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Help with starting seeds indoors

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Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  Kate888 on 2/21/2013, 12:15 pm

This is my second year of SFG. Last year I started a lot indoors. I used 2 normal 40w fluorescent bulbs in a shop light, with foil down on each side. I had the seedlings as close to the light as I could get. The last couple of weeks before plants went out I had an oscillating fan blow gently on them.

My first starts were broccoli and brussel sprouts. They did beautifully, and were nice and big when it was time to set them out. I started the tomatoes and bell peppers later, but used the same light setup and although they started off all right for the first few weeks, they just never got very big. They weren't skinny or anything, just never got past a few weeks' growth. I ended up buying starts to plant. I also started several flower seeds, too, Some did all right, but not great, but most did like the tomatoes and peppers.

So, I'm looking for help for this year. So do I need different bulbs? Do I need to add warm bulbs, too? I can't afford the really expensive bulbs, but I really enjoyed taking care of the plants indoors (when I used to do it years ago I never really enjoyed that part) but it was a real frustration to have so few actually be planted. I know it will keep costs down if I could just get it right.

Thanks!

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  CapeCoddess on 2/21/2013, 12:23 pm

Sounds almost like a temperature issue. Did you ever plant your tomatoes, peppers and flowers out into the garden? If so, what happened?

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  camprn on 2/21/2013, 12:32 pm

It sounds like you did everything right and congratulations on your success.

I had similar difficulties with my peppers, tomatoes and aubergine. For my situation I know it was just not warm enough in my house, those babies like it WARM!Like 80*-90*F !!
I keep my house temperature topping at about 65*F Like you I ended up buying hothouse eggplants and a few tomato plants until my home grown ones could catch up.

http://gardennaturallynow.com/files/eggplant.htm

http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/tomato-from-seed.html

http://www.wikihow.com/Grow-a-Tomato-Plant

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  Coelli on 2/21/2013, 12:32 pm

Kate, I don't know what happened with your peppers and tomatoes but I can tell you that I have mine (started late December) under a 4', 4-T8 fixture with daylight bulbs, water with worm tea, and fertilize with fish emulsion and some of my tomatoes are flowering and one has already set fruit. I started them off in little newspaper pots, then moved them to Solo cups with potting soil halfway up when they were a couple of inches tall. When they got high enough above the rims of the cups I filled the cups to the top. This has given them very thick stems as well.

I have the light on a 16-hour timer and use a moisture meter to verify when they need to be watered.

My hot peppers did not do nearly as well but I think that was user error on my part Very Happy A couple of them are thriving but the rest are struggling and I may start over (there's still time!). The bell peppers that were started on 1/24 seem to be doing much better.

Good luck, hope someone has some good advice for you Smile

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  quiltbea on 2/21/2013, 12:51 pm

I agree with some others here. Its an indoor temp problem. Being in the north, many of us keep our homes turned down to the low 60s. The warm-weather crops like it warmer, especially eggplants. I keep mine in the furnace room because it stays a little warmer than my house. Mine get pretty strong, but not large enuf to produce fruit (which I don't want before transplanting out anyway). Once they get outdoors in the heat, it should make a remarkable difference, even with smaller plants. They can easily catch up with your store-bought plants if put out when its warm enough. Remember, those store-boughts have had ideal growing conditons in greenhouses and even been pumped with fertilizers so are apt to be larger.

Some folks feed their babies a liquid fertilizer or compost tea at half strength shortly after putting them in 4" or larger pots. It will give them a boost for faster growth.

Try again this year and see how it goes. Don't look for picture-perfect plants and be satisfied with sturdy ones with strong stems instead. The soil temps around the root zone at transplanting time makes a big difference outdoors. Tomatoes like it 70F, Peppers 70-85 and eggplants 80-90. If less than ideal, it takes them longer to get going.

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  Icemaiden on 2/21/2013, 12:58 pm

@Kate888 wrote:

My first starts were broccoli and brussel sprouts. They did beautifully, and were nice and big when it was time to set them out. I started the tomatoes and bell peppers later, but used the same light setup and although they started off all right for the first few weeks, they just never got very big. They weren't skinny or anything, just never got past a few weeks' growth. I ended up buying starts to plant. I also started several flower seeds, too, Some did all right, but not great, but most did like the tomatoes and peppers.


Thanks!

What was the growing medium? One year my peppers and tomatoes germinated fine but just didn't get going until I repotted them in better stuff. Mixes sold for sowing seeds won't have much food for a seedling and I think it varies from plant to plant just how much starvation they will tolerate.

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  yolos on 2/21/2013, 1:08 pm

Quiltbea - do you fertilize the plants growing in your soil blocks and if so, what do you use. My tomatoes are about 2 inches tall and have not developed their true leaves and I am not sure whether to fertilize or not. They have not grown much in the last week and I keep wondering if I need to fertilize. I used Johnny's mix for the blocks. They are just under (almost touching) shoplights with 4 daylight bulbs.

Also, at what point do you up-pot them to larger pots.

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  Kate888 on 2/21/2013, 1:16 pm

It would make sense that it would be the temp. It was probably about 60 degrees in that room at that time. And I'm thinking the broccoli doesn't mind that a bit. Is it okay to put a heat lamp nearby (I have one I use for brooding my chicks) if I check to make sure it doesn't get too hot? I have such a short growing season, I'd like to get them producing as early as possible.

Of course, it gets so complicated with lots of plants inside trying to keep them all with their specific needs without having way too many growing areas, since they are all starting at different times, are different heights. It was quite a juggling act last year. I need to find a way to get it better organized this time.

Some were planted with potting soil, some of the later ones with Mel's Mix, but it didn't seem to make much difference. I didn't put any of tomatoes out, and only one of the bell peppers - it didn't produce a single pepper. A few of the flowers that were okay but small went out and they did just fine.

Thanks for the help!


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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

Post  quiltbea on 2/21/2013, 1:50 pm

yolos.....I don't fertilize when using Johnny's Mix for the soil blocks. They have compost in them already. They will fulfill the seedling needs until they have to go into 4" or larger pots. After the move to 4" or larger pots I wait 2 or 3 days for the tranplant to settle, then water with a mild compost tea for a little boost.

At the beginning, with the 3/4" blocks I up-pot to the 2" blocks when they either look too big for the mini block or they are getting true leaves, whichever comes first.

If its tomatoes, I actually dig out the little hole in the 2-incher a bit more so they can go down deeper in the block. The same with peppers. They will grow more roots that way. I bottom water in my trays under the lights but I don't feed them any extra fertilizer. Like I said, if you are using the special mix, it already has some compost, unlike store-bought sterile starting mix that doesn't. For the larger seedlings kept indoors in their larger pots for 4 or more weeks, I will feed a bit more compost tea in 3-4 weeks after up-potting.

Most seedlings, even the warm-weather ones, prefer to be moved under the light with temps around 60-65 degrees around them to get them started healthy. They don't want it too hot. The heat mat is extra warm to get the seeds germinated only. Warmer temps are preferred by warm-eather crops as they grow larger.

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Re: Help with starting seeds indoors

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