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Seed Starting FAQ

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Seed Starting FAQ

Post  camprn on Mon 30 Jan - 17:14

Answer to common questions about starting seeds from Gardener's Supply <~~~Click

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  EatYourVeggies on Mon 30 Jan - 19:30

Now who would have ever thought, Camprn would have a handy link and share it with the masses? Razz Thanks much...great information.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  camprn on Mon 30 Jan - 19:35

Embarassed It's good, eh? Wink

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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  moswell on Mon 30 Jan - 19:47

Oh this is awesome, thanks. Smile
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  Furbalsmom on Mon 30 Jan - 21:46

Great Link, Camprn.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  Noie on Mon 30 Jan - 23:29

That was really helpful. Thanks!

And if you happen to run across a Growing Seeds for Dummies book...let me know. Rolling Eyes
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  Red-Leg on Tue 31 Jan - 13:59

Nice article. I have a question that's not covered in that FAQ link. This will be my first year indoor seeding and I have the trays, lights, timer, fan, and heat mat all ready to go. My intention is to tie both lights, the fan, and heating mat into the timer so the plants have a true rest when the lights are not on. However, I've heard differing opinions regarding whether to keep the heat going once the seeds have germinated. What say ye?

Thanks!
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  littlesapphire on Tue 31 Jan - 16:44

Last year, I didn't know that some people say you shouldn't keep the heat mat on, so I left it on 24/7 (but the lights got turned off at night). I was only growing tomatoes and peppers, but they did remarkably well. They were kind of leggy toward the end there, but not too badly. I will say, though, that my lettuce did absolutely terribly with the heating mat. Have you ever seen leggy lettuce? It literally can't stand up anymore. So I had to give up hope for them.

This year, I'm only going to use the heating mat for germination and compare it to how the plants did last year.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  Red-Leg on Tue 31 Jan - 18:20

I guess that makes perfect sense for lettuce. I believe they need heat to germinate but look for cooler soil once their heads poke out.

I'm thinking I'll discontinue heat once the seeds germinate.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  camprn on Wed 1 Feb - 7:12

Here is another article about starting seeds, including a tutorial on building a seed starting workstation...
From High Mowing seeds Very Happy

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  jpatti on Wed 1 Feb - 15:37

I keep my seed trays on the heat mat 24/7... until they've sprouted.

Once they've sprouted, they go under the lights for 16 hours on a time, no heat mat.

My house is pretty cold in the winter, varies from about 52-62 or so. I figure it's a pre-hardening off to get them off the heat mat as soon as possible.

Plus I need the heat mat for more seed starting. Mine only holds 2 trays, which means I need the space for the next thing coming along.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  floyd1440 on Wed 1 Feb - 18:21

This will my first time starting seedds inside so I have been reading back yet still have a question or two about heat mats. I looked at Johnny's catalog and noticed on that will fit my shelf nicely. A little costly but I look at it a long term investment.

Do you need a temp gauge or do they stay at constant temp? And leave it on until all seeds are sprouted?



Thanks
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  jpatti on Thu 2 Feb - 7:58

It's probably the same heat mat sold by all the seed companies; I've only ever seen one except in catalogs for farmers, where they have huge choices (fantasies of having a 20 foot hoop house setup...)

It stays on all the time. What I do is stick a flat on it, fill it about 1/4 with warm water, then put in my six packs with seeds, and a cover. Mine holds two trays.

It seems to stay about 70-80 degrees in my house, which is typically warmed to 55-65 or so.

If here is only one tray on the seed mat, it collects cats. Wink

I do NOT use it after the seeds have sprouted. I take the top off and stick the six packs under a grow light in another flat. I only use it for starting seeds.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  quiltbea on Thu 2 Feb - 11:27

I'm another that uses my heat mat only for germination. Once they sprout they go in the furnace room under the lights where the temps are around 62* all the time. Lights are on 16 hrs a day 2-3" above their heads. They seem to thrive just fine.



above: cabbages in their 2" soil blocks.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  gwennifer on Thu 2 Feb - 13:09

jpatti, I'm glad you posted about your house temps. I made dinner rolls from scratch on Sunday and had to laugh at the part of the instructions that said to place the shaped rolls "in a warm place to rise for about an hour until nearly double in size". No such place in my house. I had to resort to using the oven. So from your experience, as long as I cough up the bucks for a heat mat I should still be able to start my own seeds. Good to know.

If I may presume, I'm thinking Floyd was asking if you keep the heat mat on until every single seed has sprouted? Or do you remove from the heat lamp and put under lights as soon as the very first sprout appears? The link camp posted above says the greenhouse cover comes off as soon as that very first seedling emerges, for instance. I know if the tray pack contains all the same seed it should be a moot point, as they all ought to pop up pretty at pretty much the same time, but it's still a fair question for newbies like me.

An additional question: Gardener's Supply says the lights on their seed starting stations are brighter than tradional flourescents. What does that mean? Higher wattage? The price difference of building my own versus buying theirs is substantial. I've seen many people on here building their own - so the shop lights from the hardware store are fine, right?

Thanks everyone!
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  quiltbea on Thu 2 Feb - 13:30

Shoplights work just fine. I've used them now going into my 3rd year. No probs.

Since I start my seeds in 3/4-inch soil blocks, I just remove the single soil block from the heat mat and place under the lights. Someone with experience with those 6-cell packs will have to answer about when to move the cellpacks from off the mat, after one sprouts or wait til all have sprouted. In my case, I've often had only one sprout at a time even tho I've sown them all the same day.



above: some have sprouted, some not yet and all sown the same day.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  floyd1440 on Thu 2 Feb - 19:09

gwenn

You answered my first question as I did not know all the heating mats are the same. And then do I continue to use the mat until all seeds have germinated?



Now about the light; can I use a flouecent light?
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  jpatti on Thu 2 Feb - 19:40

Yes, my house temp is WHY I use a heat mat. It's a lot cheaper than raising the temps in the house to sprouting levels. Also, hubby is Canadian and thinks 70 degrees is a heat wave - he can't stand it. He is a cold weather crop. Wink So it is only warm here pretty much right when I'm showering, as I warm it up a bit then.

They sell big trays with large number of cells... and this is why I don't use them, cause they all sprout at different rates, making life too complicated for me. Wink So... I started broccoli, bok choy, and two cabbages. I started them each in their own 6-pack. So all the seeds in the 6-pack will all sprout at the same time, or close enough, and then I'll move them to under lights. I can move each 6-pack individually as it's ready.

I have a homemade cabinet thingy, with shop lights at the top of two shelves. I use a bunch of different boards to raise or lower the flat so the seedlings are about 2 inches from the light. It's plugged into a timer, which I have set for 16 hours/day.

No one has ever convinced me the extra cost of grow lights was worthwhile... partially because I grew big, healthy non-leggy transplants on a windowsill before I knew better. Wink So... I think there may be optimum conditions, but there are also "good enough" conditions - and regular shop lights have always been good enough.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  floyd1440 on Sat 4 Feb - 17:50

Jpat........





I guess my question in your lighting. You say you use shop lights. Would florecent light do or do you need incondecent lighting for plants?
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  jpatti on Sat 4 Feb - 18:09

They're just regular cheap flourescent lights. Same kind that is over my sink. Ya know, you go to Home Depot or Lowes and buy the cheapest thing you can find.

I know they're not ideal, but... they have always worked for me, so I have never upgraded to the ones with the right color light or whatever grow lights are. I read about them in seed catalogs every year, and then decide to spend my money elsewhere. Wink

Before I knew what I was doing and had never read a gardening book, I had gorgeous, non-leggy, bushy tomato transplants in 1 gallon pots in March... grown just on a windowsill and transplanted 3 or 4 times by then. Amazing what you can do when no one has told you that you can't yet. Wink Lucky for me as a complete newbie, tomatoes like being transplanted a lot.

So... I'm a hard sell on the light issue. The cheap lights keep working, so I keep using them.

One cabbage, the broccoli and bok choy are under it now; the other cabbage only had one sprout so I didn't move it yet. Today, I snipped off the extra seedlings from those six packs too. So far, so good.
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Re: Seed Starting FAQ

Post  floyd1440 on Sat 4 Feb - 19:40

Thanks jpat////////

This is the first year for my seed starting and nice to know a florecent light will do. Everything I SHOULD need is on the way and hopefully I will be starting seeds this time next week.

I built my SFG early last summer so had to buy transplants. What a HUGE expense that was and vowed never to do that again! Fortunately I did save seeds from last years harvest so once I establish a seed starting proceedure SFGing should be a lot less expensive going forward.
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