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rainbowgardener
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Tomatoes planted!! Yesterday I planted my 7 varieties of tomatoes, plus lobelia and aegeratum. The tomatoes are VERY crowded in the little cells and will need to be moved off the heat mat soon after they sprout, at which point they will fill up a lot of space under my lights...

It's all your fault, you know, THG friends :) you keep feeding my addiction!
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My Stump of te World tomato out of the very late-late group are the first ones up. :()
On the right are Carpet of Snow white and Royal Carpet purple alyssums in the back and Snow Crown hybrid Cauliflower in the front. The OP Early Snowball in the same pan haven't sprouted yet -- old (2009) seeds 100% failure :?:

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Let's all be a little bit nutz:
(I'm keeping track of when you are sowing your seeds, rainbow. Can't argue with success! :wink: )

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That's a complement, applestar, but I'm not sure how scientific my starting dates are. It depends somewhat on such non-plant related variables as when I have space on the heat mats to put them or (like the anise hyssop that got planted late) when I happen to find the seeds ... :)

I did deliberately slow the tomatoes down a little. I used to plant them on Valentine's day and although that had a nice little bit of symbolism, I decided it was a little too early. Also the Quaker Meeting where sell off a lot of my extras, has started the last few years having a big plant sale the first Sunday in May. So I slowed some things down to have them not ready too early before that.
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Good point RBG on starting early. We have all done it heck I have been wathcing you and Apple for years, APple and i were discussing astarting early a few years ago and how everything was too big in house and very ready to go out.

I am starting dwarf tomatoes now. Soon all esle will follow. Just got onions in the other day, as soon as it is warm and dry enough they will go in. That is the only thing I bought this year seed wise.

Do you need anything RBG? I have a ton of stuff you may want, veggies and all that, ask Apple. :P I was given a HUGE box of seeds to distribute.

Good luck RBG

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Making progress! Started potting up celery and the first peppers (the bells seem to be a bit ahead of the chili peppers, though they were planted at the same time). Planted nicotiana.

Next weekend I will plant roselle and malabar spinach, neither of which I have grown before, so I'm not too certain of the timing. Then everything I start indoors will be planted except all the squashes. (I seem to have acquired more varieties of squash than I usually do also, but that's to try to find something the vine borers won't kill.) Squash doesn't get planted for at least a month, so I am good, except I have no idea where all this stuff will go once it is all sprouted and needing more space! :)

Generous offer, gixx, but I have very limited garden space and already don't know where I am going to put everything.
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Ask him for "a little packet of carrot seeds" and see what happens. :kidding:

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applestar wrote:Ask him for "a little packet of carrot seeds" and see what happens. :kidding:
LMFAO Just ty me! nutz:

Man you already have peppers up. I need to get out and get another heat mat today. My old one died and almost took my house with it. Gonaa be crazy here soon.

Good luck RBG though knowing you, your garden will be spectacular as usual. 8)

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Currently have 11 trays of seeds and seedlings under the lights and 3 more going in and out getting hardened off. Soon to be more... :)
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Just wanted to link this in here, it's my last year's seed starting thread, which I finally managed to find just by paging through the Seed Starting index pages.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/v ... 798#238798

So what I wrote here from last year says

1/29/12 planted parsley, dill, fennel, coleus, canterbury bells, spearmint, broccoli, rosemary, thyme

2/1 petunia, celery, snapdragon

2/5 peppers, impatiens, red basil, salvia, parsley

2/11 marigold

2/17 tomatoes, nicotiana, summer savory, cardinal climber

2/19 OUTDOORS planted onions, scallions, radish, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard (very early warm up last year, nothing planted outdoors yet this year)

2/24 alyssum, sage

3/4 nasturtium, millet, hyacinth bean vine

3/22 squash

3/24 more squash varieties, moonflower, statice
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For comparison this year:

1/19/13 planted broccoli, cabbage, summer savory, canterbury bells, parsley, dill, alyssum, celery, bunny tails grass

1/27 petunias and marigolds

2/1 anise hyssop, red and purple basil, bell and chili peppers

2/11 impatiens and coleus

2/15 chamomile and green basil

2/22 tomatoes, lobelia, ageratum

2/24 nicotiana

(planned) 3/2 roselle and malabar spinach

end of march, beginning of April various squashes, cardinal climber, hyacinth bean vine, moonflower.

Turn the lights off by the first of May! :)
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Most everything seems to be doing fine in my homemade potting soil. Probably not quite as big and lush and leafy as they would have been in the Miracle Grow, but quite acceptable.

But now that the peppers are maturing their first true leaves, some of them (interestingly, the chili peppers, but not the bells) are looking kind of chlorotic. Anybody know of some nutrients that chili peppers need more of than bell peppers that might be causing this? Any suggestions for organic additives to my potting mix to help correct it? I started dissolving a few of the guinea pig (mostly alfalfa) pellets in the watering water to see if that helps.

(Remember, I can't use fish products, because the cat will kill the plants looking for it.)
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You still haven't started an AACT set up? All you need is a good aquarium aerator pump. I'm running a Whisper10 with a 2" stone in a 2 gal bucket almost constantly. Adding coffee grounds, left over tea and coffee, juice, sprout rinsing water, etc. Occasionally a dollop of organic unsulphured molasses (it says " a good source of potassium, calcium, and iron" on the label), rarely rinsing out DH's finished bottles of soda (a tiny bit of phosphorus... Eh, does potassium benzoate preservative add potassium or harm the microbes?). You should see it go nuts after adding edamame blanching water (no salt) or vermicompost leacheate.

I use this water diluted by 1/2 for my plants and seedlings depending on what's in it.

In no particular schedule, I clean out the bucket and brew vermicompost tea with molasses.

About once a month, I've been making weak Dr. Earth tomato fertilizer tea and citrus fertilizer tea (i.e. NOT according to package directions). These are then diluted about 1:2 or 1:3. These can be a bit stinky and can get offensively stinky if you don't use it up right away. First time I made that mistake, I had to take the malodorous dregs in the bucket out to the garage -- I added some lime and covered the dregs with with cedar shavings to mask the smell (I was thinking humanure bucket toilet.) After a month, it doesn't smell any more. (Yeah, I could have take it it to the compost pile, but I was experimenting.... :P)
Last edited by applestar on Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Hot peppers need less water than bell peppers....

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OK... thanks for the reminder. This may be the time when I bite the bullet and try making AACT. I actually have the equipment for it now, since we dismantled the aquarium that used to have goldfish. I will have to go back and re-read our 30 page monster AACT thread. :) I've been using worm castings (but I didn't have a lot) in the potting soil and worm bin leachate in the water, but dilute. I'm thinking the soil the peppers are in was before I started trying your idea of the alfalfa pellets as an additive. I will be more careful with the water for the chilis. I never grew hot peppers before.

Thanks for all the help!
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So, I've been using my homemade potting soil for long enough now to get a sense of how it's going. I have to say I don't like it as well as the MG potting soil - but not enough worse, to go back to supporting the chemical industry.

It is not as light, though that may be just a question of adjusting the ingredients/ proportions.

I am having more trouble maintaining the right water balance. It seems like my homemade stuff doesn't wick the water up as well, so it can be too wet at the bottom and too dry at the top.

Things are not growing as well. Chili peppers are still a bit chlorotic, despite adding alfalfa to the soil mix and alfalfa and worm bin leachate to the water and sometimes coffee grounds. Nothing else is chlorotic, but none of it is growing quite as fast or lush as I am used to (and no, I still haven't gotten it together to do the AACT, maybe this weekend).

Sigh... I was hoping to love my homemade stuff, but I can't say that.
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AACT is easy to make. I basiacally use this recipe from Topdollarbread (whatever happenned to him i wonder?)

1-2 cups compost/composted manure/EWC, alfalfa or bat guano
5 TBSP of fish emulsion
5 TBSP of kelp meal
5 TBSP of molasses

Brew for i belive it was 32 hours or so. If using a sprayer put compost etc in cheescloth or an old sock to help keep the sprayer from clogging. I must say I have been slacking on this but Applestar makes it quite a bit maybe ask her.

Good luck RBG
As you know that is just ONE recipe after compost/worm dirt you can really add whatever. But you know this. :wink:

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Planted the malabar spinach last weekend, 3/2, after soaking it and scraping off the outer covering. Planted the roselle today after soaking it. Started moving the Sophie's choice tomatoes off the heat mat, to one per cell. Continuing to pot things up. Took more stuff out in the sunshine today - the cabbages and broccoli that have been going in and out and celery that has not been out before, about 5 trays worth. It will all come back in tonight, but then I am hoping the cabbage and broccoli can just stay out and get planted.

Currently 14 trays under the lights. Nothing more to plant indoors until it is time to start the squashes, but I will very soon be planting outdoors!! :)

Interesting that some stuff, especially the chili peppers, but somewhat the petunias, isn't really liking my homemade potting soil all that much, but some stuff, e.g. bunny tails grass and marigolds, is thriving on it. If I were really expert, I suppose that could tell me what is missing, but I don't know. Will do the AACT this weekend!
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So ... I started my first ever batch of AACT this AM!! :)

In my typical slapdash, it's-not-rocket-science, way, I didn't measure anything. In 2-3 gallons of water, I put in a heaped trowel of mushroom compost, a few alfalfa pellets, a couple turkey basters of worm bin leachate, and a little bit of stuff from the bottom of the worm bin, which is partly leaves and bedding, but hopefully partly worm castings. Put in all the blackstrap molasses from the bottom of the jar, which was probably about 3 TBSP. And put in the pump/airstone from the aquarium.

So it should be ready tomorrow night...

In the meantime the first couple malabar spinach seeds sprouted after one week. They are really pretty! Thick red stems.

My five trays of cabbage, broccoli, celery were out most of the day yesterday, then came back in to avoid the freeze last night and will be going back out today as soon as it warms up a bit, hopefully TO STAY!!
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Your seedlings/plants are going to be SOOO happy! :()
3 Tbs molasses may have been more than you needed for feeding the microbes but the plants will use what's left in the tea I'm sure.

Red stem Malabar spinach is really attractive in all phases. Hope you enjoy. :D

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Oh man, why don't we have an emoticon for kicking yourself!

You all have been telling me about AACT for YEARS. It took the combination of struggling seedlings and a pump/airstone sitting around from dismantled aquarium to finally get me to try it. I put all my stuff together and let it brew for 24 hrs before I started using it. Diluted it 50-50 with water and used it on my seedlings. And left out the alfalfa and other stuff I had been using to try and beef them up, just water, AACT, a little worm bin leachate.

Amazing!! I swear, 12 hrs after I gave it to them, everything was looking happier and growing. It's now 24 hrs (+ a little) since I gave it to them. Every thing has grown noticeably, perked up, greened up, and generally looking as you predicted, Applestar... very happy!!

Outdoors in the past I have made compost infusion, unbrewed compost infused in water. I didn't try that now, so I don't know if it would have helped.

But the AACT was easy and worked so well. I guess I will always have some going after this. You all get to say I told you so a whole bunch!
:D I gave the seedlings a second dose now, I had just left the rest brewing after I used it the first time. I will probably give the rest to the house plants to use it up, since it's been brewing 48 hrs now...

Thanks everyone!!
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:() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :() ITYS :()

:>

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Awesome RBG glad to see it worked. Don't feel bad I started making it at first than stopped I need to try again.

I know you don't want to read all 30 pages of nonsense in the ACCT thread so i will throw out something I remember. The general rule I beleive was 36 hours, after that food sources are get5ting scarce possibly going more aenerobic (sp?). Not sure how crucial it is but I did have some once that went too long, several day's, you could tell by the putrid smell.

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At 48 hrs it still seemed fine and pleasant smelling, but yes, that's why I went ahead and used it up.
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Oh sigh.... brought all the cabbage and broccoli and celery seedlings back IN last night. Down in the low 20's last night and will be only just above freezing for the HIGH today, and in the high teens tonight. The seedlings are looking bedraggled and worse for the wear. They have been going in and out for three weeks or so now. Typical temps for this time of year would be high 55 and low 35...

So starting my cool weather stuff mid Jan turned out to be too early for this slow spring. But it kind of has to work that way, because of limited room under the lights. I need to get all the cool weather stuff out from under the lights, to make room for all the tomatoes, peppers, etc. As it is, everything has been kind of at a stand still for a couple weeks. All the tomatoes need to be potted up, but I have no where to put them until I can get some more stuff out from under the lights.

Lettuces and greens (seeds) have not been sown in the garden yet. Ordinarily they would have gone in at least a week ago. The longer it takes until I can get a decent window of reasonable temps and dry soil, the less time they will have until it gets hot and they bolt....

Fall planted broccoli did not work this year with our long slow winter, but the fall planted spinach is doing well and I can now eat some baby spinach out of my garden! :) Broccoli might have made it if I had covered it.
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Finally! The cabbage etc stayed out last night and still looks ok (temps in mid 20's last night). They are NOT coming back in! The alyssum will go out later today.

Started my second batch of AACT. I haven't done it until now, because everything was just sitting waiting, no more room to pot things up etc. Now that the season is finally moving on, I will give them a new dose. The worm bin is outside and I don't feel like messing with it, so this batch is just mushroom compost and a little bit of alfalfa pellets and molasses. I was looking at it, knowing that I have no idea how "live" the mushroom compost that's been sealed up and shipped to me from where-ever is. So I was wondering if I should add something to seed it with microbes? Go dig some stuff out of the worm bin or compost pile? I have some inoculant stuff for the legumes. Would that be good to add or are they the wrong bacteria?
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You'll probably get more out of it by adding compost or worm castings. If you have leftover legume inoculant, I don't see why not, but they would only benefit specific target legumes and only if they happened to be close to their roots, I believe.

If you have stuff like fish emulsion or kelpmeal, they could be good addition too, but in moderation. Did you say you have an aquarium? Or you could dip out some pond water for Protozoa, etc. You know I add left over juice, tea leaves and coffee grounds.... Experiment! Have fun! :()

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Don't have aquarium-- the reason I'm dong the AACT is that the aquarium got dismantled, so the pump and airstone were freed up for this use.

I do have fish emulsion that is sitting around never getting used, because it drives the cats crazy. I wonder if I put a little bit in the water, if it will be ok. Our one indoor cat left who is getting old and fat and lazy isn't likely to knock the bucket over going for it. The question would be more once it is applied to the seedlings and even more once the seedlings are planted outside, if there might still be enough "fishiness" about them to draw the cats and raccoons. I may give it a try though. And probably throw in just a little bit of my finished compost, just to be sure there is life in there...
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Re: Seeds started!

So in the last couple of days I planted vines: cardinal climber, climbing snapdragon, nasturtium, and moonflower. The only thing left to plant indoors is the squashes. I will probably plant those next weekend.

Today a bunch more stuff goes outside for the first time. As I expected having waited so long, the season is now running away. 70 today and only down to 50 tonight!

Everything is doing great. After a little slow start while I figured out that my homemade potting soil needs a little more supplementation than M-G and started adding alfalfa meal and AACT (!) to it, everything is doing great! I have tons of beautiful plants, many blooming. Tomatoes and peppers are 8 - 10 " tall, very sturdy and the bell peppers are starting to bloom. I have to keep raising the lights every other day or so.

So indoor seed starting season is already starting to wind down. Seems like it went by fast.
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Re: Seeds started!

The cardinal climber I planted friday is up today! :) Almost everything except the recently planted vines is in pots. More stuff is starting to go out.

Sold off $40 worth of cabbage, broccoli, celery, and alyssum on Sun ($1/ pot).

Planted cabbage, broccoli, celery and peas at the community garden plot at church. The onions I planted there in the fall (seed) are doing really well.

It's spring!!! :D :D :D
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Re: Seeds started!

Today I planted six varieties of squash (acorn, butternut, yellow crookneck summer squash, delicata, tromboncino, honeybear - another hybrid variety of acorn) and hyacinth bean vine (which accidentally got missed when I was planting all the other vines). So ....

DONE!!! Nothing else will get planted under the lights.

Currently still have 16 trays under the lights (the max that will fit in the space), 16 trays hardening off on the deck, a bunch of stuff planted and a bunch of stuff sold and will sell more tomorrow.

Happy Spring! :)
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Re: Seeds started!

Oh man, this is peak of the seed starting season, when everything is feeling a little overwhelming and infinite! I have potted up at least 700 plants and lots more to come. Almost all the vines and squashes I planted have sprouted already and will need to be potted up pretty soon, because they grow so fast.

So I keep needing more and more pots, potting soil, space. I'm running out of space everywhere. Because spring was slow coming and I'm trying to hold more back for the big plant sale the beginning of May, I haven't gotten rid of as many as I usually would by now. So I'm running out of deck space to put the hardening off/ waiting to get sold or planted ones...

Every one of my 3.5 inch pots holds a pint of potting soil....

But I will say after some concerns initially, my homemade potting soil has worked well. I had to figure out that it needed to be pumped up with supplements (including AACT !! :) ) a bit more compared to the Miracle Gro stuff I was used to. But once I got that together, everything has done great. Tons of big beautiful plants out there, lots of tomatoes and peppers with blooms on them. I'm ready to get things in the ground and be done with indoor gardening! All I want is to be outdoors these days....
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Re: Seeds started!

That sounds so great! :D
I'm dithering about uppotting because they are predicting another drop into mid 30's over the weekend! :shock: I have no room and even when they are being kept in the little 2" mini-blocks, the tomatoes have exceeded the available headroom under the lights. If they come in, they'll just have to sit in the dark until the morning. :roll:

I'm rather disappointed that you were unable to post pictures this spring. Maybe you can put up a sideshow or something later on when you can, assuming you've been taking pictures. 8)
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Re: Seeds started!

Yeah I have to keep bringing more tomatoes and peppers out because they have exceeded the head room, and they are just too big to have 18 in a tray, keep shading each other out.

Sorry, but no, I haven't even been taking any pictures this year. I'm disappointed too, but oh well another season. But I do wish I could show my babies off, they are beautiful. :)

Tomatoes are getting top heavy in the little pots and really should be up-potted into bigger pots, but I am just refusing to do that (MORE potting soil!). They will get sold off or planted. Fri and Sat nights here are predicted to go down to 38, but I am usually at least a couple degrees warmer here in the city heat island. They will have to tough it out! After that, it warms right back up and I am not expecting any more temps in the 30's. Average low for us this time of year is 45.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Seeds started!

Four more trays of mostly tomatoes and peppers came out in the sunshine, so I turned off one set of lights! Indoor seed starting season is winding down. The lights may have to come back on briefly when I get all the squash plants potted up and separated, but target date to get everything out and all the lights off is the first of May, which is coming up.
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Cola82
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Re: Seeds started!

700 plants! You are a superwoman.

You're right about feeling overwhelmed, though. I have less than a quarter the plants and I feel swamped. Seriously, that's amazing.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Seeds started!

So .. indoor seed starting season is now OVER! The last of the plants have gone outside an all the lights are off. The only reason it wasn't a bit sooner is that I ran out of my little pots a good while ago. So some of the potting up had to wait until I got some things planted. Every time I emptied some little pots, I ran them back inside and filled them up again! :)

So our big Quaker Meeting plant sale is this weekend, and I will have at least 400 of my seedlings there, donated to the sale. The plant sale funds all the activities of our Friends in Unity with Nature committee for the year.
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digitS'
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Re: Seeds started!

rainbowgardener wrote:So .. at least 400 of my seedlings there, donated to the sale. The plant sale funds all the activities of our Friends in Unity with Nature committee for the year.
Wow, Rainbow! That seems like such a good idea!

I also have trouble finding room for plant starts. Quite a few things are out of the greenhouse right now. Nothing in the house after the first week or so in the south window. That's cramped enuf seeing how I share room at the south window!

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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