Linny
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Need help with the little "Jiffy" pots for kids.

I'm trying to get my grandaughter interesting in gardening. We went to WalMart today and she went crazy for the little Jiffy pots for kids. They're made by Ferry-Morse. I'm sure you've seen them. The little paper cup with the peat pot inside...Anyway, it comes with three seeds, a peat pellet, and the peat pot inside the cup. The only directions on the cup are to add water. How much water? Do the seeds go on the bottom or top of the peat pellet? She is tugging on my arm as I type wanting to know why we can't just add water like it says. Oh, if life were that simple! Anyone have advice here?

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Gnome
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Linny,

Hello and welcome. I'm not a fan of these things but since you already have them you might as well go for it. I'm not 100% sure what you have. I have seen peat pots and the compressed discs but never both together.
[img]https://www.parkseed.com/product_images/6626.jpg[/img]

The pellets (discs?) will swell and become much taller once wetted.
[img]https://www.autopot.com.au/content/images/Jiffy%20Pellets05.JPG[/img]
In the past when I did use them I allowed them to absorb as much water as they wanted then later planted the seeds in a shallow depression and covered them with a little of the material. If you simply added water I don't think you would go too far wrong.

Norm

Linny
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Location: North Florida

Thank you for the welcome.

Okay, we are adding water as I speak. I'm guessing just let it swell all it will and then drain any excess water off? My grandaughter, Morgan, is so excited, and I want her to be, but I sure hope this produces a plant. She selected Sunflowers. We do live in Florida so maybe they have a chance outside.

Thank you so much for your help. Maybe I will be able to send you pictures of my Morgan standing beside a huge Sunflower this summer!

Thanks again.

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Grey
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Hi Linny - Sunflowers do very well in Florida (I used to live in Dade City, just north of Tampa). I have some pictures of myself with some of mine that got to be 9 foot tall. Don't let them be hit by frost and... in my experience, they do not love to be transported outside/moved. So when you do move it, be very, very careful (and do it at sunset so it has the nighttime to get used to the idea of being outside before it has to deal with Florida's temps). You may also want to create a little tent around it for a couple of days to shield it a little.

And, if you have extra seeds - try planting them directly in about two weeks. They grow super readily right into Florida's sandy soil with very little amendment.

Enjoy!

opabinia51
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Wow, we are still frozen up here! Talk of snow for today or tomorrow. Anyway, one thing to keep in mind witha jiffy pellet or the like, is that they are made from peat and peat contains little or no nutrients so, use a liquied organic fertilzer on your plants until you move them outside.

And ammend your planting area with some manure before planting your seedlings.

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Grey
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Yes, it's cold here too, though not as cold as where you are, Opa ;)

There are two nice gardening seasons in central Florida. One starts in mid-February until July fries everything, and the other in September and continues until frost.

Linny
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Thanks for all the good tips everyone. I sure appreciate them, and since they are Sunflowers, I have hope!

Norm, do you have a perferred method for starting seeds indoors?

opabinia51
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And I'm sure that there are other experts out there! Feel free to add your comments at any time!

Linny
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opabinia51 wrote:And I'm sure that there are other experts out there! Feel free to add your comments at any time!
Yes please! Expert advice is what I need.

opabinia51, thank you for the tips on fertilizing. We have cows and horses, so manure is one thing we do not lack! Thanks again.

Grey, I do have extra seeds, so what the heck. A couple more weeks and they are going in the ground. Thanks for your advice.

P.S.: I used to live just south of Tampa in Plant City!

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Gnome
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Linny,
Norm, do you have a perferred method for starting seeds indoors?
Generally I don't start much inside, there are exceptions though. For instance I am now growing some Pomegranates from seed. The fruit was purchased last fall and the seeds should not dry so I was forced by circumstance to start over the winter.
[url=https://img246.imageshack.us/my.php?image=pomoo6.jpg][img]https://img246.imageshack.us/img246/787/pomoo6.th.jpg[/img][/url]
I usually start in flats and pot the seedlings up after they are off to a good start. These are about ready to be moved to individual pots.

Some things I would never start indoors as there is nothing to be gained. The Sunflowers, for instance, are such strong growers that you may find the direct sown ones will surpass the potted ones before the season is over. I understand that you have other considerations though, one of those exceptions. Another exception for me would be Pepper plants, if I want to grow my own I must start inside as my season simply is not long enough otherwise.

Of late I have been concentrating on tree seeds for bonsai and I really feel that they get off to a better start outside. Any short term gain would end up meaning very little a few years down the road. Besides it's a lot easier outside, nature can do a much better job than I.

You may find that your seedlings become a bit leggy or elongated unless you are able to provide adequate lighting. I use 4 ft Fluorescent tubes, not ideal but the best I can manage.

As far as the peat pots go, as Opa noted these things are devoid of any nutrients. What I also find troublesome is that they have a tendency to stay wet and if you do allow them to dry they are difficult to re-wet. I like to set up a wet/dry cycle for most anything in a pot and these products make that difficult.

Norm

opabinia51
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You are most welcome, yes use that manure! Just don't go overboard with it in your gardens.

Meaning if you add manure (a green) add some sort of brown to compensate for the green. Leaves, black and white newspaper articles, rotting wood, dried out grass clippings and other things with a lhigh C:N ratio are all good browns. I like leaves because they have a higher micronutrient content that the other things I listed. And leaves have a C:N ration of about 300:1 whereas newspaper has a C:N ratio of about 3000:1 so, it will take longer to break down.

Linny
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Gnome,

From your post, I see why you are not real fond of these things. Your explanation of why told me a lot about things I need to know. I read the directions, saw the plant with huge flowers on the label and bought it! They do not mention any of the downside aspects do they?! I do get your point about some things being okay to start indoors.

For the most part, with our long growing season here, I guess I don't need to use them. I liked your statement about nature being able to do a better job.

You're growing pomegranates? My husband loves them and I've heard they are really good for you. Can I grow them here? Also, I would very much like to see any progress you make with the bonsai. They have always seemed like a very mysterious, wonderful little plant to me.

I am taking in all you have advised me of and I really do appreciate your time and help.

Linda

Linny
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opabinia51,

Thanks for the information. I would have just plopped it around the plant, never knowing I should break it down. We have oaks all over the place here, and have just always raked and burned the leaves. Also, we have much rotted wood laying around that we have just been burning. What do you think about making a compost pile of manure, leaves, black & white newspaper and rotted wood? Would that be an okay combination or not? Too much of a good thing?

I appreciate your knowledge, which appears to be much in this department. Thanks for taking the time to help me.

Linny

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Gnome
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Linda,
I am taking in all you have advised me of and I really do appreciate your time and help.
You're welcome, I'm glad to help.

You'll be alright with the peat pots, its not that they're unmanageable but I have found them to be unnecessary. I have plenty of used plastic pots that I have saved and scavenged so that has some bearing on my decision not to use them. Due to my interest in bonsai I usually have leftover potting materials, so again I have no real reason to buy them.
You're growing pomegranates? My husband loves them and I've heard they are really good for you. Can I grow them here?
Pomegranates should actually do better in your area than mine. I just thought I would give it a try. I have one from fall 2006 that spent the summer of 2007 outside but my area is too cold to leave it out with my temperate trees. I don't expect fruit from mine but if you do I suggest you do a little research before making a purchase. Some trees (from seed) can be variable in regard to the quality of fruit they produce. Most fruit trees are propagated asexually via grafting, this assures that you don't end up with a tree that has inferior fruit. I'm not sure how Pomegranates stack up in this regard.
Also, I would very much like to see any progress you make with the bonsai.
If you mean the Pomegranates it will be quite some time before they look like anything. There are two of my trees in the [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=25]Bonsai Gallery.[/url] They are both still "under construction" though. If you wish to see some quality trees look [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3343]here[/url] and [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6892]here.[/url]

Make sure to post some pictures of the sunflowers next summer.

Norm

Linny
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I really appreciate the links to the Bonsai. Some of them are absolutely beautiful. I could get hooked on these. I must read up on them to see if I have the patience and more importantly, the intelligence to try this. It seems to be something that requires a fair amount of thought and good judgement. I love your little elm. I hopefullly will have some Sunflowers to send pictures of!

Thanks Norm and I will also do some research on the Pomegranates.

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Linny,
Some of them are absolutely beautiful. I could get hooked on these. I must read up on them to see if I have the patience and more importantly, the intelligence to try this.
If you are good with potted plants and have patience you can do it. There is a lot of time spent doing nothing except basic care, watering, fertilizing regularly and keeping an eye out for trouble. Most growers end up with more than a few trees so that they can spread their enthusiasm.

In your area you can grow species that I cannot at least not easily. I have some Ficus and a Live Oak that cannot tolerate the winters here. I tried an Olive once, not the true Olive but Budicia, but had no luck with it.

Be advised that most of those fine old trees that you see are collected, you are not likely to create something like that from small material. Keep an eye out for old landscape material that is being removed, these can make good bonsai. If/when you are ready, post in the bonsai forum.

Norm

Linny
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Potted plants (at least the indoor kind) are about the only thing I am good with, so this is good news for me! I'm excited about this. Thanks again, and hope to see you in the Bonsai thread.

Linny
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I planted the original "jiffy pot" sunflowers in the ground about a month ago. Had to cover them up three times to save them from frost! I knew I should have waited, but when we get this warm weather day after day, I cannot help myself. When I put them in the ground, I also, as suggested, planted the remaining seed I had in between them. Must have been twenty or so. The original plants are about five inches high and I think every one of the seed have come up and look great. Also as suggested, I blended some manure with leaves and have watered pretty frequently for now. My grandaughter is so excited! Hope to have pictures later this summer. Thanks again for everyone's help.

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