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restart my seeds now or give in and purchase seedlings?

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:56 pm
by rosiegirl
this is my first year gardening and i've become extremely frustrated. i totally want to give up...i think i just don't have a green thumb. :(

i started seedlings indoors this year in the beginning of april (probably too late, already). I'm in zone 6B. my 4 year olds and i planted 2 types of tomato seeds, summer squash and cucumbers.

i started the seeds in those little 4 square plastic things. covered it with plastic, sat it in the sun indoors. i *think* i did a good job watering (used a spray bottle) and didn't overwater. our seedlings sprouted really quickly and we were all very excited.

i left the cover on and the seedlings continued to grow. my big mistake was taking them outside into the sun with the cover ON. totally burned them and killed all of them. very sad.

I'm trying to learn from my mistakes and still have a garden for us and the kids. so my questions are this:

1. i re-bought all the seeds i used. do i try to start from seeds indoors now? do i start from seeds outdoors? should i start the cucumbers and squash from seed and buy tomato plants instead?

2. if i don't use my seeds this year, can i use them next year?

3. for future reference, do i take the cover off the seedlings when they start to sprout?

4. from the research i've done on this site, it looks like i should start my tomato seeds in february. do i transfer them out of those little pots at some point?

thanks all! I'm having a hard time finding comprehensive info on this.

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 11:40 pm
by jal_ut
You can plant the summer squash and cukes outside in the garden where they will grow. Plant now.

You may want to buy some tomatoe plants for this year.

You can also plant tomato seed outdoors where it will grow. You probably have enough time in your area. You wouldn't want to plant until danger of frost is past.

Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 12:57 pm
by malkore
Indeed once everything sprouts, get the dome off that mini-greenhouse or you can end up with both heat and humidity issues. That can lead to fungus and plant death.

Also don't use those jiffy peat pellets...horrible things that hold too much water in all the wrong places. Stick with Solo cups (poke a hole in the bottom) and either seed starter mix or container mix (later on you can mix your own soil).

Don't think you can't do this...remember, seedlings are babies...the hardest thing to care for be it plant, animal or human.

At this point you might want tomato seedlings from the nursery. Cukes can be directly sewn.

Your seeds will keep a year.

Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 1:37 pm
by TZ -OH6
Very few things need to be started inside: tomatoes and peppers are the most common. Large seeded things generally get seeded directly into the garden. Check to see what your last frost date is, or recomended planting date for your zip code, and start tomato and pepper seeds 6-8 weeks before that.

For most hassle free results
1) Do not cover seed pots at any point. The potting mix holds water long enough for germination and after that let the roots do what they are made to do.
2) Do not use peat pellets or peat pots. Several drawbacks, most have to do with overwatering-underwatering, and root growth. Plastic drink cups with holes in the bottom are one good option. The pots from purchased seedlings are also usefull. I start my seeds in the little 4 and 6-packs before potting up.
3) Do not rely on window light. It is hard to get enough light for good growth and you can easily overheat seeds and seedlings. Invest in two standard inexpensive 48" fluorescent shoplight fixtures (two tubes each = four tubes total) and buy 6500K tubes for them (these will be one of the available daylight-type tubes sold at Lowes/Home Depot). In the off season you can use these to grow flowering houseplants such as African violets, as well as lettuce, herbs etc. If you have a good window a single shoplight will help for supplemental light, but life is so much easier whan you have complete control of the situation. Plus, setting things up in a back corner might be more convenient.

There are several other tricks to tweek the situation, but the above things are the primary cause of questions about seedling failure around here.

Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 6:02 pm
by tedln

Having a green thumb or not having a green thumb is only a matter of having gardening knowledge or not having it. Everyone has or can have a green thumb. You only need to ask questions, or read.

All of the information given in previous posts is good. One comment I have is when "watering from below", simply place the young seedling containers in a shallow pan and add water to the pan. Let the containers soak up water from below and remove them from the pan. If they soak up all the water, you can leave them in the pan. Don't leave them sitting in water in the pan. Let the seedling containers dry considerably before adding more water. You don't want the soil at the top of the containers to stay wet.


Posted: Tue May 11, 2010 8:12 pm
by Ozark Lady
You can do it!

Gardening is not a green, brown or blue thumb. It is alot of trial and error along with your reading.

How many times did you land on your backside while learning to walk? Did ya quit? Well, you won't fall that many times in gardening I promise! Come on, get up, dust off and try it again.

You already said that you cooked them, see lesson learned already, and one you will never forget.

(Don't tell anyone, I have been gardening for many years, and I killed some tomatoes, by not hardening them off enough, burned them to a crisp.) Shhh!

Posted: Sat May 15, 2010 12:51 am
by rosiegirl
wow, you guys are fantastic! all of your answers were so helpful. tomorrow, i buy tomato seedlings and plant the cucumber and summer squash i have!

Posted: Sat May 15, 2010 4:34 am
by jal_ut
Gardening, like any kind of farming is always risky. There are a lot of things that can cause you grief. Weather, bad storms, insects and other critters, diseases, and the list goes on. We plant in good faith and hope.

I have had my share of failures and made plenty of mistakes. After a while though I found ways to avoid a lot of the pitfalls and correct problems. The benefits of a garden are many. Keep trying.

Remember the best fertilizer is the gardeners shadow.