Seeds forum: Seed sowing 2014

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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 2, 2014 11:35 AM CST
Julia, capillary mat is just some type of fabric under the flat (with holes in flat) that drapes over into a well of water. The fabric absorbs the water and the plants have water available to the roots. Check this out, but you can make your own:

http://www.gardeners.com/APS-P...

When my DH was in charge he thought the plants looked wet enough, he didn't touch the soil so mine dried out instead of drowning!

Edited to correct spelling
[Last edited by abhege - Feb 2, 2014 11:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Julia
Washington State (Zone 7a)
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springcolor
Feb 2, 2014 11:40 AM CST
Oh wow, that's neat! You should be just fine. Nice of him to try.
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Feb 2, 2014 2:08 PM CST
When I need to leave plants for a length of time:
I water them well, and then place basins of water on the bottom shelf.
Sometimes I move all the plants to the bathroom and leave a basin of water near the plants.
Keeping up the humidity will keep the plants from drying out while you are gone.
I did this when I had a green house too.
Name: Evelyn
Northern CA Sierra foothills - (Zone 8a)
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evelyninthegarden
Feb 2, 2014 2:48 PM CST
I put them all in the bathtub and put a little water in there, but not much. Then closed the shower curtain. Everything survived!
The more one gardens, the more one learns; and the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows.
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Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 2, 2014 6:04 PM CST
Oh Caroline, that is a great idea. I'm really only going to be gone four days but they are tiny seedlings. Most are in self watering starters but the plug trays of lettuce are not. I think I'll put in the GH where it will be a bit cooler and basins of water nearby.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Feb 3, 2014 9:07 AM CST
To clarify, Astrantia seed germinates in the cold (around 40F), not warm. If you see them sprout at 55-70F, it's because the seed germinated in the 40F range, and emerged at warmer temps. Jonna is right that they still need the initial warm period, but you must be sure there is ample time in the 40F range (not below freezing) to allow for the process before temps go above, say, 55F.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 3, 2014 11:02 AM CST
Okay, so keep them inside for four weeks and then around 40F in order to break germination?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Feb 3, 2014 11:42 AM CST
Arlene said:
>> I replanted some lettuce seeds today because the seed is old and didn't germinate. Most of it is coming up really well. I have three plug trays of 288.

You inspired me to pick up some plug trays with smaller cells than I've ever used before - 200 square cells with 1" tops, 2" deep. That's a 10x20 array of cells.

If I learn to plant out from them before seedlings get root-bound, maybe some day I'll try a 12x24 tray with 288 cells!

How many days after emergence can you leave a lettuce seedling in a cell that small, before it's root bound? 3/4" square?
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 3, 2014 12:12 PM CST
Rick, it is hard to not let them get rootbound, especially since lettuce quickly forms long, fine roots. Most people just cut the plugs out but me, being the frugal (cheap) person I am, will use a pencil or dowel to push them out. Sometimes I pot up into paper pots which makes planting in the rows much faster but when you have so many it is quite a task.

I am thinking shortly after we return from our trip I'll have to do one or the other.

I have a few othe plug trays that are larger but I can't remember exactly how many per right now.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Feb 3, 2014 12:43 PM CST
>> Most people just cut the plugs out

Horror!

>> but me, being the frugal (cheap) person I am, will use a pencil or dowel to push them out.

Absolutely. I even re-use the flimsy 6-pack inserts (72 per tray) until they fall apart (which seems to be caused by sunlight more than physical abuse. I hope that the sturdier plug trays / propagation trays last as long as I do!

I do cut my plug trays up into more convenient sizes, like my 200-tray is now five "segments" of 4x10 cells each. I don't start very many of most varieties, and the "segments" make labeling easier.

I cut a 7x14 tray (98 square cells) into 4 segments: 4 rows, 4 rows, 3 rows and 3 rows. So each segment has 21 or 28 cells.

When I'm pushing them out with a dowel, it's easier to work with 40 cells, or 28, or 21, than to work with 200.

I cut one of the 4x10 segments in half (4x5) and that may be easiest of all to transplant out from.

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 3, 2014 1:30 PM CST
That's really a good idea, cutting the plug trays into segments. Not so much for labeling because I just use a paint pen and mark every row after I mark the tray number. When I plant I write the tray number and row number on a sheet to keep track. Labels kept flipping out!

I think it would be easier watering too. I hate the way the trays don't fit in the bottom of the regular flats. I need to get some shallow flats. Right now I have some commercial cookie sheets I can use.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
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RickCorey
Feb 3, 2014 4:12 PM CST
I trim the edges or rim off each prop tray that I use. I have to, to make my "cotton flannel pad" method of bottom-watering work.

Plug trays seem rigid enough not to need the rims (especially once cut into slices or blocks).

They are also rigid enough that they don't cut easily. I have a pair of scissors with thin, long blades, which I sharpen as needed.

I can cut plug trays with those by pushing the scissor-tips 1-2 cells ahead of the cutting point, and only cutting about one cell-width before sliding the scissors forward. The cells ahead of the cutting point keep the scissors "lined up". Otherwise I would cut down into the sides of cells and mess them up.

I've tried to cut plug trays with various knives, unsuccessfully. Probably the "blade' attachment on my wood-burning tool would work, but the scissors go pretty fast and do a clean job as long as I "take small bites".

Tin snips would work even better, but mine are too thick to fit between cells.

Bad rims on a flimsy 1206 six-pack insert
Thumb of 2014-02-03/RickCorey/5b9beb

OK rims - cut off of a flimsy 1206 six-pack insert.
Note that the cut slits press down ON the flannel so that soil can touch the cotton fuzz and make a capillary connection.
Thumb of 2014-02-03/RickCorey/bb0d97


4" pots, one 1206 six-pack insert and two rows of an 8x16 plug tray of 128 cells .
The six-pack should have been trimmed closer.
Thumb of 2014-02-03/RickCorey/4452b8
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
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Gymgirl
Feb 3, 2014 4:49 PM CST
NIce work, Rick!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
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RickCorey
Feb 3, 2014 4:53 PM CST
Thanks, Linda!

I do love to fiddle, and that was one project that actually seems practically useful to me, not just a Rube Goldberg scheme that I like because it's gadgetty.

Someday, if I ever learn NOT to overwater seedlings, I might not need it as much as I do now.
Name: Allison
NJ (Zone 6a)
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Onewish1
Feb 3, 2014 5:15 PM CST

Moderator

very nice!
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Feb 3, 2014 8:15 PM CST
Regarding astrantia seed:
abhege said:Okay, so keep them inside for four weeks and then around 40F in order to break germination?


Yes, but I don't know if the 40F range would immediately trigger germination or not. My guess is not, since Jonna says 8 weeks cold. Presumably the seed will go through a time of conditioning or readying itself for germination. Sometimes the recommended length of cold is derived from the winter period with temps that may start at 40ish, then go way below freezing, then back up to 40ish. Unless it is specified, we never really know for sure.

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Feb 3, 2014 8:18 PM CST
Well, I'll keep them inside for Feb. then put them outside in March. We should still have some cold nights anyway in March. And who knows with the way this year has been. The best I can do is try! Thanks for the advice! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 4, 2014 7:02 AM CST

Moderator

The bottom watering with capillary mat works great with open bottom cells. Works really well. The APS system that Arlene linked above has open bottom cells. I like those a lot, but the cells are made of styrofoam so they do break. Shrug! I also have some other really nice open bottom ones from Gardener's Supply which I love. Here it is last year with echinacea seedlings, you can see the capillary mat under the cells
Thumb of 2014-02-04/kqcrna/b3669c

Here's the thing about those "hard to sprout" seeds. Any of them, including the sweet shrub being discussed in another thread. You read all you can find about what might help sprout the seed, like nicking or soaking. You prepare to give them specific conditions like warm-cold-warm temps. Then the stupid seeds sprout a few days and make a fool of you Rolling on the floor laughing

I swear, after having seen cordydalis lutea, I wanted to try some, even though they didn't sound well suited to my climate. I bought 3 through mail order, and as soon as we hit 100° they all croaked. Last winter, I tried wintersowing corydalis sempervirens, only one sprouted. It survived and grew and I saved a few precious seeds. Germination info from Clothier says
"Corydalis racemosa, and sempervirens , Sow at 20ºC (68ºF), germination slow Short viable. Germinates in 4-8 weeks " So I started early, in mid December, prepared to possibly put them outside for some cold treatment if necessary. The seeds sprouted in a few days and I now have 9 cells which are over an inch tall already. I'll surely kill them before they get out of the house.

Karen


Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
"Godspeed, & Good Harvest!"
Region: Texas Vegetable Grower Seed Starter Garden Ideas: Master Level Canning and food preservation Gardens in Buckets
Tip Photographer Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ferns
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Gymgirl
Feb 4, 2014 10:32 AM CST
That's a pretty picture. I love the APS system from Gardener's Supply, too. I agree Great for those big 'ole broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, LOL! nodding

Glad to know I finally figured out the right side of the capillary mat! Hurray! It took me a minute, though...
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Feb 4, 2014 11:45 AM CST
I have some of those capillary mats from a kit I bought with a one piece foam that has about 330 places to plant seeds. I may ditch the foam things and just use the capillary mats like Rick does and use regular plastic pots, 6-paks, whatever. I have winter sown y poppy seeds and they are outside. This is the third year trying. I have always panicked and brought them inside around April for fear they won't germinate then fight til May to keep them sturdy and alive to plant out. This year they darned well better germinate and grow outside or I just won't have any poppies. I broad cast some in fall and some in spring but then use Preen to keep down weeds so there goes the poppy seeds. Have to remember where I put seeds and not preen them. I have never used the plug trays. I don't have a lot of space, just three raised beds 4x8 that I use the SFG method with. Then I plant the bigger stuff like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, dill, etc where ever I can stash it. I have a big slug problem so I bought those dreadfully expensive copper wire things for the larger plants and my dahlias. Also will try (again) chicken grit around the base of the plants. Much cheaper if it works.

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