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Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

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Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  NowWeAreFour on 2/18/2013, 3:36 pm

First, I'm so excited to be back here again! Last year DH and I started our first SFG, and we were overwhelmed with goodies all summer long! I learned so much just lurking here, and I'm looking forward to hanging out again Smile

OK, so... I've been trying to gather containers for reuse. Some are large enough that I could possibly start several seeds in them, but I'm not sure if that's wise. Will the roots get tangled up if I do that? I don't want to have to fight to get the roots apart without damaging them when it comes time to transplant. I'll use the smaller cells if I have to, but I'd have to buy new, and I was hoping to reuse as much as possible this year.

Also, I'm trying to reduce the amount of peat we use. I keep seeing people talking about starting seeds in toilet paper tubes and newspaper rolls instead of peat cells, and I like that idea. Have people had success with those methods? IIRC, the roots begin to make their way through the peat cell walls. Will the heavier paper impede that process? Is it possible to remove the soil ball (clump?) and seedling from a TP tube or newspaper cell easily for transplanting, or does it all turn into a mess?

And if I don't want to use a peat soil-starting medium, are there other options? I've heard that garden soil is too heavy for seed starting, but seeds that are direct sown in the beds do just fine. Could I just scoop some of my bed soil and use that?

Thanks, I appreciate any insight anyone can offer!
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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  Gunny on 2/18/2013, 4:19 pm

Hi there, the use of newspaper and tubes is great. You do not have to remove the plant from them. You just put the whole thing in your garden. It will break down so no worries and no mess. This comes from researching not from my own experience Laughing
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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  plantoid on 2/18/2013, 5:02 pm

NWAF

Use MM or vermiculite for the multiple seed sowing in the bigger pots .
When you come to the planting out , soak the pot up to the rim in air tem warm rain water for an hour or .... so you'll be able to almost pour the plants out .

Carefuly lift them up with a spoon don't damage the fine hair roots , stem or leaves , slip them into a well watered hole, then use the spooon to place a bit more MM to fill the hole and re water well .

Note for bigger slower growing plants such as melons & cutbits , use smaller 3 inch pots , for the big root systems they produce will definitel intertwine and have to be separated .
It's not usually very succesful to pot sow carrots and transplant them .

If you use Gunny's paper pot method , make sure that the top of the pot is slightly below the ground zero level or else the paper wil tend to draw up water out of the area like a wick , this often lead to poor plants . ( Guess how I know Embarassed )
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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  camprn on 2/18/2013, 5:15 pm

I usually sprout the seeds in trays then transplant the seedlings into cells when they are small.
The yellow tray on the right is what I have sprouted the tomato seeds in and transferring into the tray of individual cells on the left. This photo from 3/29/11.

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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  plantoid on 2/18/2013, 5:22 pm

@plantoid wrote:NWAF

Use MM or vermiculite for the multiple seed sowing in the bigger pots .
When you come to the planting out , soak the pot up to the rim in air tem warm rain water for an hour or .... so you'll be able to almost pour the plants out .

Carefuly lift them up with a spoon don't damage the fine hair roots , stem or leaves , slip them into a well watered hole, then use the spoon to place a bit more MM to fill the hole and re water well .

Note for bigger slower growing plants such as melons & cutbits , use smaller 3 inch pots , for the big root systems they produce will definitely intertwine and have to be separated .
It's not usually very succesful to pot sow carrots and transplant them .

If you use Gunny's paper pot method , make sure that the top of the pot is slightly below the ground zero level or else the paper will tend to draw up water out of the area like a wick , this often lead to poor plants . ( Guess how I know Embarassed )
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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  quiltbea on 2/18/2013, 7:44 pm

You don't need garden soil to start seed, and shouldn't. You can introduce disease if you use outdoor garden soil. Indoors one has to depend on artificial light or low light from windowsills. Not so in the garden area which gets strong sunlight. The soil for seed starting indrs should be very light and not a potting mix, just a seed starting mix. The seedling just needs to get itself started.

If you start several seeds in a 4" pot or container, they will do fine for germination. You will be transplanting them into their own cells/pots shortly after they germinate so their roots will be very light and thin and not tangly.

Some crops dislike having their roots disturbed at all in which case starting them in individual cells that can be cut away when transplanting outdoors might work best for you.

If you use peat pots or tissue rolls or newspaper pots, you can always cut them away when you transplant outdoors if you are worried about them not disintegrating, tho if wet when planted, and the tops buried below the soil, they should degrade quite easily and not interfere with the new root growth. Personally I think I would cut away most of a peat pot. They take considerable time to degrade.

There are many different techniques to start seeds and gardeners each find the way that works best for them. Try a couple of different things and see how you like them and make your favorite choice later.
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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  RoOsTeR on 2/18/2013, 8:29 pm


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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/19/2013, 1:46 pm

I use anything that's handy rather than buy more stuff. I like best the large clam paks that 1 lb of Spring Mix lettuce comes in as I can mass plant seeds in them and also close the lid for a 'greenhouse' affect til the seeds sprout. They also hold 3 6-pak cells so I can add water to the bottom instead of watering from the top.

Here's what I did yesterday:

There are also 3 more 6-paks of seeds inside a clam pak sitting on a heating pad, not shown in the photo, but 2 clam paks fit on that heating pad just fine. When dividing mass planted seeds, like I did yesterday, I use a plastic fork and spoon to dig out, separate and lift them.

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Re: Seed starting ??s: In larger containers rather than cells? Alternatives to peat?

Post  Triciasgarden on 2/19/2013, 10:58 pm

I agree that peat pots do wick the moisture away from the plant if any of the pot is above the surface and I also think they restrict the roots because they take so long to break down. Learned from experience also. I did do the TP roll method and had good results. I cut away the roll when I transplanted because I didn't trust it to not hinder the growth of the roots into the adjoining soil. If I use them again, I would soak the whole roll and get it good and soggy and then remove it from the root ball. I didn't then but I would now since I have learned more.

I mostly just repeated what others said, didn't I? Rolling Eyes
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