this time. They are powered through a thermostat, so only come on at night when needed.
Like this one:
A future project is to possibly install thermal blinds on the
large outer windows to close at night, and fill some barrels with water to soak up heat during the day and release it during the night. Till then, I will unfortunately be using a lot of watts.
As I finally post this, the onion seeds have all germinated, and are looking good. Brassicas will be next to start in about two weeks.
Our first planting in the soil will be peas and potatoes, but the soil isn't quite ready for them yet. Can't wait!