Ask a Question forum: Seedling containers

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Name: Linda Richardson
Yellville, Arkansas (Zone 6b)
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GoBoldlyHomestead
Feb 13, 2015 10:41 AM CST
First time seeder here :)
I just can't bring myself to purchase the plastic seed-starter cells when I have about a zillion yogurt and applesauce plastic cups. I've poked holes in them for drainage and sit them in big foil pans for drainage.

Will these little cups (which are considerably larger than the seed cells) suffice from sprout time to transplant time? I'm using peat pots for half my seedlings, little plastic cups for the rest.
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Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very good together.

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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
Feb 13, 2015 11:17 AM CST
Welcome! GoBoldlyHomestead. I would think those cups are fine! Thumbs up
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Feb 13, 2015 11:32 AM CST
It will depend, of course, on what you're starting and how soon you can set them out. But they look fine for starting in, for sure.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Linda Richardson
Yellville, Arkansas (Zone 6b)
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GoBoldlyHomestead
Feb 13, 2015 11:34 AM CST
Awesome.

You guys rule :)
Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very good together.

- George Santayana
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!
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woofie
Feb 13, 2015 11:42 AM CST
Have you checked out the Garden Planting Calendar on this site? I don't know how accurate it will be for your area, but it's a place to start.
http://garden.org/apps/calendar/
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Linda Richardson
Yellville, Arkansas (Zone 6b)
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GoBoldlyHomestead
Feb 13, 2015 11:42 AM CST
I am carefully spacing out my planting indoors so that they will all be ready to set out around April 20, after hardening.

I will be starting tomatoes and peppers in the larger containers as I understand these need more space.

The smaller containers and also peat pots will be used for squash, zucchini, cabbage, and Romain lettuce.

I am also going to see a variety of flowers and plants, but I haven't got those sorted out yet and I am limited on indoor fluorescent shelf space.
Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very good together.

- George Santayana
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 13, 2015 11:46 AM CST
My experience of squash and zucchini is that they outgrow their containers very quickly!
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Feb 13, 2015 12:13 PM CST
Looks like you are off to a good start on a terribly fun and addicting part of gardening.
I think anything that will hold soil and lets light in can be used for seed starting and recycling what you have for containers is great.
You said you are limited by shelf space under lights , If you have an outdoor space you should check out winter sowing it is great for many plants and a lot less care is needed. You may be able to expand your variety greatly with not much effort.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Feb 13, 2015 12:25 PM CST
Welcome! Linda. And I thought I was the only one to save my yogurt cups! Whistling I don't know why people call be "cheap"? I'm just..........frugal. Sighing!
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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
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RickCorey
Feb 13, 2015 12:29 PM CST
Welcome to ATP and to seed starting, Linda! I think you'll enjoy both and get a lot of value from both.

I agree that almost anything with good drainage and not-too-much water retention can be used to start seedlings. I tend to overwater, so peat did not work for me at all. I needed to make a seedling mix that drained really well, so that excess water would run out the bottom, letting air back into the soilless mix.

You can make things drain faster by adding coarse material like coarse Perlite, grit, screened crushed rock or screened bark fines (not FINE fines, but small chunks and shreds).

Or, just don't overwater!

Have you decided whether to plant seeds so thinly that just a few plants emerge in each container, or start by broadcasting many seeds in a "flat" like one of the shallow plastic tubs, then "pricking out" the best ones when they have 1-2 pairs of true leaves and "up-potting" them into larger, individual tubs?
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 13, 2015 12:30 PM CST
"Cheap" is what wasteful people call smart people!

Name: Linda Richardson
Yellville, Arkansas (Zone 6b)
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GoBoldlyHomestead
Feb 13, 2015 12:41 PM CST
RickCorey said:Welcome to ATP and to seed starting, Linda! I think you'll enjoy both and get a lot of value from both.

Have you decided whether to plant seeds so thinly that just a few plants emerge in each container, or start by broadcasting many seeds in a "flat" like one of the shallow plastic tubs, then "pricking out" the best ones when they have 1-2 pairs of true leaves and "up-potting" them into larger, individual tubs?


Thank you! I'm so new to this, it has been a varied (and harried) learning experience!

So far I have just started with 5-6 seeds per container, pinching off the weakest sprouts. It hadn't even dawned on me to just spread out several in a large flat. I may try that!

VERY intimidated when it comes to transplanting (either in different containers or directly to garden). After viewing approx ten zillion YouTube demonstrations, you'd think I'd have a bit more confidence.

They just seem so fragile and delicate, and I have a long history of inadvertently murdering houseplants.

Yipe!

Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very good together.

- George Santayana
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 13, 2015 12:50 PM CST
When I use a substitute cup like yogurt containers, I always put a spoonful or so of straight Perlite in the bottom of the cup to help the holes not to plug up with the starter mix. Soggy soil will kill off your seedlings in a heartbeat, and that's very sad.

Also, I agree with woofie, put the squash and zucchini seeds in the larger containers. They get big fast!

You can (probably should) put out your Romaine lettuce and cabbage much sooner than April. They like cool weather, and lettuces bolt to seed if it gets too hot too fast. They can also develop a nasty bitter taste if the temperatures bounce from cool to hot a few times. Go for late March for the lettuce and cabbage, to take advantage of all the cool spring weather. Cabbage-y things can even take a light frost.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
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 13, 2015 1:08 PM CST
I like big holes better than layers of mismatched soil ingredients. Tapla convinced me that the best way to get water out of a pot is to have a uniform soilless mix that wicks, and is coarse enough that it doesn't just HOLD all the water it can.

And when I'm desperate to use drainage to overcome compulsive over-watering, I sit the trays on something absorbent like cotton flannel (or toweling or a Tee shirt).

As long as the soilless mix touches the flannel, capillary attraction pulls water out of the pot until the bottom layer of the soil is exactly as damp as the flannel. And no pot goes thirsty because the flannel shares water between over-watered pots and thirsty pots.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...

But, Linda, I should stress: I lean towards Rube Goldberg schemes! Probably all the hoops I jump through are unecessary aslong as you don't overwater.

P.S. I share your horror of damaging seedling roots when untangling. Flinch! But other seem to have no trouble ripping them out of the soil and flinging them into new pots. (Shudder)



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 13, 2015 2:10 PM CST
Now, Rick, SOME plants don't mind having their roots ruthlessly disturbed. Lettuce and petunias leap to mind, along with lobelia. And then there are those others. Cucumbers don't seem to really enjoy being jostled and I'm very careful with my Lavatera seedlings. And that's why we have that little box in the database to check off that says "can handle transplanting." Smiling
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Feb 13, 2015 2:39 PM CST
Hi Linda and welcome to ATP! I'm one of those "if it holds dirt it gets seeds and or plants". I'm using egg cartons for my winter sowing. Also if you have a Dollar Tree where you live, their Spring gardening stuff is just starting to show up .. you can get awesome small pots 5 - 10 for a dollar depending on the size.
"Don't judge your day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."

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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Feb 13, 2015 4:08 PM CST
Welcome to ATP, Linda!

My biggest problem when I first started out transplanting seedlings was compaction. Three-fold in my case; pressing the mix against the root mass, shaking too much to settle the mix, and over-watering from the top, especially right after I set the seedling in the new container. They'll take off much better and faster if you fill your new container with lightly pre-moistened mix, toss the seedling in, and then just drip a few drops of water between the old transplant clump of mix and the new. Then set the container(s) in a tub or dishpan with warm-ish water and let it soak for 5 or 10 minutes. Remove, allow to drain and you're done.

Let your babies' mix dry a bit between waterings. A slightly droopy transplant is okay for a day or three. (I used to panic at this point and proceeded to half-drown the poor things.) Drier mix yields bigger and better plants in the long run, while soggy, always-wet soil will produce weak ones. Smiling
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 13, 2015 10:05 PM CST
Welcome! GoBo,
You are a frugal and wise gardener. Thumbs up

At home we save any and all food containers. Recently mushrooms are being sold in cheerful blue plastic containers that make excellent starter flats. After poking some holes they are good to go. We also eat Luigi's Lemon Ice just because we like the empty containers so much. Whistling

For us the yogurt containers are quart sized and are good for the plants requiring more growing space. We also save the cottage cheese and sour cream containers. Daisy sour cream not only tastes the best but comes in the sturdiest containers.

Don't forget the available space on top of the refrigerator; always room for a few plants up near the kitchen light.
Good luck and takes lots of photos! Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
Feb 13, 2015 10:13 PM CST
drdawg said: Welcome! Linda. And I thought I was the only one to save my yogurt cups! Whistling I don't know why people call be "cheap"? I'm just..........frugal. Sighing!

You are not alone Ken. I mostly cut the bottoms off drink bottles, but I have save yogurt cups also.

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Name: Linda Richardson
Yellville, Arkansas (Zone 6b)
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GoBoldlyHomestead
Feb 14, 2015 6:50 AM CST
Mercy -
It feels as if I have stumbled upon the Holy Grail of Seedling Care in this thread! Big Grin Thank you so much for your responses! No shame in milking this for all it's worth, so:

Because I've read where it is so important to keep new sprouts as close to my artificial light source as possible to avoid *leggy* stalks, and because my starter cups are so short, I've had to get creative on stacking items (boxes, even my kid's Legos) underneath them to maintain that 1"-2" distance under lights, as I did not have the foresight to affix the fluorescents by a chain to the shelving, and used plastic cable-ties instead. Blinking Those sprouts that have already shot up heads and shoulders above the rest, and that are lanky and leggy early on - should I just take the scissors to their stalks now, putting them out of their misery, or is there a way to rehabilitate them, since they are so young (second leaves haven't even surfaced yet)? I've just now incorporated an oscillating fan to jumpstart their strength training.

Secondly:

To gain more space for more seedlings to grow, here's another conundrum.... My windowsills are sunny, but there is the factor of three rambunctious toddlers who would surely bull-in-a-china-shop their way to the plants, destroying the tender flora while using the soil as floor-paint. Crying The two high sills that are not in this danger zone are quite drafty. Would a makeshift, Saran-wrap mini cold frame be practical here?

There really should be some kind of warning label on seed packets cautioning how addictive this whole process is. I'm positive that when shopping for our little homestead a few months ago, had I known about my new obsession - we would have been scoping out properties with existing sun rooms or attached greenhouses.

I feel kinda like I'm overthinking the whole Grow Things operation sometimes. It just seems like your first year is bound to fail, and be chalked up to a learning experience. I would like to circumvent that whole stage, immerse myself in the science of it, and have a really epic, bountiful harvest on my first run.

Meanwhile, I guess I need to focus on more menial tasks, like poking large holes into my yogurt cups and lining the shelves with my husband's flannel shirts.

Thanks again, everyone!







Why shouldn't things be largely absurd, futile, and transitory? They are so, and we are so, and they and we go very good together.

- George Santayana

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