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LA47
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Starting some seeds today!

Just some broccoli and tomatoes today. I bought a new heat pad this year but, somehow, in the packing and moving, I have mis-placed my old one. I'm mounting a search today for it and will hopefully find it. If so, I'll also start some onions and chard. Mike and I made 2 wicking mats for 2 trays. One we made with plywood and 2x2's and the other we made with foam. We covered them with Burpee's wicking mat but, as we make more, I'll use newspapers. Oh, I like the wood platform better that the foam. There's a larger water reservoir under the wood while the foam sinks to the bottom with the weight of the soil. Hmm? :idea: ..I can put 2x4's under the foam to raise it up!
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LA47
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Something came up and I didn't get any seeds planted until the 16th. I planted (2 seeds in each cell) 10 various tomato, 25 brocolli, Jacobs ladder, penstemmom, alyssum (royal carpet and carpet of snow), cosmos, and zinnia. I was really shocked when I saw sprouts of the last 3 flowers mentioned. Of course, it is snowing like crazy right now and has almost covered the grass that was showing yesterday. :cry: I just hope I didn't get too anxious and started things too early! In the last hour it has snowed over an inch. The grass is covered!

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LA47
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I am using the self wicking trays I made and I'm getting concerned. I have to add close to a quart of water every other day to the tray. The mat isn't dry but the water that feeds the mat is almost gone. I've touched poked my finger in the soil in the pots and they don't seem to wet. Is everything working as it is suppose to? I never really noticed how much water I used before trying the mats.
PS, I have 36 pot trays so that equals about 2 cups of water per day in each tray.
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applestar
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I'm hoping people who keep track of such things better than I will respond. My vague impression is that they drink more than you might expect, Especialy once the seedlings start to grow.

One of the issues I have with bottom watering is that you can't tell if they need water by the way the soil feels at the top. If you force the soil to saturate to the top every time you water from the bottom, sensitive plants will die from overwatering, and dampening off is more likely. You only want to add enough water to the tray that the containers readily soak up. So with an automated system, it's impossible to see exactly how much they are taking up.

But if your seedlings are alive and well, then basically, that's how much water you need to add. -- CONGRATULATIONS, YOU FIGURED IT OUT :> -- Other factors are temp, humidity and evaporation (fan, etc.) if there is no leaks. Also make sure nothing else that could be soaking off the moisture is touching the wicking pad.

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LA47
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The way I built them the bottom of the tray sits on the heat pad, then there is the wicking mat and the tray of plants are sitting on it. I have a dome on the plants but it just sits on the edge of the plant tray leaving a gap of about 1/2 inch that is exposed to the air. Maybe it is evaporating through that gap. As soon as the seeds have sprouted I will take off the domes and have a fan on them and move them close to the lights. That will probably help.

I did make one big mistake in planting broccoli with my tomato plants. The broccoli ial mostlyly sprouted but the tomatoes aren't. I've been worrying about that and decided to take the dome off and just lay plastic over the tomatoes. I think that will work. i keep the seeds covered because our house is extremely dry. I really must get a humidifier for our health also.
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applestar
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Yeah, that's one reason I don't like to use those cell inserts and prefer community seed starting containers. This year's soil blocks do help to individually move them around. Marlingardener said she cuts the cell inserts apart or something though -- maybe she buys the kind that can be separated into 6 packs, etc.

Broccoli is going to need to grow in cooler temps once sprouted and seed leaves unfurl. I would at least slide the broccoli end of the tray off of the heating pad.

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LA47
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Thanks! I remember reading on here that some needed warmth but others needed to be kept cool. I could have ruined my broccoli! In fact I printed off some charts. I'll check them out. Again, thanks for answering.
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Even though broccoli is a cool weather plant, its seeds do germinate better with heat. I sprouted mine on the heat mat and they sprouted in less than three days. Then I moved them off the heat mat fairly quickly.

I don't know if the picture is just a little washed out, but everything is looking a bit pale. Are they getting plenty of light? I think the plastic cover cuts down on the light they get also.

It seems like if you are planting broccoli and tomatoes at the same time, it is either too early for the tomatoes or a bit late for the broccoli. I plant my broccoli seed 4 - 5 weeks earlier than the tomatoes. The broccoli (usually!) goes in the ground at least a month earlier than the tomatoes, being very cold hardy and frost tolerant.
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Just for reference, I figure I average putting 1.5 cups of water per day per tray in my 1020 trays, sometimes a little more, some times a little less. Putting that much water in, it has usually all been taken up by the next morning. So you may be putting in a bit more, but not by orders of magnitude.
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LA47
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I felt they were getting too wet so I drained the water out and was going to let it dry out a little so I could monitor it better. Mike walked in 2 hours later and told me the plants were out of water so he watered them for me..a lot! We agreed that he would leave the plants in my care. :roll:
All the years he worked, the garden was my job. He would help, if asked, like tilling or weeding if they got ahead of me but he had no interest in it. The last 4 years, since he retired for good, have been a learning experiance for him, and me. I wanted him to save me some of the leaves so I could put a couple inches on the garden that fall. I was busy canning and he came in, very proud, and said he tilled in 8 inches of leaves in the garden and also the wood chips (I had intended to much the walkways with)!!! It destroyed the garden area for 3 years until it composted enough to sustain the plants. Don't misunderstand me, he is a great guy, just trying to help. He is learning and has even asked about doing things, some times, before he jumps in.
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LA47 wrote:. . . Don't misunderstand me, he is a great guy, just trying to help. He is learning and has even asked about doing things, some times, before he jumps in.
No, we understand, LA :wink: .

I don't know anything about wicking mats OR heating pads for starting seeds. Altho', I do all bottom-watering for the first several weeks, you seemed to be getting good advice and sharing your good observations.

That is something that I have learned in tending seedlings and other babies. They are needing about the best care that you can reason out to give them. No "industry" can do it better. The "heavy lifting" is all about attentiveness.

Give your hubby a hug now and then. Then, punch him on the shoulder and threaten to tweak his ear. That'll help. You know how boys are!

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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LA47
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I finally pulled the water wicking mats out. I found some cells seemed too dry and some were so wet they were getting mold started on the soil. I'll start watering as I always have.
Maybe I didn't press the soil down equally in each pot or hold my tongue the right way, but I didn't care for them.
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LA47
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Re: Starting some seeds today!

Okay, most of my seedlings have at least 2 sets of leaves now, not counting the first ones. I planted in miracle grow planting mix. RBG, when you commented about the plants looking pale, it was the lights. But now they do look paler than they should. I planted most of it on March 15th so the plants are 6 weeks old now. My question is, with them looking pale should I do something? I know Miracle grow has timed released fertilizer in it so I don't know if I should give them some Super Thrive. Or, I ordered organic kelp meal and alfalfa meal that should be here in about 3 days, and could try AACT? Or am worrying too much?
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applestar
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Re: Starting some seeds today!

I think this is related to the uneven watering issue you mentioned in the previous post. Water stressed plants -- Overwatered as well as underwatered -- as likely to turn yellow or look pale/less vigorous.

It's best not to fertilize stressed plants, though I would go with dilute AACT.
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