impisces71
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Location: Kingston, TN 37763 (Zone 7)

Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

I'm in Tennessee Zone 7 and I'm about to be starting an indoor container garden of both herbs and vegetables, preferably from seeds or cuttings if seeds ain't an option. Can I start all my herbs and vegetables this month since they will all be being started and continually grown in indoor containers in a controllable environment and not to be transplanted outdoors?

applestar told me to start a new thread listing all my herb and vegetable seeds so I can start my new journey as a beginner gardener here.
Here are my lists:
HERB SEEDS HAVE
Basil, Genovese
Basil, Sweet
Chives
Cilantro
Dill
Parsley
Thyme
VEGETABLE SEEDS HAVE
Cauliflower, Snowball x
Lettuce, Green Salad Bowl
Onion, White Lisbon Bunching
Pepper, Banana
Pepper, California Wonder (Bell)
Pepper, Grand Bell Mix
Pepper, Jalapeno (Red)
FLOWER SEEDS HAVE
Forget Me Not (Heirloom Variety)

HERBS SEEDS WANT
Basil, Cinnamon
Basil, Lemon
Basil, Lettuce Leaf
Basil, Thai
Bay Leaf
Chives, Garlic
Fennel
Lemon Balm
Mint
Oregano
Rosemary Upright
Sage
VEGETABLES SEEDS WANT
Broccoli
Lettuce, Leaf
Onion, Vidalia
Tomatoes
Turnip greens

I have a corner room with windows facing East and South. I have 2 planting mediums "Peat Pellets" and "Miracle Gro Seed Starter Soil Mix" and will be using filtered water.
Any help or advice would be great

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

That's a lot of seeds! Have you started things from seed before? Have you checked out the Seed Starting Basics thread at the top of this section?

If you are serious about starting all those seeds and then growing them indoors (and especially if you want things like peppers to fruit indoors), you will need a bit of basic equipment, mainly lights and heat mat(s). Most of the things on your HAVE list, need warm soil to germinate, so you need the heat mats under the trays. I start hundreds of plants from seed every year and I run two heat mats - once the plants are well started, they can come off the heat mats and the space used for something else.

Lights should be fluorescent tubes, which don't need to be fancy grow lights just shop lights. But I think you will not get good results trying to just use window light (you might want to also look for our winter indoor tomatoes and winter indoor peppers threads). For best results use one warm toned bulb and one cool toned bulb in a 2-tube fixture.

It helps to have all your containers in trays, so you can water from the bottom (less messy too!).

The Miracle Gro seed starting mix even though it is made by Miracle Gro, probably has little to no fertilizer in it. That is ok for sprouting seeds, since the seed provides the initial food. But it means by the time your little plants have true leaves, you will need to be fertilizing them regularly or move them into containers with regular potting soil that does have added nutrients. I don't love the peat pots / pellets; I think it is hard to maintain the right soil moisture, they tend to be too wet or too dry. And they don't work well with bottom watering, soak up too much and get moldy. But that's a personal opinion and some people use the peat pellets just fine.

Read your seed packets carefully, re what soil temps the different seeds need and germination times etc. The parsley for e.g. can take up to a month to germinate.

You are right that if the plants aren't going outside, it doesn't matter as much when you start them. But just looking at your have list, by the time those are big plants, you will need a lot of room and a lot of lights. And it will be a little difficult to provide the conditions these different plants need. The cauliflower, lettuce, cilantro especially are cool weather crops. They prefer temps in the 60's and are done if the temps get to 80. The basil, peppers, thyme especially are warm weather crops. They need temps over 70 and love 80 degrees. Maybe you can keep everything at 70 degrees and it will all survive, but it won't be ideal for any of it.

If you have never done this, I would start a bit small and see how it goes. Once you get the hang of it, the process of planting a tiny seed and ending up with a big beautiful plant is amazingly joyful :) and you can keep adding to your set up. Best wishes and keep us posted how it is all working for you. Feel free to ask questions as you go along!
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impisces71
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Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:19 pm
Location: Kingston, TN 37763 (Zone 7)

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Thanks for the quick reply rbg and no I've not started things from seed before. And I have checked out the Seed Starting Basics For Newbies thread.
We own an electric heating pad that I've read can be used for a heat mat but I think it has a safety feature of shutting off after so many hours to keep from burning you. I'm on a fixed income and live with my parents and just know they would not let me keep a heating pad on 24/7 for utility bill and fire hazard reasons and don't see them letting me carry in shop or grow lights even if I could afford them.
So maybe all this was doomed from the start. I used to cook quite a bit about 11-14 years ago and wanted to start back and use fresh home grown ingredients when I started back but maybe I'll not get to.
Hey rbg you said and I quote "If you have never done this, I would start a bit small and see how it goes." from my list of seeds I have any ideas what you might start with to start small?

Thanks again for the reply

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applestar
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Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Looks like this was a good idea :wink:
Starting small and easy is the way to go. You don't want to set yourself to fail and be discouraged.

Start monitoring the temperature in the area you are planning to use. If you have those sunny windows, you may be able to use the solar heat. But I have found that a dedicated light is critical for the first couple of weeks of seed growth to keep them from getting spindly. Did you see the picture of clamp on utility light I use in one of the other threads? Those are less than $10 at auto or farm supply (sold as chicken brooder lamp). If you can get the 10" one it will be enough to supply light for four 4" pots which can be used as community seed starter pots.

Or you can use aquarium light 15-18" fluorescent tubes. You should be able to get them used on Craigslist or free cycle. Most hobbyists are upgrading to t-5 (1/2" diameter high intensity tube) fixtures so older t-8's should be easy to find. You might end up getting a full aquarium system this way, but don't think to use the aquarium as a container -- there are various reasons for not. It's not hard to rig something to hand those lights under a shelf.

In both cases, the expense will be for new light bulbs.

Out of the seeds you have, I think the ones I highlighted would be good starters. Basil will want to be warm in the 70's don't try if the area is going to be constantly in the 60's or get down in the 50's near the window.
HERB SEEDS HAVE
Basil, Genovese
Basil, Sweet

Chives
Cilantro
Dill
Parsley
Thyme


VEGETABLE SEEDS HAVE
Cauliflower, Snowball x
Lettuce, Green Salad Bowl
Onion, White Lisbon Bunching

Pepper, Banana
Pepper, California Wonder (Bell)
Pepper, Grand Bell Mix
Pepper, Jalapeno (Red)

FLOWER SEEDS HAVE
Forget Me Not (Heirloom Variety)
Out of the herbs and vegs you want, there are a few I can recommend that you try growing. 8)
If you know someone who has them, mint, lemon balm, and oregano can be easily rooted from fresh sprigs. Mint and oregano should be available at the grocery store. You can also try rooting basil and thyme from the grocery store.

For scallions/onion greens, cut the bottom of an onion in a generous pyramid shape, including all of the hard root area, then cut off the point. Snuggle the bottom of that in potting mix so just the top surface is showing above the soil. In no time at all, you'll have greens growing that you can snip off to use for cooking. You can do this with garlic and shallots too. They will need to be close to the window (directly on the windowsill) so they stay cool.

This is probably enough to get started with. (BTW you might want to go with Swiss Chard instead of lettuce. Lettuce is really whimsy when grown inside unless you use oscillating fan. Also do you have a cat? My cats eat the lettuce if I try to grow them anywhere that they can get to.

Why don't you plan on starting the cauliflower and broccoli in January, and peppers and then maybe tomatoes in February? Then they will be ready to plant outside in March and late April or early May at proper planting time. You could try growing them in containers if you don't have anywhere to plant in the ground.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

impisces71
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Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:19 pm
Location: Kingston, TN 37763 (Zone 7)

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Sorry everyone for such a delayed response but we've had a lot going on here recently. Hey applestar you you mentioned you'd start with the highlighted items from my have list. There are 2 colors of highlights yellow and blue, which color means what?
Sorry if that sounds like a newbi question lol but like I said I'm new at pretty much all of this stuff.

P.S. kind of off topic but some cuttings I put in filtered water in the kitchen windowsill a week ago today on the 14th have roots on my Lemon Balm and a couple Mints. :)

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Sorry if I wasn't clear. Basils highlighted in yellow need warm conditions, so if your growing area stays or gets cooler than mid-60's I think it wouldn't be a good idea. Blue highlighted ones are cool weather plants and will do very well even in 60's or below.

I mentioned this because in my house, upstairs bedrooms can get to be around 70°F but downstairs and particularly some rooms and at floor level lower thermal layers can get as cold as 50's depending on time of day (actually night time when thermostat is turned down) and severe winter conditions.

It's a good idea to take max/min temp readings around the house and do some detective work around your domicile for suitable growing conditions. Different kinds of plants have different light, temp, and humidity needs.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

impisces71
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Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 12:19 pm
Location: Kingston, TN 37763 (Zone 7)

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Hey applestar thanks for helping me better understand the highlights on my items and which items to try planting at what temps and about researching my house for the best temp areas for different plants.

Juliuskitty
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Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

Hi Applestar, happy Thanksgiving. :D
I know quite a bit about tomatoes, and pretty much that is it. Thanks for posting about starting onions, cauliflower and broccoli, I learned a lot from this thread. 8)
My definition of insanity; trying to grow heirloom tomatoes in South Florida!

Susan W
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Location: Memphis, TN

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

I hate to be the one to throw the wet blanket on a growing idea, but this one is testing the limits! Turning a room into a growing room is difficult and expensive, and results marginal. Also now we have the shortest days, and with that lots of cloud cover so not much good natural light.

Do you have access to outdoor space? That will be your key. Then you can try some starts from seed Jan-March, put out as frost danger over (end of April?), and if those aren't doing well buy some starts.

I suggest trying your hand at outdoor growing this next season. By August or so, get some small pots of herbs going that can be brought in.
Have fun!
Susan

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Starting seeds in Indoor Container Garden, Zone 7

I'm assuming OP is talking about making a dedicated grow room because s/he doesn't have outdoor space. If there is outdoor space, clearly that would be preferable. I noted awhile back that to do the indoor grow room will require heat mats and lighting. But if pisces is willing to invest in having adequate heat and lighting, I think the grow room is quite doable. We have threads going on now, where people are growing tomatoes, peppers, and even eggplant indoors over winter and getting fruit.

But it is something that takes some experience and knowing what you are doing, which is why we have been suggesting pisces start small at first.
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