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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Feb 15, 2016 8:10 PM CST
I want to start my vegetable seeds inside, then transplant outside when the weather warms. My question is do I moisten the soil in my 72 cell seed starter units or just add the soil and then put the seeds in and mist them? The lady in the garden center at Walmart told me to just mist them after putting them in the soil. I bought the seed starter soil. Will this be good enough or should I amend it with other things like vermiculite and peat moss?
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Feb 15, 2016 8:30 PM CST
Seed starter soil is especially designed for seeds so no amending or adding is necessary. Seeds have their own little food supply that will last until its time to transplant them into your garden or something larger. If they do start to look a little peaked, use something mild like fish emulsion.

Add enough water to the soil to wet it - moist but not soggy. The soil will absorb water a lot better if its damp to begin with. Fill your cells and plant the seeds at the recmmended depth - that's usually two times the thickness of the seed.

The seeds will need more water but bottom water works best as you won't wash your seeds away or bury them too deep. Don't let your cells sit in water but don't let your potting soil dry out. Keep bottom watering when they need a drink. Disturbing their little roots will slow them down and may even kill sensitive plants.

Bottom heat helps in germination also. You can get mats especially for this purpose (our local hydroponics store sells them). Or forgo the mat and put the tray someplace with ambient heat. The top of your refrig. has the perfect tempurature.

Start your seeds about 8 weeks before you plan to plant them out. Then make sure you 'harden them off' before commiting them to the big bad world. You can do this by slowly moving them outside. Put them under a shady tree for a week. No matter how much light they get indoors, outdoors will be a shock.

Most of all, have fun.

Daisy
Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Feb 15, 2016 8:41 PM CST
Thank you so much Daisy for your great info. I will give it a try. I will post how things progress. I am anxious to get them started. Someone else told me about bottom watering instead of watering from the top.
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Feb 15, 2016 8:51 PM CST
I'm not sure how soon you can plant outside. I am in zone 6b and I will be putting my plants out at the end of May. You are in zone 5.

I will be planting my seeds April 1. Should you be planting now? Unless you want to plant gallon size plants, maybe not. The first year a moved to Reno, I planted my seeds March 1 (as I had always done in California). By the time I could plant them outside, they were 3 feet tall and had little tomatoes on them. Smiling

Daisy
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Feb 16, 2016 2:21 PM CST
Jeanne, I agree with Daisy about not planting too early... what are you planning to start? And when can you put tender things out in the garden? It looks like we're in a similar zone; I don't put tomatoes and peppers out until June 1st. I start my tomato seeds around April 15th and the peppers get started April 1st. Onions I do start considerably earlier and just planted a flat of those seeds today. Things like cukes and squash don't get started until about May 7th - they sprout and grow really quickly!

For what it's worth, I've had a lot better luck putting smaller plants outside than larger, overgrown ones. Smiling
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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Feb 16, 2016 3:52 PM CST
Thanks Daisy and Sandy, I was going by the ATP planting chart for my zip code. It said that I should start some things indoors Feb.13-17 like brussel sprouts, cabbage, egg plant, kale, kahlrabi, peppers, tomatoes, onions and so on and to transplant outside March 26-April 9 for some and April 23- May 7 for egg plant, peppers and tomatoes. That's why I was starting to get a little antsy. It states that my frost-free growing season typically starts April 23. But I am kind of busy this week and over the weekend so I think I will wait until next week to consider it further.
Thank You! for your advice. I appreciate it.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 16, 2016 3:58 PM CST
I agree with everything said above. Get the mix moist BEFORE pushing seeds in.

Here's my super-easy way to bottom-water. The other way I tried just clogged the drain in my bathtub, and still did not water the seedlings uniformly.
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...

"If you use propagation trays or "six-pack" inserts, make sure their bottoms rest on the mats to establish a capillary connection to the soil."

Thumb of 2013-10-18/RickCorey/42dd42 Thumb of 2013-10-18/RickCorey/6c9a92


It might be too late already, but most commercial seed-starting mix from big-box stores are either MUCH too fine and water-retaining, or else they assume that everyone REALLY knows how to avoid over-watering seedlings grown in mostly-peat. I never learned that.

Professional growing mixes like Pro-Mix and Fafards usually come in big, compressed bales, but are much better than the peat-dust-junk from HD.

I always add something gritty or with small chunks, to improve the aeration by improving the drainage. Grain size around 1/10 inch (2.5 mm) is ideal, with a little larger grains being better than grains that are much smaller.

Coarse Perlite is a good amendment for improving aeration/drainage, but expensive.

#2 chicken grit (crushed granite) is good but pricey unless you get a 50 pound bag from a warehouse. Crushed stone would be good, if they double-screened it to remove the sand and dust.

Sand, even "coarse sand" is too fine.

I love home-screened pine bark shreds. I mix them with any commercial potting mix to make a seed-starting mix that is hard to over-water. It also makes the mix much cheaper, since bark can be gotten very cheaply, even if you shop around for dry, clean bags. You do have to screen the bark. You can use the big chunks as mulch outdoors, and use the dusty fines in outdoor beds. Or grind up the big chunks and re-screen them.

If I mix equal parts of bark and Pro-Mix, the price of the Pro-Mix is effectively cut in half.

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 16, 2016 8:20 PM CST
Good advice, Rick; I tend to forget that I'm one of the apparently rare people who are more likely to underwater my seedlings!

Jeanne, just to give you some perspective about the planting calendar... for my zip code (49807) the calendar says that my frost-free planting season starts May 10th and to start tomatoes indoors around March 1st. Bwa-ha-ha-ha ! In my wildest dreams that would be true... (and even if I COULD put the plants out on May 10th, March 1st would still be a couple weeks too early, IMHO. As it is, my tomato plants are at least a foot tall, if not more, by the time they get outside (and that's with going from my indoor light setup to the greenhouse around the end of April or early in May, where they get better light and cooler temps).
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Jeanne
Lansing, Iowa (Zone 5a)
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gardenglassgems
Feb 16, 2016 8:54 PM CST
Thanks, Sandy and Rick for your help. I am going to wait and not get jumpy. I don't want to waist my time cause, as we know, gardeners are very busy people. I can't believe how much I have to do before the weather is favorable for planting. As soon as the weather warms and the slush is gone, I will be getting out there and getting my beds cleaned up. I have lots to do instead of planting seeds indoors right now.
Yard decor, repurposing, and flowers,
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2016 1:16 PM CST
My theory is that it's better to err on the side off caution. If the weather is ready before your seedlings are ready, all you lost was a few weeks, but the plants will go straight from your lights into optimum conditions.

If your seedlings are ready to transplant out before the weather is ready, you'll have root-bound, leggy, unhappy seedlings to plant out into weather barely warm enough to keep them growing.

Often a late transplant will catch up to and even pass an early transplant - especially if the early transplant caught even one late cold snap.

And for tomatoes, a night-time temperature much below 50 F could count as a "cold snap". I guess some people plant tomatoes out before nights stay above 50F, but I think they get sulky and slow their growth if they get many cool nights like that.

The "last frost date" isn't all that matters to some crops.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 17, 2016 5:28 PM CST
LOL -- if I had to wait until our nights were all above 50 degrees I'd never be able to grow tomatoes... that's why I wrap plastic around the cages so they have cozy little cocoons! Smiling The cold nights definitely slow everything down.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2016 6:43 PM CST
I only tried tomatoes one year. Two varieties survived, but 'Stupice' lost all it's flavor after a few cool nights. It went from "not too bad" to "does this taste more like stale dog food, or more like cardboard?"

Sungold (F1) held its flavor very well.

My plan for "after I retire" is to create low hoop tunnels for young plants and tall hoop tunnels for older plants. Then find out whether I can grow sweet red peppers as well as tomatoes.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 17, 2016 6:49 PM CST
That's interesting, Rick -- and maybe explains why I haven't been happy with tomato varieties that a lot of people rave about...
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 17, 2016 6:53 PM CST
I noticed it happen, then asked around and at least 1-2 people said they saw the same thing.

Others seem not to have this problem because they keep harvesting tomatoes right up to frost. Maybe where they live, the first frost occurs soon after nights go below 50 - I guess that would mean a warm summer and/or short fall.

My summer nights very often go below 60, and might dip down another 10 degrees whimsically early. Thumbs down
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 17, 2016 10:13 PM CST
Rick, that's what we refer to as "good sleeping weather." Big Grin
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
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woofie
Feb 18, 2016 10:02 AM CST
In my end of the world, we are having some really strange weather. Nearly all the snow has melted off, it's raining, and the temperatures are getting up to 50 deg. already. Normally, I'd have to wait until the first week of June to set plants out, but the last couple of years it's been mid-May and might be even earlier this year! So I have my pepper seeds sitting in little tubs of vermiculite and am getting trays ready to plant my tomato seeds. (Rick, have you tried the "Sweetie" cherry tomatoes? They grow fast, produce early and LOTS, and are really tasty!)
I tried the seed starting mix, but found it to be too fine, at least the brand I bought. The top of the soil would develop sort of a crust that made it more difficult for the smaller seedlings to break through. So now I just use regular potting soil. And I know everyone says to bottom water, but I also mist the top of the soil with a spray bottle to make sure the seeds don't dry out from the top.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 18, 2016 3:51 PM CST
>> Rick, that's what we refer to as "good sleeping weather."

Sandy, I agree. Even if the day DOES manage to get "hot" (anything above 75F), the nights are deliciously cool. Compared to CT, NY and NJ, summers in the coastal PNW are great. The the winters are paradisaical by comparison!

Woofie, I'll add "Sweetie" to the list of cherry tomatoes I want to try someday.

(And I also top-water seedlings occasionally, to be sure that the top layer stays moist, and any salts tend to flush downwards instead of accumulating. I figure that the cotton flannel I put under the trays will wick away excess water. P.S. Bark doesn't crust.)

Cherry Tomatoes I want to try:
Sweetie
Santa Cherry
Sub Arctic Cherry
Ildi
Early Cascade
Sweet Million (died on me the first time I tried a plant)
Gold Nugget
Golden Rave
Chocolate Cherry
Black Cherry
Black Pearl

Non-cherry varieties, early and/or cool:
Glacier
Manitoba
Matina
Oregon Spring
Sub Arctic Plenty
Northern Delight
'Beaverlodge' series

Others:
Jaune Flammee
Azoychka (mid-season lemon yellow)
Taxi



Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 18, 2016 9:38 PM CST
Rick, you made that sound WAY complicated! No one will ever try to grow anything from seed ever again! Crying

I buy ALL my pepper and tomato seed from Totally Tomatoes

http://www.totallytomato.com

and I use only Miracle Grow Seed Starting mix.

http://www.miraclegro.com/smg/goprod/miracle-gro-seed-starte...

I plant in 'six packs' in seed trays on a heat mat. My favorite place to shop for those items is Charley's Greenhouse and the local hydroponics shop (I pretend not to notice what they are really growing in their hydoponics system).

Bathtub? How does your wife feel about that? In my house, it would be what my husband thought. Smiling

Daisy
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 19, 2016 7:27 PM CST
DaisyI said:Rick, you made that sound WAY complicated! No one will ever try to grow anything from seed ever again! Crying

...

Bathtub? How does your wife feel about that? In my house, it would be what my husband thought. Smiling

Daisy


Sorry! I do tend to run off at the keyboard.

I tried to say "Get the mix moist BEFORE pushing seeds in. Cotton flannel under a seedling tray makes it easier to bottom-water, but I also top-water occasionally. Many commercial seed-starting mixes benefit from adding coarse things like Perlite, grit or bark."

>> Bathtub? How does your wife feel about that?

Well, we have separate bathtubs, so it was my problem. She might have laughed or shaken her head when I told her.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 19, 2016 8:16 PM CST
I like it! I will go tell Hubby to find his own bathtub. Why stop there? "Honey, go find your own bathroom... Please." Rolling on the floor laughing

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