erins327
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Seedlings started! with picture!

OK! So I planted my tomato and jalapeno seeds today.

-- I have two heating mats under them, just regular ones set on low.

--I have good quality organic potting soil.

--I have two florescent lights, however I don't think they will be enough power? and I cant get them close enough to the plants? But at least they are in a corner of room where they will get about 8 hours of sunlight.

--I have a 100 mL syringe that I water each pod with. (I keep refilling the syringe of course, it takes about a 600mLs of water to cover the whole tray.


So, does anyone have any other suggestions? How do you guys adequately water your trays? And how much is not too little and not too much?

Here we go!

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rainbowgardener
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The light is critical. Window light is typically not enough. When you say you have two fluorescent lights, you mean tubes? bulbs? How close are they?

Light diffuses by the distance squared. So if you move your light from two inches away to six inches away, you have one-ninth as much light. If you are talking about lights on a ceiling, it's pretty worthless.

Are the pods in trays? Bottom watering is most effective and least likely to cause problems. Just put a little water in the bottom of the tray, just enough to just touch the bottom of the pots/ pods, so that the soil can wick up the water it needs.

Then you can tell how much is enough. By the end of the day it should have soaked up all the water in the tray.

Your title said with picture. Instructions for posting pictures here are in New to Helpful Gardener under Helpful Tips and Suggestions for New Members.
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ImageImage

Here is my setup I have a 72 cell seed starting tray. I purchased it for five dollars. It's well worth it they can be reused. For a light I used what I had on hand which was a full spectrum fluorescent floor lamp I turn it on when I wake up and turn it off when I go to sleep so it's getting about 16 hours on, 8 hours off. I positioned it about 5 inches above the top of the tray. You can see a a spray bottle in front of the tray that is filled with calamine tea to prevent damping off. As soon as they all sprout I will take the top off and get some air circulation. Once they are large enough I will move them to the greenhouse outside and then start more. In the meantime I'm going to order a better light but it seems to work pretty good for now these are the pictures above the seeds were planted seven days ago and some have already sprouted.


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rainbowgardener
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Looks pretty good! :) More light will be better, but that may be enough for now. Since the seeds are already sprouted, be sure you take the humidity dome off. It is off in the picture of the seedlings, but I wasn't sure if that was just for the picture.

Incidentally, very cool how you did the split picture!
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erins327
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Rainbowgardener...hahah well you cant see the picture because I completely forgot to attach it! :roll: But mine looks like Phonetool's above, except I don't have sprouts yet!

But hello?! Great advice! I didnt know you could water from the bottom tray. That seems alot more convenient, and to move the lights UP to the light, not trying to get the lights DOWN to the plant.

My lights are two flourescent lamps as you can see to the left of the picture. Do you really think that will be enough? Im starting to get skeptical. Are there seedling light fixtures out there that are cheap? I think thats what Im concerned with. I saw a set up at our nursery, but it was like $75. augh.






https://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... 4f3bda.jpg

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rainbowgardener
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I have four foot long shop light fixtures for two tubes and you can get them for about $25 (and then you still have to buy the fluorescent tubes).
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Get some white perlite and sprinkle and cover the suface below the plants which will reflect the light and help with damping off!
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I do the same

I do the same as above. My lights are on chains as the plants get taller up they go on the chains. Just plain 'ole florescent lights nothing special. I keep lights about 1 inch from plants, since florescent's are cool no chance of getting to hot.

erins327
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Week Two!

Here is an update of week two of growing tomato and pepper seedlings.

I need to thin them right about now, just got to the 2" height mark.

I read pepper's roots get stunted if they don't have enough room?

Any advice on when I should transplant to bigger pot, if at all?
We probably wont be able to plant outside until mid-March here at the earliest.

Thanks!

https://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... 7e967d.jpg

erins327
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Any way to save the sprouters?

Hey guys!

3 weeks down now with my seedlings, and it looks like the Tomatillos are starting to get weedy. I realize this could be from not warm enough temps under the heating mat, or they want more light than their fellow cherry tomato friends?

Is there a way to save them from being so tall and falling over? Can I bury the stem more so they will eventually root out from there?

It would be nice to save them!

Image

Thanks,
Erin

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applestar
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This is a good start. They are needing more light -- but you can compensate by planting them deep up to their seed leaves when you Uppot after first true leaves grow out a little bit more.

When they are tall like this, plastic drinking cups make good Uppot containers -- make sure to punch about 6 drainage holes in the bottom. Sprinkle a thin layer of soil mix then carefully guide the rootball to the bottom, then fill in one side of the stem, then the other.

You may want to fashion a reflector -- here's mine using a heavy weight disposable aluminum lasagna pan:
Image
I used to have an aluminum pie pan here for a single bulb.

I extended this one's reflector with a chip bag when I added the 2nd bulb with the Y adaptor:
Image

Also, turn the trays and if you can, shuffle the cells around every so often so everybody gets even light -- not so much leaning. Another idea is to set up a foil/Mylar covered reflector on the side away from the windows. I always use the heavy aluminum foil lid that comes with the lasagna pans, but another favorite source is inside of chip bags. I line walls, shelf and table surfaces, cardboard, etc. with them.

Taking the tomatillos off the heating mat might be a good idea too. They will grow more slowly and be stockier if it's colder. About 50-55°F ambient temp is good for tomato seedlings too. Oscillating fan helps to strengthen the stems as well.

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rainbowgardener
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What applestar said!

Yes, they are save-able.

Need more light... have your fluorescents about as close as you can get them to the plants and on 16 hrs a day.

Yes, you can bury them deeper. A good time to do that is when you transplant them. Once they have true leaves, you will want to get them out of the little cells and in to something like the cups applestar mentioned or 3 inch pots.
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erins327
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Thanks guys!

I like the idea of a reflector on them to really intensify the light. Going to try that stat!

So this week where Im at we are having highs in the mid to upper 70's. I have a black wheelbarrow that I set them up in during the highs of the day to get them more sunlight and wind.

I didnt know that the tomatillos acutally wanted LESS heat, I thought they would want more. Good tip I can take them off the heating pad.

Thanks for the reply backs. When should I start transplanting these to bigger pots? The roots are already down to the bottom of the pods and each seedlings has about 3-4 true leaves on it.

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applestar
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The first pair of plain looking leaves are seed leaves. I like to Uppot them when the second pair which are the FIRST pair of TRUE leaves have grown out and I can see the 2nd pair starting to grow.

Be sure to gradually acclimate them to direct sunlight and windy outdoors. The tender indoor grown leaves will sunburn and dehydrate from moisture robbing winds.

erins327
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So applestar,

We have had alot of mid 70 days here in Austin. (And I am only telling you this so you can 'double check' me with this being ok?)
So what I have been doing is in the mid-late afternoon, putting them outside in full sun for a while so they can 'learn to be outside' and get some good sunlight vs the weaker fluorescent lights.

My growing area what they started out in too is kind of half-way greenhouse- half way inside kinda environment. They are in the corner of the washroom with two big windows. Most of these days too we have the house open to get the afternoon breezes. So Im hoping this counts as hardening off as well.

They seem to be doing fine. I think I was watering them a little too much actually bc some of the pods got a hint of green in the soil. I skipped a day of watering so they could dry sufficiently before watering again. Plus now I've noticed the roots go all the way to the bottom, so I don't have to put as much water in there for the roots to reach it?

erins327
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Yay thanks Marlin!

What are signs of showing signs of stress? There was *one* seedling that the leaves kind of yellowed after being outside. I assume that one got burned from the sunlight? But the others look fine.

It will be interesting if I have to move them already. I was hoping I would have to re-pot them for another few weeks. Space is so limited Im not sure where Im going to put 50 4" pots! But I guess this is a good problem to have so far!

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water this from the bottom the seeds and plants will be better!!!!

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Please pardon me for barging in but, Marlingarder, I've read posts where you mentioned your plant shelves but I was thinking you meant the special metal plant shelves with lights for each shelf. Would you please explain more about your set-up. I would be very interested as I'm limited on indoor space. I will be starting my seeds in about 2 or 3 weeks. Thanks!
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erins327
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Updated pic

Hi guys!

Loving my little tomatoes and pepper growth. Watching them everyday like little children growing up. :)

Here in Central Texas I am able to put them outside in the late mornings until the evening, so they are getting the real sunlight, wind, etc. and seem to be loving it!

Ive put the pepper seedlings in a black wheelbarrow, hoping that will raise the temps slighty since ideally they like a little warmer (its a high of 65 today)

Im cutting out old milk jugs and 2L coke bottles that I can surround the seedlings when we put them in the ground next month. To give them a little insulation?

What do you think? Any advice for the future?

https://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... 75106a.jpg

https://i1303.photobucket.com/albums/ag1 ... 8114a8.jpg

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rainbowgardener
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You've done well getting a whole bunch of nice seedlings going.

Some of them are looking kind of small and not thriving for being 6 weeks along. And the soil in the picture looks dry. I don't know if that was just that moment. But sometimes peat heavy soil can be hard to get wet, tends to repel water. Bottom watering helps as well as being sure it is thoroughly wetted before you plant. Tell us a little more about how you are watering and fertilizing.
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erins327
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Yes, I did think too that the pepper seedlings were not growing as abundant as the tomato ones, but I thought maybe that was temp related? Since they like it a little warmer ideally than maybe it has been?

I do watering from the bottom, every other day. I did it yesterday so I will water them again tomorrow. The first cm or so is dry, but moist soil underneath to the bottom. I used clear cocktail cups to put some of them in, which is nice because I can see the moisture, and the roots at the bottom.

I have not fertilized yet, just more organic potting soil was placed into the containers when they were moved to bigger ones. When should I start fertilizing them more? Ive heard fertilizing young seedlings can be tricky, more like you can do more harm than good.
I have some compost ready too, I can top off the containers with that??

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If your potting soil does not have fertilizer in it, I would start fertilizing as soon as they have true leaves. If you are using synthetic fertilizer, you need to use it like a quarter strength at first (weekly weakly, they say), then half strength later. If you are using organic nutrients like compost, compost tea, fish emulsion, etc, it is not as sensitive. This year, so far I've been just adding the leachate from my worm bin (and my potting soil does have nutrients in it).
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erins327
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Wow thanks Rainbowgardener.

Once again, I would have not been successful without this blog because I would not have caught that!
I knew that seedlings were sensitive to fertilizer, and somehow I assumed to stay away from it, seeing that I thought the potting soil was enough. It looks like my potting soil was NOT enough, and hardly had anything in it.

I diluted it and started my fertilizing yesterday.

Will they just get a slow start? Or am I effecting the seedling in any way to where they will be hindered in producing vegetables later on?
When march 15th comes (that is our zone's frost free date) how will I know they are ready to put in the ground?

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rainbowgardener
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If you have nice sturdy little plants with three sets of true leaves they are big enough. But you do know they have to be hardened off, right?

Plants grown indoors are very tender, not used to sunlight (way more intense than the lights they've been under), cold, breezes, etc. So you have to get them used to all that gradually a little at a time. Start by putting them out in a protected spot, with no direct sun, for a few hours. Each day you can gradually increase the exposure. Pick your weather for when you first bring them out - windy is at least as damaging as too much sun.

Earlier you said: "There was *one* seedling that the leaves kind of yellowed after being outside. I assume that one got burned from the sunlight?"

Not so. Yellowing is more likely to be over-watering or the soil staying too wet. Sunburned leaves turn white, with thinned, almost crispy spots.

No not "effecting the seedling in any way to where they will be hindered in producing vegetables later on? " Just slowed it down a little getting started.
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Re: Any way to save the sprouters?

erins327 wrote:Hey guys!

3 weeks down now with my seedlings, and it looks like the Tomatillos are starting to get weedy. I realize this could be from not warm enough temps under the heating mat, or they want more light than their fellow cherry tomato friends?

Is there a way to save them from being so tall and falling over? Can I bury the stem more so they will eventually root out from there?

It would be nice to save them!

Image

Thanks,
Erin
Tall thin plants mean sun light shortage. They are growing tall in search of light. Once your plants come up through the soil they need to go outside in real sunlight every day. Cold weather will not hurt the plants as long as it is not freezing. I put my plants outside in 34 deg F weather if it gets any colder than that they need to be in a mini green house that will warm up from the sun and hold heat. You can put plants on the dash of your car during the day then bring them in the house when the sun starts to go down.

erins327
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Thanks Rainbowgardener,

At this point, they have been hardened off. I started it about 10ish days ago, and they go outside during the middle of the day when it is warmest (at avg 65 degrees this week) now.

And yes, the tomatillos turned a little yellow. Geesh had no idea it could be from overwatering? They might have to be on a different schedule that everyone else. As of right now the Orange cherry and the Sea Man tomatoes look happy, and getting thick and tall. The others (tomatillos, peppers) are growing, but just not at the same rate. Warmth? Too much water? Who knows, I guess its all about trail and error.

My water schedule is water at the bottom of the tray, every other day. What doesnt get soaked up, I take out so there is no standing water. Fertilizer once a week.

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