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Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

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Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  nyrsimon on 1/13/2013, 7:29 pm

Folks,

So a (late) Happy New Year to everybody.

I am going to try again this year and I am hoping to get some advice and support!

Last year I started toms, peppers & lettuce seeds indoors and then went to transplant them outside. They ALL died. I then planted seeds directly and they worked well, but obviously I lost some time.

So has a) anybody got a shoulder to cry on! and b) any advice for transplanting?

I have done some research and I *think* I should have 'hardened' them and also I *suspect* I transplanted a little too soon. When is a seedling read to transplant? any good rules of thumb??

Also what do you guys grow seedlings in? I bought one of the fancy starter pots (you know two rows of 12 small plastic pots, with the clear plastic lid), but I suspect they are too small and it was also REALLY hard to get the seedlings out....should I be saving those yogurt cartons????

Any help is MUCH appreciated!

Thanks,
Simon - Monmouth County, NJ
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  Pollinator on 1/13/2013, 10:01 pm

nyrsimon wrote:
Last year I started toms, peppers & lettuce seeds indoors and then went to transplant them outside. They ALL died. I then planted seeds directly and they worked well, but obviously I lost some time.

So has a) anybody got a shoulder to cry on! and b) any advice for transplanting?

I have done some research and I *think* I should have 'hardened' them and also I *suspect* I transplanted a little too soon.

Ultraviolet light is probably the reason. Indoor plants have not been exposed to it and are sun scorched by the rays, if suddenly put outside.

Before setting them out permanently, put them outside in a shady spot the first day. The second day put them in the sun for a half hour. Each day expand the amount of direct sun, until they "harden off" in a week or so. Then they should thrive when transplanted into the ground.
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  nyrsimon on 1/13/2013, 11:11 pm

Pollinator wrote:

Ultraviolet light is probably the reason. Indoor plants have not been exposed to it and are sun scorched by the rays, if suddenly put outside.

Before setting them out permanently, put them outside in a shady spot the first day. The second day put them in the sun for a half hour. Each day expand the amount of direct sun, until they "harden off" in a week or so. Then they should thrive when transplanted into the ground.

OK - thank you. I was wondering if that made a big difference - I guess it does. OK I'l give it a shot this year and we'll so how it goes

Thanks for taking the time - much appreciated.

Simon
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  CharlesB on 1/14/2013, 10:39 am

What seems to have worked best for me is getting them started indoors but getting them exposed to the elements as soon as possible. So indoors I would get them to germinate but then get them outside fast. I would keep them covered and in a location with full shade. Covered but not suffocated. If I had a clear plastic lid on them I would make sure to keep that ajar for air to move. I put them next to my shed on the side where they wouldn't get direct sunlight. Also I would keep them off the ground. If they are on the ground slugs have a buffet.

After a few days you'll see how they look. If they managed the transistion ok, give them more air and less protection. After a week or two I move them so they will be out of the shade of the shed for a small time. If it gets hot out you can't let them in direct sun though. They will roast.

So a lot of it goes by looking at the plants. Another thing I have found useful is starting lots and lots of seeds. It doesn't cost you anything more and if they die you just use the cup with dirt in it to start another. If you mess up that way you have backups. My favorite is yogurt cups and solo plastic cups for things that will be in there a while. For things I will "prick out" I use flats of all soil and then prick out seedlings to plant where I want in the SFG. I use plastic tubs I get at the dollar store for a dollar for that. Once you prick the items out you just put in more seeds and keep going. Always having a supply of seedlings to put in places you want.

To do the "pricking out" of the flats I use wood tongue depressors like chop sticks. This is very fast and easy and I haven't lost a prick out yet.
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  cheyannarach on 1/14/2013, 10:48 am

Also when you put your transplants out be sure to save summer crops until chance of frost is well past, I don't know what zone you are in but I am 5A and I can direct sow peas, lettuce, cabbage, kohlrabi, and broccoli the end of april. I put out my summer crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, and cukes out the first or second week of June. And hardening of is a must! It sure is fun to start them yourself and once you start getting the timing down it will be a lot more fun that frusterating! Have fun!
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  quiltbea on 1/14/2013, 11:04 am

nysrimon.....I don't think I welcomed you earlier. Your name is not familiar. I do so now...Welcome to the forum.

Yes, don't forget to harden them off as mentioned by pollinator above and don't put them out too early in the season if its too cold as mentioned by cheyenn above.

I personally let them grow healthy and happy under my lights until a week or 2 before I plan to transplant them. They don't go outside sooner but you can get them used to the outdoors by brushing a piece of printer/notebook paper lightly across their tops from side to side a few times a day, when they have a little size to them, to give them a taste of outside breezes. It strengthens their stems.


After they are transplanted, cover them during the hottest part of the day with lightweight row cover or cheesecloth so they can acclimate easier. Here's some basil and Oregon Spring toms under cheesecloth after transplanting. The cloth is just draped over some sticks and will only be used 2 or 3 days.

There is an ongoing thread titled 'Seed Starting' right now that began last year. You could learn much from reading the posts and seeing the photos. Check the listing on the left.

Good luck and enjoy the experience.
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  nyrsimon on 1/14/2013, 11:43 am

Thank you everyone for the feedback. It is so incredibly helpful - you guys rock!

It is clear I need to harden them - I didn't do that at all last year and it was disaster - you live and learn!

I'll definitely take a look at the seed starting thread - I am deep in the middle of putting the finishing touches to my plan for 2013 so it is timely

Again thanks to all for the responses.
Simon
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Re: Newbie - seeds or seedlings?

Post  bakermtb on 1/28/2013, 7:33 pm

Welcome to SFG forum. bounce Have you read the seed starting chapter in the ANSFG book? You can start with what Mel talks about. Then follow what everyone else has informed you about.
Mel has done the homework for you and it works. I have been following his way and has worked very well for many years.
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