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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:25 pm
Location: Moyock, NC

Starting from seeds/time between sprout and transplant.

Hello everyone. To let you know a little about my situation, I live in Zone 8, on the coast of NC/VA. We have an area that has been used as a garden in the past that I plan to use this year for our garden, it's about 200 sq ft. area, so I'm hoping to have a good veriety of plants. Ive recently started sowing seeds indoors and have quite a few sprouts. We started them off in a "jiffy" mini greenhouse. after they sprouted, I took the "peat pills" and put them in Peat pots, filled with top soil. They seem to have taken well to the pots and the area that I have them growing. But I'm concerned about the light source that I'm using, and the amount of time I have before I HAVE to plant them outside, or at least in a large container. I'm using floruescent light "daylight" type bulbs. The plants have grown quite a bit since I've put them in the peat pots. The pots are about 6 inches tall and about 3 in. in diameter. How long will the plants survive in the pots before they have to be planted/die off. And is the "daylight" floru. good for them, or should I use soft white? I'll attach some pics to show how they look so far.

Thanks in advance.

[img][/img] [img][/img]

Super Green Thumb
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Well, I don't have much experience in the contaier-size area, but I think that your size containers should be good if you did not start your plants overly early.

However, I've heard that fast growers, like melons should not be in their containers for more than 3 to 4 weeks since they can become "root bound." However, some plants like tomatoes and peppers are usually started indoors 6 to 8 weeks before they are expected to be planted; for these, your containers should be fine.

Now, I can't be one to criticize container size since I will probably keep my starts in 1.5in. x 1.5in. x 3in. deep planting cells this year and have no idea how good (or bad :shock:) they will do.

As far as when to put them in the ground goes. It depends on the plant. Some plants like cucumbers should be planted after ALL danger of frost has passed as they are very sensitive to it. Tomatoes and peppers, on the other hand, can take a light frost sometimes, especially if they are covered. However, the soil must be warm when you plant your peppers or their growth may be hampered throughout the season.

As far as the lights go, if they are the long fluorescent type with a rating of about 6000k or 6500k you should be good. Remember to keep them no further that 4in. to 5in. from the plants.

Welcome to the Helpful Gardener Gardening Forum :).

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Super Green Thumb
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Your lighting should be fine. But as G5 noted, the light needs to be just a few inches above the plants, I'd say more like 2-3" than even 4-5. Some of your seedlings are already looking kind of leggy (tall and spindly). That happens if they aren't getting enough light.

And those peat pots are plant killers. You will need to be very careful about watering. If you let the soil dry out at all, the peat sucks moisture right out and the seedlings get too dry, but if you keep it too wet the peat holds moisture and they get damped off (fungal condition). To help against that, be sure you have plenty of air circulation (a little fan would be good). For next year or if you transplant those, think about plastic instead.

You didn't say what you are growing, it makes a big difference. Looking at the pictures, it looks like mainly beans and tomatoes? Maybe some peppers? (Seed leaves of tomatoes and peppers look a lot alike.) And something else I'm not sure of from the seed leaves.

If those are beans, you did start them very early. I usually don't start beans indoors at all, because they are such fast growers. The 3" (diameter) pots are big enough to last your plants until they are pretty good sized, but having space to put big plants where they still get plenty of light gets tricky (for me anyway). And the beans are vines, they need support/ trellising, which is also tricky while they are still under lights.

Since my average last frost date is around mid-April, I usually start peppers around 1 Feb and tomatoes around Valentine's Day, in order to have good sized, but still manageable starts to transplant in April. Starting earlier hasn't worked for me, as the plants start getting leggy (big plants need more light and nutrients than little ones) and I run out of room for them.

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Joined: Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:25 pm
Location: Moyock, NC

Thanks so much for your input. And after reading a bit more, I think that I did start too early. And my lights are too far away. We are moving soon so I'm going to kill off what I have, well, have left... and start again after the move, and after I set up lights properly. My cat helped me decide to do the restart, kind of forced my hand actually, since 40% of my plants now are chewed down to the soil :( Do you think that replanting in the same pots would be a problem come late feb.? I'm reluctant to goto plastic since I've already spent the money on the peat pots. and If I need to I can try to refresh the soil buy mixing it all back together and re-potting. Just something to think about I guess.

Thanks again,

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Greener Thumb
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Location: Virginia

Hi Ben and welcome to the forums!

Not much add to what G5 and Rainbow already said, but wanted to echo again on those peat pot/pods - I would never recommend them to anyone for the reasons already mentioned. These, while says "100% biodegradable", takes forever! And the roots get to be bounded inside those 5 walls, only hindering the development of your young seedlings.

Peat pellets (I'm guessing those are Jiffy #7 or something along those lines) - personally, I like them, and used them with great success as a seed starting media.

Good luck with 2010 gardening at your new location, keep us updated on your progress!


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bmad12, one way to recycle your pots without feeling like you lost out is to put them in the new compost pile you're going to start :wink: at your new home. Re-using those pots can lead to fungus problems etc. I suppose you could try using [url=]AACT[/url] to rehydrate them before planting, but I honestly haven't used peat pellets or peat pots for a long time for the reasons already stated.

Cat Damage: I'm glad you brought that up. In my house, knowing which plants the cats favor and which they don't dictates where they go. Toxicity is another obvious reason to keep them (cats AND plants) safe. Recently, I found out to my annoyance that one of my cats love cilantro! :x I keep a couple of 4" pots seeded with wheat and oat for their snack.

Greener Thumb
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Tiny tip: those peat pellets work better upside down. Just poke a hole for the seed. ;)

wanna try something cheaper next year? It's called a widger. I love my widger. It's not a spoon, it's not a knife... It's a widger. You can use it to transplant tiny seedlings, so you can start a whole bunch on one heat mat.

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