Outdoor Setup
For Victoria Seedlings

By Kit & Ben Knotts - Click images to enlarge

Because we have limited space indoors and hope to experiment with lots of seedlings, we have created space to grow our seedlings outdoors. Though we don't get all that cold here, we remember that a similar setup worked well for Butch Weaver in Colorado - in the snow!

We have two 90 gallon galvanized stock tanks, placed for maximum winter sun. They are not quite level to allow for drainage off one end and are wrapped with Pink Panther insulation. Each has a 1500 watt stock tank heater from Nasco, one set at 85F for growth and the other set at 75F for maintenance of several juvenile plants we hope to over-winter.

THIS IS THE ONLY STOCK TANK HEATER WITH A THERMOSTAT THAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND! The usual stock tank heater is really just a de-icer, keeping the water above freezing. Several submersible aquarium heaters can also be used to heat this quantity of water. A side note: the heater pictured is several years old and has rusted in our salty environment, but it still works fine.

Each tank has racks, made of coated wire products from the closet department of WalMart, to elevate the plants about 12" from the surface. We use plastic shoeboxes, also from WalMart to hold the 3 ounce Solo seedling cups - each container will hold 15 cups. Each tank also has a pool thermometer, native fish, ramshorn snails and Nitella, an advanced form of algae that is an effective and rather attractive "underwater grass".

We made a frame of 2-by-4's rather than the hoops we've used in the past, thinking we might add a light and a fan, and have covered the frame with sheet plastic. The height of the "teepee" and slightly open ends are allowing adequate air circulation so that condensation doesn't accumulate on the pads, an invitation for fungus attacks. We so far are not seeing a need for supplemental light even though the tanks only receive about 6 hours of sun. We may still add a weatherproof fluorescent shop light that we found available at Home Depot.

The tanks are near a stream which is quite near our well water source. A small pump in the stream supplies a constant trickle to both tanks. We have found this to be VERY important! Last year and earlier this seedling season we made the 25% weekly water change that we have previously recommended and still had substantial loss of seedlings due to "melt" and lots of algae. Let us say again that alga in itself does not harm Victoria seedlings but can be a symptom of an unbalanced environment. Once we established the small but constant flow to the tanks, the algae cleared up and seedlings stopped melting. We are still early in the seedling process for this year but think this flow may be the next critically important element for success.

To recap things we think are REALLY important indoors or outdoors:
  Water that is 85F (29C) or higher for starting seeds and growing young seedlings

We added a sturdy structure
and another tank (at rear)
in the fall of 2003 in case we
needed to supplement the light
with a heavy fixture. We found
we didn't need it.
    Nicking of seeds of certain varieties and lots 
    Water exchanges of 25% twice a week or a small flow through the aquarium or tank 
    Good light and good air circulation 
    A bland planting medium, preferably sand 
    Pots or cups with holes in the bottom 
    A specially designed nutrient package given weakly weekly, preferably the Cocktail

Within The Victoria Section . . .

 Introduction to Victoria

 Victoria's History

 Index to

Image Galleries

Identification of Varieties


 Gardens That Display Victoria



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