while feeding my fish this morning i was startled to discover some seedlings had emerged in my makeshift nursery. like a father with a wife who's water just broke, i immediately rushed into emergency mode, turning on the fluorescent lights in my grow closet and relocating the seedling pots to their new home. it must've happened overnight because i've been checking many times each day and haven't seen any germination action until now. they were all cypress vines, which i didn't actually plant until wednesday because i left them to soak overnight the day before. this being saturday, it took them just 4 days to sprout; kind of surprisingly, considering the instruction on the back of the seed packet estimated 7-21 days. apparently the presoak was the deciding factor because none of my other plants have come out yet. out of the 4 cups, all had seedlings except one (it might just be a late bloomer), but i moved them all anyway. group A (for the sake of science i had to name them) had the biggest seedling, and i paired that with group D, the cup that had nothing, and put them under the red/blue fluorescents on the top shelf. group B had 2 sprouts next to each other, similar to group C, but C had one in the center and one right on the side of the container. B & C i placed on the bottom shelf under the kitchen & bath fluorescents.

before we continue, i realize some folks might not know anything about the cypress vine. up to a few days ago, i didn't really know what they were either. i've seen them before though, out of all places, in xishuangbanna china, at the damenglong manfeilong pagoda (near damenglong). the plant has delicate fern-like leaves and small (size of a quarter) red flowers. up to that point i've never seen them before but i think i was most impressed by the fact that they reminded me of the stars on a communist china flag (although if you want to split hairs, they're actually yellow stars on a red background). i snapped a few souvenir photos and forgot about them. later, after i came back home, my father saw the photos and remembered seeing them in taiwan. so imagine my surprise when browsing the seed display at home depot i came across a packet of seeds that looked remarkably like the mysterious flower i saw in southern asia. after some more research, i discovered they're not actually native to china, but instead come from south america. how they ended up in china and taiwan, i don't know. they're also called hummingbird vines because apparently they attract hummingbirds. they belong in the morning glory family, which i immediately suspected after examining the seedlings - they bear the tell-tale "double wishbone" leaves of many ipomoea species (i know this because i used to grow morning glories thinking i could extract LSD from them, so i'm familiar with these plants).

for lunch i had some tea eggs that my mother made. i spent the next few hours wrapping up used poster boards and old laminated bakery signs with shiny mylar so i can use them to cover up the "fourth wall" (the side facing out) of the shelves, so the plants could be completely encapsulated in reflective material, thereby maximizing my light output. even with all sides mostly covered, the closet with the door closed still glow with a suspicious intensity. with both shop lights on and each one powering 2 40 watt fluorescent bulbs, that makes a grand total of 160 watts of illumination. i'm worried about air circulation because the closet had a faint mystery smell after the lights had been on for a few hours. fortunately the smell disappeared after a while. around 5pm (3 hours after i relocated the seedlings), i noticed the sole seedling in group A was starting to straight out so i removed the saran wrap so it wouldn't hit it. i also raised the lights by another inch, afraid that maybe in some explosive display of photosynthetic growth it might super sprout and smash into the fluorescent tubes.

around 7pm (2 hours later), i noticed the seedlings in group B and C (on the lower shelves) were starting to straighten out as well, so i removed the plastic covering on those two containers as well.

at 8pm i had a sudden epiphany and decided to move all the potted containers into the grow closet. i came to this conclusion after reading that light exposure for the most part doesn't affect germination, and the slight heat generated from the lights might even provide the plants with some warmth. i also figured the seedlings could start growing right away as soon as they broke through the dirt. 160 watts of light would be on regardless, so might as well take good advantage of it.

2 hours later at 10pm i decided i didn't want the non-germinated containers in the grow closet. the reason: despite the ample lighting and the kick-ass shiny-walled conditions, it just wasn't warm enough. the whole reason why i had the seeds germinating in the guest bedroom is because it's normally 8-10 degrees warmer in there than the rest of the house (provided i keep the door closed). although the closet was currently warm, once i turned off the lights at night, it'll be cold again, and that wouldn't be optimal for germination. so back into the guest bedroom went all the dirt cup, other than the cypress vines.

8 hours since i first moved the cypress vine seedlings, they were growing fast. although still yellow having so recently germinated, i expect to see some green soon once they develop their first true leaves. hopefully the other plants will start joining in on the growing fun.

other than my grow drama, the rest of the day was also spent watching the non-stop coverage of the nevada caucus and the south carolina primary. i was expecting an obama victory (although nowhere as confident as i was for new hampshire, a contest he'd end up losing), so i was shocked by late evening to hear news that hillary clinton had won. or did she? even though she had the most county convention delegates (whatever that means), obama still had more state delegates (13 versus 12). it's all very confusing but i think clinton still has the momentum going into their next contest. i don't understand how people can vote for hillary. am i the only one who sees her as a fraud? i felt the same way in 2004, when i wanted wesley clark to win the democratic nomination, but instead it went to john kerry. i ended up voting for kerry, but almost as a lesser of two evil choices (the alternative was 4 more years of bush). this time around however, should hillary get the nod, i don't think i can vote for her. i might consider throwing my vote to a republican, or perhaps even a 3rd part candidate (mayor bloomberg, you're my only hope!).

i've been doing some research on hydroponics. i haven't even really started my adventures in indoor closet gardening when i'm already onto my next project. i was up late last night studying the plans for several hydroponic systems. i was surprised, but hydroponics seems like a marriage between gardening and fishkeeping. a lot of the DIY hydroponic setups use aquarium equipment: things like an underwater pump, airstones, even pH buffering solutions. it'd be an easy transition for me to delve into the world of hydroponics, but i'll leave that for the future.