David23
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How do seeds react in late autumn ?

Hi I have always taken cuttings in my life till now and frowned upon seed sowing unless for bedding plants. Needless to say I need to learn that its fun and interesting. I like to find out peoples experiences and have thought about many things that I have never really got clear in my own mind. I bought a book or two also and have read this that and the other.

Spring would be best for most seeds to sow them.

I am trying to figure whether I can sow in winter. Bear with me on this one !-

I have been reading a link on germination on the internet which is very good with sowing tables treatments and advice and all sorts of things Its here if you are intrigued https://theseedsite.co.uk

It shows that it can also often be good to sow in winter perhaps under a shelf being best with sides and back closed off. This is not just for alpines but hardy perennials interestingly.

So the front of the shelf open and exposed to the elements with covers behind and at the sides. Can they still really come up in the winter or is this just a cold treatment so there sure to come up in spring earlier than normal ?

What I am trying to achieve is an earlier germination perhaps 2-3 weeks before they'd normally come up in spring by using the winter sowing and then wipping them into the cold greenhouse. Hopefully they would then be germinated and starting to grow in february/march.

Would some seeds which do not want a winter cold treatment outside(under shelves) rot away , is this a problem ?

One final question. I here a lot about propagators, warmth and germination.

Can this be an 'alternative' to cold treatment working on the seed coat for emergence or is it to bring warmth to the spring soil conditions for germination?

Does this mean most seeds do not want a cold treatment as only warmer soil works for them in the spring with day length. The latter may be the answer most people give ?

Thanks all , hope this is not all to daunting.
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rainbowgardener
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It depends on WHAT seeds. Each kind of seed has it's own special requirements for germination. Cold hardy perennial flowers, like coreopsis, coneflower, bee balm, black eyed susans, can generally be planted from seed outdoors in fall, but that just means they will come up a little earlier in spring, it doesn't mean they will grow in winter.
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digitS'
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Absolutely as RainbowGardener says: it depends on plant species.

That is true with the somewhat protected environment that is used in what is called wintersowing. I am a non-authority because I don't feel that I have sufficient winter sunlight to take much advantage of this method. But, I've listened to friends in Colorado who have the winter cold but much more sun. They have mixed results. Some years, things go well.

Here is more information on wintersowing. Look at the choices that may be available to use in this method. Then, I suggest, give some thought to your available sunlight during those months of the year.

[url=https://wintersown.org/wseo1/index.html]WinterSown.Org.[/url]

Steve
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David23
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That's a great winter sowing link. I have only read the titles and intro on the site. I will have a look in detail. Thanks very much. I have colour highlighted some questions below if you could give me your opinion it would be great. Thanks for your help !

I live in the UK. I can put them in an open south facing position to get as much UK light as possible. Is this what your a saying ? Is that to much light ?

I left a link above which shows the hardy perennials I am talking about in there sowing tables for winter. I was referring to using this table on the website to select the winter recommended ones. I might not have made that clear. Its worth a look its an amazing site.

I will have a look at the winter sowing techniques from your link and the list they recommended. I should get good results doing this. I also have the royal horticultural society seed book on compost conditions , sand , loam, peat etc etc. for each variety and type.

I need to decide which protective method to use. I am not sure whether I should leave the front open or use some sort of zipper grow house to bring the front down when its below -5 degrees that a rough guess, not sure ?

Thanks very much.
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digitS'
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David, does this page have the links to those perennials you are thinking of planting: [url=https://theseedsite.co.uk/germination.html](click)[/url]

You will notice the expected days to germination depending on the season. It is a long wait for some of those that sown in the autumn & winter.

Mostly, as I understand it, the gardeners at wintersowing.org use containers that are open at the top. One of those tiny greenhouses that is left open would probably amount to the same sort of thing. The soil, seed and seedling would be a little warmer than if just left in the open. Closing something like that might bake things on a real sunny day! So, that isn't done.

The UK doesn't have a lot of sun. The entire country is located farther north than ALL of the contiguous United States - for an American perspective. That means you have very short winter days. Then there are those famous cloudy UK skies. . .

I just haven't felt that I'd be getting more than a couple weeks jump on the growing season - at best. But, that is here where winter lingers . . . and lingers. And, where winter temperatures often drop all the way down to a -25°C. As well, I have a greenhouse I can "fire up" about the 1st of March. So, I haven't tried wintersowing.

Steve
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Do you think a full light position is good given our Uk day length and higher temperature in winter. We have an average 5 degrees C in winter. Some days may creep up a bit in temp. It can also be as bad as -7 if we are very unlucky. -10 the odd day but pretty rare.

Thanks for all the info and answering the questions. Very informative on the inside sheltering.

The link was not showing the actual tables just the home page. Here is a link to the germination tables as they call them I think-
https://theseedsite.co.uk/list10.html .

You will see the figures for UK winter outdoor sowing. I take it it is referring to the number that come up a couple of weeks prior to spring (approx)
Do you think I am interpreting it correctly ? I normally grow from cuttings so have poor knowledge

Thanks for the help. I better get reading that winter sowing site.

[/url]
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try doing research on individual plants of your interest, rather than looking for lists of what to plant when. once you know the plant and its characteristics you will know when and where is best no matter where you are. you will learn more, your plants will be happier and so will you when you see them thriving.
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digitS'
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David, I do think that a full sun location would be best for wintersowing.

If you click the "Back to Germination Main Page" on your linked table, you will see: "In the tables in this section, the number indicates the number of days from sowing to first germination." My emphasis.

So, on the table you linked, Delphinium ajacis seed sown outdoors during the winter required 55 days to germinate for the gardener. He/she does not tell us what day, December 21st to March 21st, that the seed was sown. I think that would be awfully important information.

You can see [url=https://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/propagation/seeds.html]here (Cooperative Extension, The University of Arizona),[/url] at a warm soil temperature of 55°F, larkspur can be expected to germinate in 5 to 10 days. So, cold winter soil is delaying germination quite a bit.

Steve
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Okay thanks

Thats very helpful. I thought it was the number that came up but its days takes then. Thanks for pointing that out I read it wrong. I had an interesting look at the autumn germination in a prop column (propagater raised) . It seems quite a few germinate better in winter in a propagator than autumn. What do you think about this ? sorry for al the questions but its very handy hearing all your points of view.

Nothing like talking to an experienced gardener. Thank you ! See this for propagator example for instance- https://theseedsite.co.uk/list7.html

Oops another quick-e- Can I ask if most easy grow perennial species ( as aposed to there harder to grow varieties) would be okay in plant cells you can get. I ordered a few on ebay at a 2.5cm plug depth. Had it have been 2 cm or less it may have been no good perhaps.

Much appreciated !
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David23
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Thanks I think I will go down the propagator root this winter. Give it a go. I would then no if its possible to germinate in winter with heat as the main factor. I was going to use a propagator (heated) , not boiling hot , with a second covering also over the seeds. I think its termed double protection. Should be interesting to see the results. Will let you know what happens. I know i should be doing spring really but I like the challenge and could find results for all seasons by doing this test. I appreciate your advice as it so handy to know what others do and also internationally too. It of course is plant dependant so I will use his table. Many germinate with in 1 month in winter with double protection and heat(what the website said). He used a container heated and another protective lid over it. this is the same as the propagator and and a lid pretty much. I found that particularly interesting since otherwise you have got 'no chance'. It is a lot of effort I suppose but interesting. It might be there a many different views on this one subject.

Thanks anyway!
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Hi joining the discussion late. I have yet to actually try the wintersowing techs using tubs, etc. though I've researched them.

What I HAVE done is a lazy gardener's method -- pot up seeds in fall that need cold stratification and set them out under trees out of heavy rains, etc that might wash them out. I've grown apple pips, peach pits and acorns, comfrey, echinacea, milkweed, etc. this way.

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digitS'
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Just getting back to this forum . . .

The gardener in your links says that the "propagator" he/she uses amounts to "seeds sown in pots of compost and kept inside in a covered plastic container with bottom heat." That might mean under lights but it doesn't seem to be clear on that.

I put seed in containers with starting mix on top my refrigerator. It is above 20ºC at all times up there even when overnight, the room temperature may be closer to 15 or 16ºC.

These are clear plastic containers and they have a lid. There is no grow light so I have to check for germination a couple times each day so that don't stretch, seeking light. They are moved to a south window where they will stay for a few days until being moved into a heated greenhouse.

Covered containers outdoors would also have to be watched carefully so that the heat of the sun doesn't cook the sprouting seed and seedlings.

Steve
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Covered containers outdoors would also have to be watched carefully so that the heat of the sun doesn't cook the sprouting seed and seedlings.
Yeah, that was my thought too and one of the reasons I haven't actually tried it yet.... :?

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That sounds good. I think this is denoted on his website by the IN= being Inside. I had a look at what prop= on the next page also. In detail he says this-

When I sow seeds in the Propagator, I put the pots in a seed tray that has a heated element in the bottom as well as a plastic cover. Sometimes, in the winter, if the Propagator is full, I stand the covered seed tray on top of the boiler, which also provides bottom heat.

So a greenhouse propagator with warming cables I take it and a further lid as protection over a seed tray. Are you saying this amounts to the same thing from your answers before ? may be with the definition above it changes things. Overall there is better germination with a propagator, or a least from his weekly figures and comparing it with a house inside. Very interesting what he managed in winter. About one third can be done in winter from the website tables in a propagator.

Another quickie to fill in the gaps in my mind- On a warmer day in full sun in winter , still 10 degrees outside , 15 degrees in greenhouse will I get burning and should I pop a white sheet over the top. This is a UK winter scenario. I'd say yes as I grow cuttings in the shade often for example. Have not done seeds really though.

Thanks.

What you are all saying is very helpful. I am just filling in the gaps so I can see how it all works together.

Much appreciated.
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digitS'
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I am not very clear as to what he means on the website but he may be available to answer your questions.

The covers for the containers I use indoors are just there to conserve soil moisture.

15°C is certainly not too warm for any seedling that I can think of - even if it is sitting in the direct sunlight.

Warmth and light should be somewhat balanced. In other words, if there is little light - too much warmth will just be a further encouragement for legginess. If there is little light, cool temperatures are best but, of course, growth in minimal.

Steve
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Now if we're talking sowing inside, I've started onions, salvias, geraniums, and begonias in January, tropical milkweed and cotton as well as hot peppers and tomatoes in February. Those two months are still considered winter.

Rainbowgardener regularly starts a wide selection of perennials and hardy annuals that take a little longer to grow to planting size in the same time frame.

I believe we both use indoor setups with bottom heat. My main setup is in the unheated garage that can get down to 28°F at night since our Jan, Feb are our coldest month when overnight lows can reach negative single digits °F. So I have to carefully select what can be started out there vs. my much smaller indoor set up.

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Okay I shall get a happy medium with light then. Propagator I think it should be then. Seems the quickest germination , possibly before winter too with some of them. It has a 2 week germination average for viable autumnn / winter types in the propagator. Says he....confidantly lol. If you want to tell me any more useful things please do ! The legginess one was very useful of course!

Many thanks indeed.
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Hi there again thanks for the advice before about Autumn sowing and Winter sowing. I am reporting back. I have used an electric blankit safely covered with polythene this can give 20 degrees next to a window inside. One Genus called Galega came up in aout 10 days. It looks like they have grown to quick as they are lying down horizontal. The seeds come as 120 per gram classed as a medium sized seed in my book. My guess is I planted them to shallow. I covered them with vermiculite as the book said. What are the normal reasons for this happening ?

Thanks very much.
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It looks like they have grown to quick as they are lying down horizontal
I'm thinking you still don't have enough light.

Eric
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I think the commonest reason for seedlings being flat on the soil is damping off. Its a fungal condition that seedlings are very vulnerable to in conditions of high humidity and low air circulation.
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I think the commonest reason for seedlings being flat on the soil is damping off. Its a fungal condition that seedlings are very vulnerable to in conditions of high humidity and low air circulation.

This thread:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=222417#222417

has some pictures of what damped off seedlings look like. The stems get spindly and may have a brownish nipped in area at the bottom, just above ground level. If it is the damping off, once they are lying flat, they are probably goners, nothing you can do about it except pitch them and start over.

For prevention, be very careful not to over water, putting a small personal fan on them a few hrs a day helps with air circulation, and putting a pinch of cinnamon and/or chamomile in the water you water with helps as an anti-fungal. Marlingardener just suggested a light misting with baking soda solution also as a preventative. The baking soda is anti-fungal, but I hesitate to mist seedlings due to the humidity issue.
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Hmm... intresting thanks. I cut up 1 inch plastic labels and put them 5mm away into the soil. I delicately put the seed head over the flat top. This does not cause bruising or snapping if you are careful.

I don't think its damping off as the stems look okay at the base. There is the odd one or two that have shriveld up. Most are good seemingly strongish stems though. A light issue makes sense with only the occasional stem a tad thinner.

If it is a light issue ?-

We have had some dull days and some sunny days. The sun is weak but maybe warmer than the US. Its a south facing window but the sun in reality takes a while to get round to this position in winter. I have two left and right house solid walls with only one window south facing to the sun. This sees maybe 3 hours of light/sun possibly less with the lower height of the sun in winter. An east facing situation would be better in winter perhaps as this would give maybe 5 hours in my outdoor greenhouse were there would be more ambient light if not sunny with no house walls.

I think they may have been a little shallow on planting but it probably has little to do with it as you said nothing about this.

One thing I should point out is the enviroment was damp and humid but i check them daily for signs of germintaion. I HOWEVER did not on this one tray though as I did not expect a 10 day germination in winter. If I'd seen two or three germinate after say 6 days I could have moved them to a better positon before the seedling started searching for light. As regards damping off I thought it was meant to be humid until first signs of germination. I notice that they can dry out quickly with an electric blanket under the polythene but think they were okay on the checking I did. They fell down horizontally towards the window and light. I suppose you could say they were searching for the light. Also the first leaves on some are opening now. I think this means there is no damping off as yet. The stems look fairly good too. The reason they may not have damped off already after 20 days may be is because the perlite covered surface stops soil contact. I cannot see them growing upwards now without me proping it over the 1 inch , half inch showing flat label technique. I will let you know if this works in a better lit position perhaps. Might be i get a slight brusing at the base with the movement upwards, will let you know after I do it very carefully. Will see what happens.

I DID MAKE A BAD MISTAKE HOWEVER. After 4 days the problem tray seedlings were still staight then it gradually flopped sideways in 2 more days. I think therefore it is still a light issue as vermiculite helps remove soil surface moisture too. They don't appear to be damping off shrivelling or dying at the base or above as prior mentioned.

I am bubble protecting my greenhouse but the movement from heat to cold greenhouse (with better light) could be a shock perhaps. Maybe a heater would be good if it dips below 5 degrees centigrade. I intend using the electric blanket still with a polythene covering(works well ) not dangerous.

Inside my house the seedlings have to wait till the sun comes round as unlike a greenhouse there are two house walls on either side and one south facing window. ie- you have to wait for the sun to move all the way round till the seedlings get there south facing benefit. All in all what I thought was a good south facing location is perhaps like a north facing window equivilent. Also you would get more ambient light in a greenhouse outside with 3 facing positions to potential winter sun.

Does this sound right ? Sorry about the detail I was thinking out loud. Is vermiculite good enought to stop damping off later ?

Thank you ! your advice would be great.
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Still not for sure about the damping off, but definitely not nearly enough light. It will be very difficult to grow seedlings without supplemental light. I am in a similar situation to you about houses next door etc, so I just don't bother with the windows. My seedlings are in the basement with no natural light, just fluorescent tube lights.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12209&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45

there's a picture of my seed starting operation.
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Hi I am very sorry I did not get back to you I meant to jsut before christmas but then had to leave. I am just back. Thank you for you advice. It looks like a great set up Rainbowgardener. Is there a lower budget solution. Perhaps

https://www.jungleseeds.co.uk/HardwareOrders/contents/en-uk/d34.html

I was looking at the GT Sun Blaster T5 Grow Lamp for a cheap idea(scroll down to see it)

Great advice thanks!
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What I have IS the low budget solution.. it is just regular fluorescent tubes in shop light fixtures, like you find at any hardware/ department store. The heat pads are regular pharmacy ones.

The only thing big budget about mine is that there is a lot of it (two 8 foot lengths of lights = 8 light fixtures each with two tubes), but I grew this set up a bit at a time, I didn't go out and buy all of this at once.

I think mine is lower budget solution than what you linked to. One tube won't be a lot of light; the shop light fixtures I use hold two tubes each. The problem with one is that it will give you a pretty narrow strip of light, once it is as close to the plants as it needs to be.


[url=https://www.lowes.com/pd_245546-58659-NXU-6001-B_4294896174_4294937087_?productId=3168049&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr|0||p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl_Fluorescent%2BLighting%2B_4294896174_4294937087_%3FNs%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=]shop light fixture[/url]
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I wondered though if the link as shown above with the GT Sun Blaster T5 Grow Lamp , a cheaper version , with the 7 rays of the sun. A proper daylight lamp I assume could give as good results as a DIY florescent tube. Ie- offer better results for the plants concerned. Do others have a point of view on this ? Thanks Rainbow I value your answers just as much. Note it is only $ 27 in your money- £20 in mine. It might be cheaper than a normal one from a hardware store even.

Great discussion very grateful.
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David23
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Hi yes I can see where I am going wrong with asking my question.

I had not noticed the lamp I showed on the website is only 2ft long.

What is the wattage of your ordinary lamp ?

To save me looking it all up what did you pay for each tube/lamp ?

Is it a T5 standard one bought form most stores ?

What is the difference between this and a proper day light lamp. Is it a big difference in terms of plant growth or only a small difference ?

Sorry for all the questions. Just four to answer. It just helps to weigh all these things up.

I am very grateful, thank you!
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I have the shoplight type setup. For the ballast and 2 bulbs, it cost me around $20. For the bulbs, we bought one "cool" and one "warm" and the setup has worked great.

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Here's the ad I linked to before -- it shows prices when you enter your zip code:

[url=https://www.lowes.com/pd_245546-58659-NXU-6001-B_4294896174_4294937087_?zipCode=45229&firstReferURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lowes.com%2Fpd_245546-58659-NXU-6001-B_4294896174_4294937087_%3FproductId%3D3168049%26Ns%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26pl%3D1%26currentURL%3D%252Fpl_Fluorescent%252BLighting%252B_4294896174_4294937087_%253FNs%253Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%257C0%257C%257Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%257C1%26facetInfo%3D&catalogId=10051&productId=3168049&pl=1&findStoreErrorURL=StoreLocatorDisplayView&selectedLocalStoreBeanArray=%5Bcom.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%409600960%2C+com.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%40a100a10%2C+com.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%40ac00ac0%2C+com.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%40b700b70%2C+com.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%40c200c20%5D&currentURL=%2Fpl_Fluorescent%2BLighting%2B_4294896174_4294937087_%3FNs%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&Ntt=&langId=-1&URL=TopCategoriesDisplayView&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&storeId=10151]Lowes ad[/url]

$17 for the fixture and $6 - $8 for two 32 watt four foot long T8 bulbs to go in it.
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Hi thanks very much. I found one in the UK at this price for 61 inches-

https://www.wickes.co.uk/red-plastic-wallplugs/invt/162286/

Will this be okay without the unit sides directing the light ( as your link shows)
I have a 5 ft x 3ft area. The length of the bar light does cover this length and hopefully is enough light to cover the 3 ft width.

What do you think ? Its for growing seeds in modules and then to bring the plugs to full rooting in them. Do I need a dark enviroment to get max. light. I can draw my curtains in a room I don't use. Is this the best way ? I have some cappilary matting that can go in trays underneath as I am hopeless with the damping off problem. You were right Rainbow it was damping off as I could see this in the end. Vermiculite is deceptive as you cannot see the stem base , 'ENOUGH' , and whether it getting to much water. Plus the vermiculite on the surface removes very little moisture and dries out fast. Underneath the soil can be moist though. So you cannot see if the cells are trully wet or dry with vermiculite above. I grew anthurinums VERY WELL with no vermiculite on top as I could see what was happening. Perhaps the compost should have vermiculite mixed in into the soli itself. This could helps better with damping off. Plus cheshunt compound ( banned ?) could be used if neccesary.

Thanks.
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rainbowgardener
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It would probably be enough light if the trays are running parallel to the light. (I use 10"x20" trays, so you would need the length of the tube running along the length of the trays). That means of course that you can cover fewer trays that way. But remember that your light needs to be just about 3-4" above the plants (on a chain so that you can raise it as the plants grow). At that height it would not illuminate all the plants if you run it across the trays instead of parallel. I run mine across, but with two fixtures, 4 light tubes.
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David23
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Thanks thats very helpful indeed!

Does cheshunt compound still exist and would perlite mixed into the rooting medium help and for me no vermiculite on top ?

I was wondering about how good the capillary matting is to grow them watering from underneath instead. It seems on the net alot of people recommend this ?

Does your celler make it as dark as possible so lamp is at its brightest ?

thanks its been so kind of you to pass on all your experience. This should finish up the questions now with the above.

Thanks again.
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rainbowgardener
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Never heard of cheshunt compound, maybe it's a UK thing?

I don't use capillary matting (wouldn't the roots get all tangled in it?), but I do water from below - the cells and/or pots sit in trays and the water is poured into the tray to be wicked up by the soil. Very simple easy and inexpensive.

My basement is not dark, but it has only a limited amount of natural light through a couple of frosted windows that are not near the seedlings. I don't think the dark is really important as long as the lights are right down close to the plants. A little bit of indirect light in the room doesn't subtract anything from the light going to the plants.

The potting mix I buy has vermiculite already in it. It helps with water circulation/drainage and keeping the mix light so it doesn't pack down. I wouldn't put vermiculite or perlite or anything else on top of the soil. What ever teeny little bit of light reflection you could get, doesn't make up for keeping more moisture in and not being able to check the soil to see how wet/dry it is etc.
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rainbowgardener
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PS. I looked up cheshunt and found that it is a copper sulphate based anti-fungal, but is banned from sale due to health/ environmental concerns.

It seems that it was sold to prevent damping off in seedlings (a fungal disease), but there are much safer, more organic ways to do that.

Type damping off into the Search the Forum Keyword Box and you will find lots written here about damping off and how to prevent it.
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