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McKinney88
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

I think I'm going to try that next year ohio tiller. That looks like a good method.

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applestar
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Do you always let the germinated seeds sprout to that extent?
It's usually better to sow the seeds as soon as they have germinated -- that means when the tips of the root radical shows. In tiny seeds, they should look like white dots and tomatoes no more than 1/4". They are sown at their normal depth.

You can see what the larger seeds look like when pre-germinated in this thread
:arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 48&t=57487

When they are nearly ready to sprout out of the seed husks I find it harder to judge how deep to sow/plant them. How did you plant those?
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JPNguyen
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Very useful info. I didn't think to avoid peat pots. I always tend to over water, think more water was better. But obviously it wasn't always the case. I was doing more harm from over water by causing rot.

imafan26
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

A rule of thumb is to plan seeds that are tiny on the surface and larger seeds about 1-1/2 times their diameter deep.

I do not have luck with small cells.

Cell trays take up a lot of space so I use community pots for seed starting. That way I can grow a variety of plants in minimal space.

I mostly use 4 or six inch pots but sometimes I will start seeds in flats.

The pots need to be clean and filled with sterile media. You can use potting soil, but I prefer to mix 50/50 peatmoss and perlite.

I will plant multiple seeds in the pots or the flats and after they have germinated and gotten their true leaves, then I will transplant them into individual pots or to the ground.

This method works fine for most plants that transplant easily. I have also used community pots for dill and beets. Beets usually transplant fine. Dill, fennel and other plants with delicate roots need to be transplanted carefully. I will usually plant more of them since I do not expect all of them to survive. Flats sometimes work out better for the more delicate plants since I can spread the seed out more and cut out blocks when it is time to transplant.

For some seeds that can be fussy to germinate like parsley and coriander, soaking seeds in warm water overnight helps.
Morning glory and hard seeds may need to be scarified first.

For harder to germinate seeds. I will soak and scatter the seeds on the surface of the media and cover with a light sprinkling of potting mix. To keep tiny seeds in place, I cover the seeds with a piece of paper towel and water through the paper towel. Keep the paper towel from drying out. After about 7-10 days check to see if the seeds have germinated. When most of the seedlings have germinated, gently remove the towel and bottom water until the seedlings are large enough to be top watered.

Some seeds need light to germinate and others need to be cold stratified first.

6 weeks before planting garlic, I keep my bulbs in the refrigerator crisper in a paper bag.

Inoculate legume seeds for better nitrogen fixing nodules. Most garden beans, peas and soy use the cowpea inoculant.

Some seeds have a long dormant period. Sour Sop, I just learned can take 1-3 months to germinate

Keep seeds cool, dark and dry. Store seeds in the refrigerator or freezer. Paper envelopes inside a ziploc bag works. Put in one of the dehydrating gel packs, rice or crackers in the bag to absorb any errant moisture.

Take out only the seeds you need. If you have bulk packs, divide them into smaller packs before storage making sure you label them with name and date. Seeds do not like drastic temperature changes, if you take out a big bag of seeds from the refrigerator or freezer and leave them out for an hour moisture can condense and spoil the seed.

When saving seed, make sure, the seeds you collect are ripe, remove all the debris. Dry seeds out to make sure they do not have any excess moisture. Pick through the seeds and get rid of the bad ones. Put seeds in a paper bag or envelope and note date collected and name of the seeds and store the seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.

Note, seeds will lose viability over time. Test seeds, for germination rate. Many seeds can last 5 years, others are only good for three. Beans and dill are good for over 10 years.
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Flowers
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Wow I'm so happy I came accross this thread! I decided to start some of my seedlings indoors this year, but grow lights can be so expensive! I was thinking it was not possible to start seedlings on a budget. I think I will try Garden Gnome's set up (1st page) with the walmart lights and heat mats. I think that should be good enough for a small scale home garden. Thank you!
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Yup, all you need is regular shop light fixtures with standard fluorescent tubes/ bulbs. I start maybe 500 plants a year from seed that way.
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Mr green
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Yeah the flouresent tubes are the way to go. LED work great but generally they are too expensive for the lower energy cost to matter any time soon.

Cheap 6500k flourescent bulbs works like a charm for me, i have even grown and harvested chili grown with no other light.
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NJ Bob
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Great thread! I read through the whole thing today. I'm using 3 Walmart fluorescent fixtures with T8 daylight tubes and I have a heating mat large enough for one 10 X 20 tray. Herbs are doing great. Now it's pepper & tomato time!! :-()

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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Hey again, so I'm trying to start my seeds on a budget, and I looked for some of the lights mentioned on here, but I don't have any shoplight fixtures or anywhere to put them if I did, so I bought this lightbulb and was just planning on putting it into a lamp. Do you think it would work for starting seedlings until they can go outside? Or any other suggestions?

Also, if I got heat mats, do you think it would be possible for the seedlings to germinate outside in the sun? Or would the air be too chilly for them still?
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

I don't know what "this light bulb" means. What kind of light bulb? Is it fluorescent, like a CFL? Old style incandescent bulbs will NOT work. Give off too much heat; if you get it close enough to your plants to do any good, it will burn them up. But it depends on how many seedlings you are talking about. If we are talking about a fluorescent bulb, it needs to be right down close, just 2-3 inches above your plants. At that distance the area it covers is not very big. So you will not be illuminating very many plants.

I use the 4' long fluorescent tubes in shop light fixtures. Running them cross ways four tubes cover four 10x20 trays of seedlings, but that means it is taking four tubes to cover each tray. If the tray is oriented along the length of the tube, it can be illuminated with two tubes, but then you can only do two trays.
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Flowers
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Oops! Sorry I completely forgot to attach a photo. This is the lightbulb.
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skiingjeff
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

According to GE, "The GE Plant Light bulb is tinted blue to highlight the natural beauty and color of your plants -- so they appear healthier and greener." It doesn't say it is a "grow" light so I'd have to say it would not be the best light source for plants.

There are some reviews on Amazon that say it helped their herbs to grow but there are also customer reviews which state it is only for show which agrees with GE's own statement.

I would think getting a florescent lamp even if a small desk top one would be a better choice but I can't say I've experienced using this particular either.

Wish I could be more helpful. Good luck! :)

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applestar
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Yeah that's a floodlight. "Plant Light" is a misnomer for someone looking for light to grow plants with. Not only wrong color range (think brightly colored "fresh" produce in the grocery store that somehow look drab when you bring them home), but wrong type -- only meant to be used in a fixture far away because the bulb will burn very HOT... Then the light will be too scattered to reach the plants at any useful intensity. Take that back and get something else.

Here's an example of a small-scale set up from one of our experienced members in a thread you might want to peruse :wink:

Subject: Grow light setup
hendi_alex wrote:I'm often awed by the fantastic seed starting areas that some of you have, with the large banks of grow lights and the massive shelf area below. Mine is just a rigged bunch of odds and ends. Plants start on a Kane heating mat that was stolen from the outdoor dog. Light comes via 6-8 clip on reflector lamps with 23 watt CF bulbs. Doesn't look very impressive, and is not very effective on a wide scale. Thing is, here in central South Carolina, I just need to start the plants, and then they are usually moved outside in the direct sunlight in the cold frame at least 3-4 days per week in January and February. At that point, the lights just supplement in the early mornings and evenings to give the plants 14-16 hours of light per day. By February the plants are usually staying outside in the cold frame over night, except for the occasional time that the temperatures dip much below 40 degrees. So like most everything else, each person's needs are very individual depending upon location and other factors. Here in our moderate zone 8 location, the cold frame is a much more important tool than having a really great light set up. Zone six and colder, I bet the situation would be just the reverse.

Don't laugh at this setup. Well, if you must!

This is my second round of tomato starts. They are planted in small community pots. Those in the foreground were just transplanted today.
Image
Not sure if I posted this picture in that thread -- here is one of my satellite set ups -- one using a desk lamp -- for overflow seedlings. They get a bit of direct sun when the setting sun pours in through this window.
image.jpg
you can see that the little tray of lettuce and greens microblocks are not QUITE getting enough light and are stretching out. But they'll be uppotted deeper and can go outside very soon.
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Susan W
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

And this simple set up. Kitchen table with east windows. Lights include 2 tract lights way up. 2 shop lights clamped on with 40 watt regular bulbs for heat and light. Floor lamp with 4 cfl and one 60 . yellow sticky trap for fungus gnats, clamp on small fan and kitty to keep watch.
There are close to 200 starts there now and the system keeps moving to other locations as they sprout.
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Flowers
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Do you think I could just start my seeds in potting soil to give them nutrients when they sprout? Or just straight compost? I am strictly organic, so miracle grow is a no go. If not, what would you recomend I fertilize them with? And how often? When should I stop fertilizing and begin fertilizing base on plant needs?
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imafan26
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

I put seeds in 3.5 inch community pots that are about 3 inches deep. I transplant the seedlings when they have true leaves and strong stems to individual 3.5 inch pots. Peppers and tomatoes can stay in 3.5 inch individual pots for a month or until they are about 5-6 inches high then they move on to bigger pots.

It is important with herbs and vegetables and annuals to make sure their growth is not checked. If they stop growing and stunt, they do not reach their full potential. Check the roots of the seedlings to make sure they are not pot bound and pot up or transplant to the ground before they show signs of distress.

Tomatoes get all but the terminal bud and two leaves removed and planted into a 20 inch pot up to the bottom leaf.
Since tomatoes are heavy feeders, I also add 1/2 cup of citrus and avocado food 6-4-6 plus micros as a starter fertilizer mixed into the fresh potting soil.

Peppers get transplanted to 1 gallon pots where they will most likely stay until they start producing peppers. I keep hot peppers in 1 gallon pots for a while. The exception are the tall peppers Hawaiian tabasco peppers, ghost, Trinidad scorpion, and super chili get put into larger pots as they get bigger. Super chile and tabasco can live for many years so they end up in 14 inch pots or bigger, if not in the ground.

I sow onions thickly since they don't always germinate well and they are slow to grow. I will divide a community pot into four sections and I transplant one section into another 3.5 inch pot. Leeks will be planted out into the garden with one bulb a couple of inches apart, green onions into a one gallon pot for the rest of its 2 year life, and chives into small clumps or 6 inch pots.

I like to put spreading herbs like thyme, oregano, and mint into 14 inch bowls. They ground layer and I can repot them as they root. Other herbs can go into 1 gallon or larger pots, depending on their size and root mass. Pineapple sage (14 inch pot) Stevia (3 gallon pot), Ginger (tree pot), cardamom (1 gallon pots. I need to divide frequently. I do not allow them to reach full size.) Sage is happier in full sun in the ground. Lavender happier in the ground but does o.k. in pots 1 gallon to start and potted up as the shrub gets bigger up to a 20 inch pot. Rosemary 6 inch to 1 gallon and potted up as it grows. It can live 20 years or more, bay leaf 1 gallon pot for up to three years then potted up as needed.

Annual herbs that are not in the ground can usually pot up to a one gallon pot.
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applestar
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

I've been blending potting mix with equal part hydrated coir and then adding just a small amount of sand and large particle DE (diatomaceous earth sold as oil absorbent -- I'm using brand called UltraSorb -- experimenting this year as possible alternative to perlite). I think straight potting mix might be too strong/unnecessary -- for me this is as much about reducing cost.

Some seeds won't germinate as well in too rich mix. It's better to use the full strength potting mix for uppotting after first set of true leaves.
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digitS'
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Seeds start with very little, if any, need for plant food. A seed is quite the storehouse of nutrients. I will not plan to add any fertilizer to the commercial soil mix for the first weeks after the seedlings have begun to grow.

I have nearly ruined my growing season using an off-brand of soil, once. Now, I'm afraid to use anything but standard Black Gold Organic potting soil. I'm all but certain that it isn't the best for starting seeds but those seedlings are at their most vulnerable stage. I imagine that all gardeners develop convictions, notions and superstitions that they rely on. We rely on what has worked in the past.

After several weeks of bottom watering, I begin using a watering wand. Whatever fertility the mix originally had must now be lost from top watering and growth. The plants may also begin to be root-bound by this time. Now, I may fertilize.

Lately, I have just used a dry organic fertilizer as what I will use in the open garden. A half teaspoon 5-5-5 fertilizer has plenty of plant food for a 6 week-old plant in a 4-pack. A little more potting soil can go over it to keep the fertilizer from washing out.

I have used fish emulsion, instead. Works great. Follow dilution directions.

Steve
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Flowers
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

This is the setup I've ended up with for the budget I have.

The grow lights were about $60 at ace hardware and are big enough for my little garden. And they came with a stand that allows you to adjust the height, so no chains and pullies necessary :)

I got a basic seedling heat mat online for 20$, but I saw them at ace as well for about the same price.

I currently just have a couple bell pepper seeds germinating, but plan to add more soon. They're in 4 inch biodegradable pots in a plastic tray (depending how the biodegradable ones work out, I might just cut holes in the plastic tray and use that.) I like this size pot because I don't have to transplant until they're ready to go out to the garden.

I put them in organic potting soil so I don't have to worry about fertilizing right off the bat.

It's not fancy, and you can't get much out of it, but I'm hoping this system will be good enough for my garden. :) I'll update on the success later
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Ginger Spudman
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

What a great thread... I wish I'd seen this before venturing into my first attempt at growing seeds. Soil, water, and a window for light, how hard can it be, right? 8) :lol: Well I've learned my lesson.

I made pretty much every rookie mistake you can. I got some Jiffy peat pots and seedling starting mix, with the dome, watered from the top and put the trays at my window. You can probably guess the results. I was thrilled when my seeds sprouted, only to discover that they came up leggy and weak. No doubt this was due to a lack of proper lighting. Then I left the domes on too long and developed that white fungus on some of the cells.

I took the domes off, bolted to the hardware store and picked up a shoplight and flourescent bulbs. I strung it up on a wire shelving unit that I have and stuck my suffering seedlings right under the light. Too little, too late. Although they seemed to react positively to proper lighting, my continuing practice of watering from the top (misting, no less) led to damping off and fungus gnats. I tried the cinnammon thing, but it's too late. As of this morning, the last of my leggy seedlings toppled over and breathed its last.

Well, lessons learned. I'm going to try again today with plastic pots and rainbow's method from the very first post. I know I'm close to the wire with my timing - our last frost here usually comes around mid-May. I won't be able to replant everything, but I think a few of my flower seeds have a shot. I have nothing to lose at this point and if anything I'll be fully prepared for next year. Live and learn right?

If there's one silver lining to this it's that my delphiniums (pacific giants) are still alive. I had put them in plastic pots so that they could germinate in the cool darkenss of my garage. They did come up a but leggy (I didn't check on them often enough) but they seem to be enjoying life under the light and haven't died yet, despite my top-watering/misting. I'll start a separate thread about them with pics when I get home.

Some questions:
1) I have some store-bough seeds left over. Can they still be used next year? I currently have them in a ziploc bag in a drawer.

2) Bottom watering - Do you do this right from the start? Meaning, you fill the cells with your medium and bottom water right away? Will that provide enough moisture for germination? Just trying to work out the right process here - Fill cells, bottom water, plant seeds once medium is moist?

Thank you for your patience with my sorrowful tale.

NJ Bob
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

1) your seeds should be fine for next year

2) I pre-moisten (not drench) my starting soil before filling my starting trays. I bottom-water once I see the top of the cells getting dry.

Experimentation is one of the fun aspects of gardening. This time next year you'll be an expert. :lol:

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digitS'
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

I know that the emphasis has been on electrical lighting. Don't discount the possibilities of natural sunlight.

When I worked in a greenhouse here in the 1970's and '80's, we had supplemental electric lights installed. Some of those greenhouses in that range had been built in the 1920's. So, for fifty years, the plants grown in those greenhouses had only sunlight.

At 48°North, I live further north than Toronto, at 44°N, in southern Canada. The hours of winter daylight are brief; the sun hugs the southern horizon. There are mountains.

Also, this location is a few hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean. Even if we have Wild West summer days of sun and heat, winter and spring days are often cloudy ;).

Glass reflects sunlight. Insulated windows, with two panes of glass, filter out a good deal of light from a home interior. Transparent coverings for protected growing, filter out light. The angle of the sunlight to the glass or plastic film is important to how much is reflected.

It might be best if my backyard greenhouse could be turned on its foundation to more directly face the sun as it moves through the day. I didn't build it that way ;). Twenty years ago I did talk with the engineers at the local utility company about "solar gain" and the angle of the south wall. My greenhouse might better be called a "sunshed."

For the first few weeks, most of my seedlings are in a south window of the house, however. A shop light above the table in that window also help. The lighting conditions are not optimal but, certainly, adequate. Some years, I haven't even bothered with that shop light.

By the way :), at noon some day, lie down on your lawn a few feet from one of your south windows. Look at that window --- better wear your sunglasses!!! I suppose your lawn grass may benefit but that's light lost to your indoor plants.

Steve
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Ginger Spudman
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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

By way of update... i ditched the peat pots and domes and replanted some seeds in plain old Styrofoam cups with basic MG potting mix. They are now basking under the light for a solid 16 hours daily and I'm carefully bottom watering them.

I did this on Saturday... came home today to find I've already got marigolds sprouting! Also, it looks like my delphiniums have survived the great dampening off massacre of 2016. Before i dumped the peat pots i saw fungus gnats buzzing around them and i got worried. Haven't seen anything since and I'm putting some cinnamon in the water. They are definitely developing and it looks like true leaves are starting to bud.

I wanted to post pics of all of this but I'm being told the images are too large. Help?

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Re: Seed starting basics for newbies

Hi,
If you're trying to upload a photo straight from your camera, it's possible that the photo is a size resolution meant to be printed like a photograph. For posting on a website an image needs to be a smaller size. How big are your images?

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