Ask a Question forum: Zone 8 planting (W. Washington)

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Name: Kimbrie Sauvageau
Lakewood WA (Zone 8a)
Misadventures of a virgin garderner
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punk_rock_garderner
May 9, 2017 12:48 AM CST
I am new to gardening. I am having some trouble with the weather and planting. I am hardening off my seedlings to be planted outside starting today (5/8). I must have put them out too early as the cucumber starts did not fair well. I had them out there for about 2 hours.

Will putting them out later in the day help? Do I need to wait longer to even take them out there at all? According to me research, this is an appropriate time to start getting them ready. But we have had colder temps longer this year. As this is my first year I have no basis for comparison.
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 9, 2017 7:25 AM CST
No true leaves and leggy. Not enough lite. You need a grow lite.
But. Being its time to plant. Direct seed in garden. Next year if no grow lite. Put them outside, in sun, during day and bring them inside at nite.
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 9, 2017 1:47 PM CST
Your vegetable plants won't survive outside until the temperatures are warm enough. For tomatoes, that's about 50 degrees. For cucumbers and squash, that about 70 degrees.

You might want to invest in some hotcaps for water walls.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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[Last edited by DaisyI - May 9, 2017 1:48 PM (+)]
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Name: Kimbrie Sauvageau
Lakewood WA (Zone 8a)
Misadventures of a virgin garderner
Cat Lover
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punk_rock_garderner
May 10, 2017 8:25 AM CST
Thank you for feedback, I am not sure what hotcaps or waterwalls are lol
check out my blog about my trials and successes of learning to garden https://punkrockgarderner.blog...
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
May 10, 2017 8:41 AM CST
They're like little tents or protective plastic setups for increasing the warmth around your plants after you set them out into the garden. You'll find them at your local garden center. The water walls are a brand name, I think it was "Wall-O-Water" when I last saw them.

Considering the very cold, wet weather you've had this spring so far, I think you might want to wait another week or two before sending any more plants outside. Not only the air, but the ground needs to warm up before they're going to be happy. Set them out only when it's really warm, not in the direct sun unless it's early morning or late aftenoon (weaker sun) and be sure to whisk them back in before it cools off in the evening.

Your cucumbers should wait until they have some real leaves - the little round ones that are the first two coming out of the seed are called cotyledons or "seed leaves" and they don't look like the real cucumber leaves, which will be shaped more like a maple leaf. As Daisy said, they like it really warm!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 10, 2017 10:53 AM CST
My grandmother, (who claimed American Indian heritage because she was born on an Indian reservation and had an Indian wet nurse), always claimed that you shouldn't plant until you could lie on the soil "necked as the day you were born". Smiling

I personally don't do that (and I never saw her do it either) but I do feel the soil with my hand. If its warm, I plant.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Kimbrie Sauvageau
Lakewood WA (Zone 8a)
Misadventures of a virgin garderner
Cat Lover
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punk_rock_garderner
May 10, 2017 9:09 PM CST
Question...some are saying not to plant my seedlings for 2 or 3 more weeks, so is it ok to direct sow (or try) now or would I also wait the same amount of time for sowing? Want to try to direct sow while I figure out my indoor propagation system figured out...thanks
check out my blog about my trials and successes of learning to garden https://punkrockgarderner.blog...
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 10, 2017 10:46 PM CST
For some vegetables, a head start is a good thing, ie: tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Start those inside 4 to 6 weeks before your last frost. Plan to plant them out into your vegetable garden when your temperatures stay above about 50 degrees.

Some vegetables are best direct sowed: carrots, beets, onions, beans, peas...

Some vegetables (cucumbers, squash, melons) you can start indoors early BUT do not plant them outdoors until the temperatures stay above 70 degrees.

I always start my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants the first week of April. I start my cucumbers, etc. the last week of April. I expect to plant my tomatoes, peppers and eggplants out next week (after May 15). I expect to plant my cucumbers, etc, out on June 1.

I am hardening off my tomatoes this week. They are between 1 and 2 ft. tall. The bigger your plants when you plant them into your garden, the better their chances. My peppers I will harden off after our next storm (this weekend) so they won't be ready to plant out for a couple weeks. The eggplants will go with the peppers.

I will use 'wall o water' or hotcaps on everything until the plants get too big.

You are rushing this whole process. It will not gain you any time and in fact, you may be setting your plants back.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
May 11, 2017 7:10 AM CST
I agree Don't try to rush if it's still getting cold between little flashes of warm weather. The issue isn't just the air temperature, but how cold the soil is.

With that terrible weather you've had (my family is in BC) the ground is probably still pretty cold. So yes, you can direct sow the things that don't mind cold like salad greens, peas, carrots and anything related to cabbage, like broccoli, kohlrabi etc. But wait on the things that want warmth like beans, tomatoes and peppers.

Yes, your season up there in the Pac. NW can be short, so it's also best to choose varieties that mature and give fruit quickly - look on the seed packet of your tomatoes for example. It will tell you "Days to Harvsest" and you want a variety that is less than 60 days. This way even if you can't plant out your transplants until June 1st you'll hopefully be starting to get a harvest by the end of July.

If your indoor system still has problems after you correct the soil and the lighting, you can always just buy some transplants. Go to a real nursery, though, don't buy from Wal-Mart or Home Depot. The box stores don't necessarily have good varieties for your climate, they just sell whatever they are supplied with. A nursery will usually have healthier plants, too.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
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
Photo Contest Winner: 2014 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.
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RickCorey
May 11, 2017 3:59 PM CST
Hi Kimbrie.

Congratulations on charging right into gardening full-bore! Did you say somewhere that you're an over-achiever? With gardening, "patience" as as critical a virtue as "persistence".

Personally, I tried to sneak up on gardening gradually. Started with easy things and did not push into cold weather in spring OR fall. My few perennials are very hardy for our zone. Since I was only growing in settled weather, I could direct sow most seeds outside (except that spring snow peas and snap peas NEED to be started early, so my soil was SO wet that early, that most rotted).

Starting seeds indoors is challenging for many of us, including me. It becomes really easy once you have a set of habits that happen to avoid the most serious problems.

I think I went around three years with MOST seeds rotting in the trays, never even emerging, or falling right over from "damping off" (soil-born fungi that kill seedling stems right at ground level). Part of that might have been using a very old bag of mix that had become dirty over the years (not sterile enough).

If damping off becomes a problem for you ...

FIRST, don't over-water seedling trays. I found that particular discipline impossible to master, so I have work-arounds.

Fight dampening-off with air movement, near-sterile seed-starting soilless mix, and a frequently-dry soil mix surface, which I encourage with a layer of bark chunks. Many people encourage a dry surface with a thin layer on top of gravel or grit.

You can keep your soil surface drier by bottom-watering.
( https://garden.org/ideas/view/... or other ways )

Others fight damping-off by sprinkling cinnamon powder or watering with strong, cool chamomile tea or weak hydrogen peroxide (add 1 ounce of 3% drugstore peroxide to a quart of water).


I'm guessing that, for you, "not enough lights" is like "over-watering" for me. Without strong, cool light, seeds always turn into those spaghetti-stem seedlings you showed. Been there, done that, they all died!

Now I like "shop lights": four-foot, two-tube fluorescent fittings made from sheet metal and including a reflector made of white-painted sheet metal. Those are what people mean when they say "keep the tubes within a few inches of the seedlings".

You may find them cheap at a Habitat For Humanity "restore". I've never seen them at Goodwill. I think that stores COULD sell them for $15-20, but not where I (we) live!

This decade, "T-8" tubes and fixtures are the cheapest to buy. "T-5" tubes and fixtures are more expensive, and either more efficient than T-8s, or much more intense per tube. There are "High-Output" T-5-HO tubes, which I think need the higher-powered T-5-HO fixtures, since the ballasts need to have enough power to drive the High Output tubes without over-heating or wearing out quickly.

The old T-12 fixtures should be given away free, they are so low-powered and inefficient.
A two-tube T-5-HO fixture is probably so intense that it does NOT need to be within two inches of the seedling foliage.

You can always tell what kind of tube it is:
T-5 tubes are 5/8" in diameter
T-8 tubes are 8/8ths" in diameter (1")
T-12 tubes are 12/8" in diameter (1.5")

No question - LEDs make more efficient use of electricity and have no Mercury vapor in them. Last time I checked, they were still hugely expensive, or came from China and burned out in less than two years, or both. YMMV.

Once you have a stronger light setup, there may be other pitfalls. Indeed, fast-draining, airy mix is vital to me (but some people manage to find ways to succeed without being super-fussy about that).

Starting too soon and getting fatally root-bound in their trays..
Starting too soon and setting them out too soon (or hardening them off too fast).

Starting so many seeds that thinning (killing) 75% of them is traumatic to the gardener. You can fight that one by giving away extra seedlings in some disposable container like plastic Solo cups. Let's say that you started 72 seedlings in a 10"x24" 1020 tray. Fine, they fit in 1.7 square feet.

Now you have to pot them up into 3" pots or 4" pots, to hold them until the soil warms up enough. That takes 72 pots and 4.5 or 8 square feet. You need 2.6 or 4.7 TIMES as much lighted space for small pots as you needed for seedling trays. So you either have to shelter some under plastic outside or give away or throw away up to 64% of your seedlings.

(Some say that, in theory, a gardener could simply start fewer seeds!! . Yeah, right, like that ever happened! It's more common to set up low hoop tunnels or greenhouses so that the ever-increasing obsession with starting more and more seeds can be indulged!)


I "believe in" using good-quality professional mix (like Fafard, Pro-Mix or Sunshine. I'm cheap, but that is necessary. I make it go farther by adding up to 50% screened bark, most of it a little larger than "grit".

Around Seattle, you can ALWAYS find big bales of that good stuff in shops calling themselves "Indoor Hydroponic" shops. And if they wink at you when you say "for starting vegetable seedlings, Oh, Well!

Because I'm a compulsive over-waterer, I'm paranoid about drainage and aeration. I add granite grit (#2 chicken grit) and/or re-screened pine bark chips & shreds around 1/10 - 1/8 inch, to increase the aeration of even pro-quality "high-porosity mix". (This idea came from Al / Tapla, who posts on many garden websites.


If you break up the rootballs of some of your dead seedlings, you may see only a few, small, threadlike roots. As an over-waterer, I always assume that was caused by excessive water in the mix driving the air out of too many crevices and pores or "voids" in the mix.

When those air channels fill with water, oxygen can't diffuse through your soil fast enough to keep the roots alive (roots breath, too!). Gasses diffuse through other gasses literally 10,000 faster than they diffuse through water.

Insufficient oxygen -> root hairs and roots suffocate and die, then rot. Plant wilts and dies.

Most people have no problem that way because they use a fairly-fast-draining mix, and they are smart enough to NOT over-water.

https://garden.org/thread/view... :
>> Once they are air-filled instead of water-filled, gas exchange will speed up 10,000-fold and the roots will be that much happier. {**}

{**} "Typically, a compound's diffusion coefficient is ~10,000ร— as great in air as in water."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

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