The Mad Hatter
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Start to 2011.

Well, I have cleared out all my old home brewing stuff I never used any more and threw it all on Craig's List.

Now that its all gone, I have the space for some shelving units and some lights. Please excuse the missing drywall lol but I needed to get this ready first. Once the plants are out in the garden I will finish this out.

The shelves that I have are wide enough to put four flats on each shelf. I have two four foot lights hanging over each shelf with 6500k bulbs.

I need to work out my heating pad problem. The pads I bought yesterday only stay on for two hours then turn themselves off. So, I will be sending those back to Walgreens in hopes to find pads that will stay on.

Anyone have any other suggestions other than heating pads, or suggestions in general will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for all the help so far!

T.M.H.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110101_132323.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110101_132311.jpg[/img]

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Avonnow
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Looks Nice

I am trying to get something going as well. I am using a regular heating pad I have had for years, it seems to do well and doesn't shut off, and then I have some regular old overhead lights above the counter top. I am just afraid to leave the pad on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I also thought I would need alot of heating pads if I tried alot of containers. You think a heating blanket would be dangerous? Just a thought, they are alot bigger. Also how hot is to hot. I read you need it at least 14 hours a day of heat, what have you heard? I also just ordered one of those Bio-Domes from Park Seed - I hope it lives up to my expectations. If it does I will get some more. Not sure if I want to try it alone or with the pad. I just like you need alittle more info on how much heat is needed, how hot and how much light. I am also trying smaller milk jugs and containers with my self made dome covers. I don't expect anything spectacular, just hoping to learn alittle more with each try. :wink: Good Luck I will keep checking back.
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Halfway
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try to find a used water bed heater for really cheap or a new one. They do wear out over time, but they are larger than heating pads and are thermostat controlled.
Zone 4a.

The Mad Hatter
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Halfway wrote:try to find a used water bed heater for really cheap or a new one. They do wear out over time, but they are larger than heating pads and are thermostat controlled.
It kind of funny that you mention that. I found two on Craig's list for $20.00 for the pair. Wife just got back with em.

I Google's it and it looks le there are two ways of doing the water bed heaters. One being building a simple frame with a bottom. Fill half full with sand, place the heater in and then top off with more sand.

The second method is to layout the waterbed heater and duct tape the thermostats probe This the mat itself. This is important as you do not want the mat to try to get the room temorature to the 75 or so degrees.

I believe that this is the way I will be doing mine as I do not want to lug sand downstairs if I do not have to.

Once I get it set up and going I believe I will give it a test run with a few seeds that I have weft over from last year. At least I will be able to get a general idea of how the thermostat is going to work. 70 degrees on the thermostat will not necessarily mean that the temperature of the tray will be 70. I am suspecting that it will be a bit lower but until I tsake them for a test drive I will not know.

T.M.H.

The Mad Hatter
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Well, I believe that the waterbed heating pads are going to be a huge success. They are Aqua Queen heating pads. I found these on Craig's List for $20.00 for the pair.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110101_220324.jpg[/img]

I took some fancy Walmart camouflage duct tape and taped the theramostat probe to the heating pad itself. In theoray this should keep the pad from overheating its self since in reality it is really heating itself and not the room temperature.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110101_221017.jpg[/img]

Once I had it all taped down I made sure that the thermostat was turned all the way dawn, in this case to 70 degrees. The light came on indicating we got power. BONUS! I felt around with my hands and could feel it getting nice and warm. It clicked off right away since Tue temp was set so low.

I turned it up to 80 to see how the mat would react. It came back on heated up and clicked back off. I moved the mat to see how the wood felt underneath the mat. Very cool to the touch. Could not even tell that it was running. That was reassuraing. I turned it up This 85 This see if that made any difference at all. It worked the same, turned on and off and all the while the shelfing stays cool.

I got out some old carrot seeds from last years that I had stuffed in the back of a drawer to use at my test subject. I got out five jiffy pellets and dropped in a few seeds into each one and covered them up and placed the dome on top and on the mat under the light. So far. It is working great. Nothing is even remotely close to hot. Just cool to warm. The heater kicks on for about 45 seconds or so and turns back off. That happens every six to eight minuets. Give it take. Now I know these are not pepper or tomato plants that are a bit more difficult to get started, but this is just a trio around the block to see how she's going to take the corners so to speak.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110101_223302.jpg[/img]

So far so good. I closed it up at 10:38 tonight. Any takers as to when the first seed will poke his little head out?

Either way, thus is turning out to be one of the coolest hobbies I have heh. More updates to come later. Got one more loaf of zucchini bread to make for our last Christmas dinner for tomorrow, then I probably better go tie up for a bit. G-night everyone.

T.M.H.

The Mad Hatter
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One thing that I am thinking here is that if this is only turning on every six minuets or so and staying on for roughly a minuet is this really doing any good?

What I mean is it just seems like the amount of time on versus the amount if time off does not seem correct to me. I would have thought that it should be running a bit longer. Maybe not. Maybe for a follow up test I will build a sand box and see if there is a difference in the amount if time that it takes to sprout another test batch.

That will be pretty easy to duplicate. I am banking that the sand box methond, once heated up would be more efficient of a heat source since the sand should hold that heat for a longer time. I would think... perhaps not....

Ok, really going to bed this time.....

T.M.H.

wordwiz
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I think it may be because you have the thermostat taped to the mat the thing is going off so quickly. I set my tray of seeds and mix on the thermostat and mine stays oon a lot longer.

Mike

The Mad Hatter
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wordwiz wrote:I think it may be because you have the thermostat taped to the mat the thing is going off so quickly. I set my tray of seeds and mix on the thermostat and mine stays oon a lot longer.

Mike
I think you are correct Mike. I would venture to say that the lights are heating more than my pad is right now. I will still finish out the little test so I have a baseline to go against.

I do have a simple idea in mind for the sand project though. I believe that I will try to get that set up today after our last family Christmas get together using the other heat mat.

T.M.H.

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For quick test, I kinda think tomato or basil seeds would be better since they"ll germinate quickly in 3~5 days under ideal conditions. Broccoli and cabbage seeds, too, are gratifyingly quick to germinate with bottom heat. Carrots can take longer, I think. Sowing some seeds not on the mat for control might be an idea, too. 8)

I'm fascinated by your experiment though, so keep us updated! :wink:

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I use the heating pads from drugstore, with no cut-off timer. I only have two, which is fine for me. The cool weather crops like broccoli, etc don't need them. The other stuff just gets germinated on the heat pads. Once the seeds have sprouted and have some true leaves, they get moved off the heat pads so I can put something else there.

I do run them 24/7 on low or medium. I have run them 24/7 for three months a year for about a decade now. It seems like that would be WAY more use than it would have been designed for, but they are still going...

It will be time to get them out again pretty soon! :)
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The Mad Hatter
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applestar wrote:For quick test, I kinda think tomato or basil seeds would be better since they"ll germinate quickly in 3~5 days under ideal conditions. Broccoli and cabbage seeds, too, are gratifyingly quick to germinate with bottom heat. Carrots can take longer, I think. Sowing some seeds not on the mat for control might be an idea, too. 8)

I'm fascinated by your experiment though, so keep us updated! :wink:
Thanks for the vote if confidence. I didn't know carrots took longer to pop out. Its all I had laying around the house.

I do like the idea of trying another test set of seeds that are nit on the pads. So, once I get back home tonight and get last nights information wrote down I will have to get into town and get some sand and some different seeds.

Tomatoes have been suggested. Since this is turning into somewhat if an educational documentary for me I will leave it up to the crew of awesome gardeners we have here. So, what would everyone like to see as a test bed?

The seeds will come out of the local Earl May.

Since I have pretty much every square inch of the garden spoken for, the test bed plants will also turn into another experiment for me and that is growing in large pots.

This is turning into a really cool thread, and I greatly appreciate the assistance and advice.

T.M.H.

The Mad Hatter
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rainbowgardener wrote:I use the heating pads from drugstore, with no cut-off timer. I only have two, which is fine for me. The cool weather crops like broccoli, etc don't need them. The other stuff just gets germinated on the heat pads. Once the seeds have sprouted and have some true leaves, they get moved off the heat pads so I can put something else there.

I do run them 24/7 on low or medium. I have run them 24/7 for three months a year for about a decade now. It seems like that would be WAY more use than it would have been designed for, but they are still going...

It will be time to get them out again pretty soon! :)
The drugstore heating pads was my original thought as well. The problem that I ran into was that nobody orders in pads that stay on longer than two hours. I hit Walgreens, Walmart, and Dollar General.

The pharmacist at Walmart told me that there are to many law suits around where drugstores are being sued over a faulty pad that should have shut off. Crazy, I know.

The cost of one heating pad is roughly 14 to 18 dollars. I figured on needing at least eight of these if I decided to start everything at once.

The cost of the water bed pads were $20.00 for the paid and will heat a four foot by three foot shelf. Then I can decide to use just one part of the shelf or load up the entire thing.

T.M.H.

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rainbowgardener
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What ever kind of heat you use, starting everything at once is not what works for me. 1) not everything can go out at once. I start broccoli earlier than tomatoes because the broccoli can be transplanted out a lot sooner than the tomatoes. It does not work for me to start the tomatoes too early... they get tall and leggy and then snap in the first wind once they go out. I start squashes last because they germinate and grow so fast and they can't get transplanted out until the ground is really warmed up. So I start the squash seeds about when I move the tomatoes out to start hardening off.

2) I would need a lot more room if I were doing everything at once. This way I can plant new things in the spaces made when other things are moved out, potted up or whatever.

3) At least at the scale I do it, it would be crazy amount of work if I had everything going at once and needing transplanting at once. Most of my seedlings get transplanted three times.... I plant them crowded in the little cells, then I spread them out to one per cell and then I pot up into 3" pots and then they go in the ground or container or where ever they are going to live. (For some of the larger faster growing plants one or the other of those steps gets skipped, either they go directly from crowded in the cells to the pots or for big seeds like squash, I may only plant one per cell to start.) By starting things a little at a time, I can work on it a little at a time. Beginning of April gets pretty crazy anyway, with some things going in and out, starting to harden off, but being brought in at night, some things just started and about 500 plants waiting for the weather to be right...
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I believe I could have been a bit more descriptive in some of my posts. For me personally, everything means tomatoes and pepper plants. That's all I will have inside. The squash and all that other stuff I do not grow.

T.M.H.

The Mad Hatter
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Somewhat of a short update today. I got the wood cut yesterday for the frame of the shelf that I will turn into the heated bed. I plan on having the frame mirror the top on the bottom just to give it a little more stability. I also plan on putting some drywall sheet over the top of the frame just to keep the sand inside the framework. I think some cheap flooring is in order for the top to keep the water spots off the drywall. Not really necessary but it should make it look nice to.

Here is the frame being glued up. Of course I am short on clamps. Oh well, I love going to Menards anyhow....

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110103_160729.jpg[/img]

The Mad Hatter
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Well I finished up the framework tonight that holds the sand. We filled the frame half way up with sand, placed a heater in the middle and filled it the rest if the way up. I have my esteemed colleague directing me on the direction to go next.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110104_175411.jpg[/img]

Once we had it filled up we thought that it would be a good idea to put a removable top on it, just invade anything should go south with the heater. We wont have any loose sand on the floor either while taking trays in or out.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110104_182807.jpg[/img]

Now that we got a top on it my dear Joselyn says "Papa, its brown and ugly ". So off to Menards we go. Not that I minded the brown at all, but her being so the senior employee on the job, giw could I say no? I must admit, she has pretty good taste.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110104_183646.jpg[/img]

Top is on and this should help with any spilled dirt and water since I am not known for my grace. The pad is heating up and now it is just a matter if time before the entire bed is nice and warm. I did have to adjustbthe height of the lights. We will see if I need both heaters in the bed it just the one. Right now, I have only one in there and hope that I can keep it that way.

[img]https://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d118/Scooter6512/IMG_20110104_184256.jpg[/img]

I hope everyone has enjoyed this so far as much as I have. Up next, as soon as the bed heats up will be to mess around with some cabbage. I plan on starting some in the new bed with the heat and some just under the grow lights.

T.M.H.

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TMH,

How are things heating up? I'm wondering with the air gap between the sand and hardboard / linoleom it may not warm up.
You may have to remove the hard top and place the trays right in the sand. Are the waterbed pads water proof?


Eric

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So far it is heating up pretty well. I do think you are right though about the hard board. It could be warmer without it but I just can't stand the sand on the floor lol. It should be warm enough for them to pop out ok. The test batch of carrots sprouted sometime yesterday so I have some cabbage and peppers on there now. Time will tell on how it does and how I build the next one. The heating mats are sealed as well. That was the first thing I looked at.

T.M.H.

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Forgot to mention about the air gap. The picture with my daughter playing in the sand the shelf is only half full. I did fill it completely level with the top of the sides before I put the top on. There is quite a bit of sand in there though. Depending on how this first run works out I may pull the top and put the second heater in This help balance the warmth around. Right now it is really nice in the middle and it fades towards the edges.

I suppose that is ok though to as I just lined a long flat and a half flat up in the middle right under the lights anyhow. Guess it really depends on how much you want to load the top up.

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TMH,

Good to hear that it's working. I agree, tomatoes and peppers will be the real test. Cabbage not so much.


Just noticed your last post. I would use the cooler edges for cabbage and other cool season starts. I would also add more lights.

Eric

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I currently have four 6500k bulbs (two fixtures) over each table top. You think I need more than that? The table tops are four foot long by two food wide. The way I have the lights set up now they are just above the domes of the flats. They light up all the top pretty well.

T.M.H.

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TMH,

No, your lights look fine. I misunderstood. Went back and looked at your pictures.

I'm pushing off the vegetable starts until the end of the month.

Keep us informed.

Eric

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That's looking like a pretty good set-up. One thing I would recommend is that you remove the domes once the seedlings are up. If you do not, it can create too much humidity and the seedlings can get a fungus called "damping-off" which will kill them. They like air circulation once they have sprouted.
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The Mad Hatter
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garden5 wrote:That's looking like a pretty good set-up. One thing I would recommend is that you remove the domes once the seedlings are up. If you do not, it can create too much humidity and the seedlings can get a fungus called "damping-off" which will kill them. They like air circulation once they have sprouted.
This was one of my next questions as far as the seedlings coming. How far up is up? Are we talking half an inch, one inch? The way I understand it and my experiance fro last year is as soon as they break ground I should be able to move them out of the dome. Is this correct and also do they need to be on thevheat table?
I am thinking once they break the surface they get moved to a normal flat, no dome, no heat table, and two sets of 6500k lights.

Thanks for the compliments. I do appreciate it.

T.M.H.

wordwiz
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The Mad Hatter wrote: This was one of my next questions as far as the seedlings coming. How far up is up? Are we talking half an inch, one inch? The way I understand it and my experiance fro last year is as soon as they break ground I should be able to move them out of the dome. Is this correct and also do they need to be on thevheat table?
I am thinking once they break the surface they get moved to a normal flat, no dome, no heat table, and two sets of 6500k lights.
That's what I do.

Mike

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wordwiz wrote:
The Mad Hatter wrote: This was one of my next questions as far as the seedlings coming. How far up is up? Are we talking half an inch, one inch? The way I understand it and my experiance fro last year is as soon as they break ground I should be able to move them out of the dome. Is this correct and also do they need to be on thevheat table?
I am thinking once they break the surface they get moved to a normal flat, no dome, no heat table, and two sets of 6500k lights.
That's what I do.

Mike
Excellent. Thanks Mike.

The Mad Hatter
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Well, its been nearly 24 hours and no activity yet. Heheheh. Wshful thinkng I know. i figured that they may need some encouragement to come on up out of the soil so will be playing a bit fo Skynard for em. Cant go wrong with Skynard.

The heat table is chugging along very nicely though. Seems to be the same temprature today as it was yesterday although there are warm spots and spots that seem to lag a bit.

I did break out the thermometer and verfied that thought. The warmest jiffy pellet was 87 degrees, while the coolest was 78. So, I moved them around to maxamize the temps that I have and when this batch pops their little heads out I will pull the top off of the box and install the second heater. this should keep my temps more balenced.

T.M.H.

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We have two new additions to the family this morning. Sometime over night two little cabbage guys come popping up out of the jiffy pellets. It must have been the Skynard that I played again last night heheh.

I have to go into work this morning for a while. It will be neat to see if there are any followers to come along during the day. I will pull the two new guys out if Tue dome and place em on a flat on the other table so the are not in the moisture.

Have a great day everyone!

T.M.H.

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With heat like that, you should be seeing results in no time at all.

Oh, and to answer your question, you got it exactly right. Up is up and once they are up, you can take the training wheels off and just give them some light.
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What I can't believe is how addicting this little hobby is for me. Everyday I came home from work and check on the little guys. Have a bit of conversation with em and play a little music for em lol.

T.M.H.

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rainbowgardener
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Yes!!! Isn't it amazing seeing little baby plants pop up where there was only a tiny seed before? I love it.... it's why I grow so many, even though I don't have room to plant them all. It gets me through the winter blahs... in Jan in the dark and cold of winter, I am working with light and little green things and reminding myself that there will be a spring!
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Well, I got home today from work and another one had sprouted out of his little home. There are two more that are trying their best to make it out. Still no peppers coming yet, but I believe that the peppers take longer to germinate. At least that's what I remember from last year...

T.M.H.

wordwiz
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rainbowgardener wrote:Yes!!! Isn't it amazing seeing little baby plants pop up where there was only a tiny seed before? I love it.... it's why I grow so many, even though I don't have room to plant them all. It gets me through the winter blahs... in Jan in the dark and cold of winter, I am working with light and little green things and reminding myself that there will be a spring!
I know what you mean. Walking into a room full of little green plants, bright lights and heat makes me forget about the black snow, cold temps, gloomy days. We need to write to the American Psychiatric Association and tell them the best remedy for SADD is to start plants. A couple of shop grow lights, a few seeds, a couple quarts of potting mix - way cheaper and far more effective than any scrip the doc might write!

Mike

Dixana
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Just wondering.....is the heat necessary? I started all my plants without heat last year and everything still came up...
Should I have heat? Will things always come up without it or did I just get lucky last year because they were in our sunny bow window with the curtains closed (which kept them hidden from my son AND trapped a lot of warmth?)

Hatter I LOVE the setup! I'm also jealous... :wink:
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applestar
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Most seeds will germinate faster with heat -- cabbages in 2 days instead of -- for example, 5~7days, tomatoes in 3 days instead of 7~10 days, etc. Some reluctant peppers can take as much as 3 to 4 weeks without. In the uncertain indoor conditions, including overzealous watering by the doting gardener, the seeds can sometimes rot -- or get dried out at the critical time when they're just germinating -- before they can begin to grow.

Try taking a thermometer reading of your window under the same conditions (and around the same time of the year -- sun exposure, etc.). That'll tell you how warm your seeds were.

Remember, though, that not ALL seeds want the same temperature. I like referring to Johnny's catalog and website optimum germination info for individual vegs and some flowers. I think Territorial has good temp range info too. They go into details like ideal germination soil temp and ideal seedling growth air temp including daytime and night time temps AFTER they are taken off the heating mat. There are other seed catalogs that offer good instructions like that too. They're free (and *somebody* went to a lot of trouble to compile the information) so make good use of them. :wink:

When you plant the early spring seeds outside, you'll find out that it takes THEM as much as 2 weeks to germinate. Even though I *know* this, I get so used to the speedy indoor seeds dashing off the starting block, that I get worried and impatient by turns waiting for the direct-sown seeds to grow. :lol:
Last edited by applestar on Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

The Mad Hatter
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The main reason that I built the heat table is that my basement is cold. The air temorearure is between 58 and 64 on average. I have read that peppers for example like the soil to be around 78*.

Last year I started seeds when transplanst should have been going in. They did produce peppers, but it was late and spotty at best. I also had no grow lights. This produced tall plants that were skinny. I believe this to be because they were always reaching for the window where the sun came through in the mornings.

I also did it because I thought it would be a very cool project to tinker with in the winter time. It was super low cost and You can get it all off Craig's list.

I would say that in my own opinion that if you had results from last year that produced good strong plants than that is what I would do this year. As I said before, last year I never had a good place that I could set up and great results, let alone decent results. This year I am confident that I will have very strong and healthy plants.

T.M.H.

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Location: Cincinnati

Hatter,

There is a correlation among light levels, temps, soil (potting mix) moisture and nuits and how they affect seedlings. If you have low temps, and low light levels, water less frequently and do not add many nuits, especially N. The seedlings will grow in proportion. Google 'Jim Faust Daily Light Intensity Greenhouse Levels'. You should get several hits - most of them are well worth reading and saving.

Mike

The Mad Hatter
Senior Member
Posts: 165
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:49 pm
Location: Lincoln Nebraska

wordwiz wrote:Hatter,

There is a correlation among light levels, temps, soil (potting mix) moisture and nuits and how they affect seedlings. If you have low temps, and low light levels, water less frequently and do not add many nuits, especially N. The seedlings will grow in proportion. Google 'Jim Faust Daily Light Intensity Greenhouse Levels'. You should get several hits - most of them are well worth reading and saving.

Mike
Thanks Mike for the link information. I will have to Google that once I get home from work. This morning I have eleven total tiny little baby cabbage plants. Still no pepper plants though. Apparently the peppers are not a Skynard fan, so I will have to find them something else to listen to. To bad I do not have any "salsa" music lol.

Have a great day everyone! Its beginning to snow here.

T.M.H.

Dixana
Greener Thumb
Posts: 727
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:58 am
Location: zone 4

All this seedling talk is killing me!! It'll be a good month and half before I can/should start seeds. :( Usually I love winter and spend my free time snowmobiling, but this year the freak warm spell melted all the snow.
I can't even mess around cuz no one is selling seed starter or anything yet!!
*grumble grumble*
I guess I'll just keep perusing the seed catalogs and continue my search for worms while all you lucky ducks in the warmer climates start your babies!
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
-Gandhi

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Don't fret over the peppers. Given how well you have heated your tray, you should see results in under a week. By 2 weeks, you should have all of your seedlings up.

What kinds of peppers are you growing?
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