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Starting from Seeds.

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Starting from Seeds.

Post  jwbryson on 1/31/2011, 2:39 pm

So a friend of mine (who is a better gardener than me) says she doesn't like to start veggies from seeds because it's easier to buy seedlings from a store. Kinda rained on my parade as a 2nd year SFG'er who wanted to try seeds this year. Any thoughts?

I'd probably have to make my own seed lights as I refuse to spend a lot of money buying one, but that can't be too hard. And I would have to grow them in my fairly cold, unfinished basement which is a bummer.

Should I just go with the seedlings at the store or try it on my own from seeds to plants? Thoughts? Suggestions? thanks
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jerzyjen on 1/31/2011, 2:54 pm

I think the answer depends on a few different factors, mainly, how many plants are we talking? If you are going to buy alot of nursery starts, for several seasons, it may be cheaper in the long run to invest in the lights. A seedling mat will help your babies in the cold basement, but I didn't do that last year and most of mine survived (i bought a mat this year in hopes that tomatos & peppers will not just survive but THRIVE Smile

If you think you are only going to need a handful of starter plants, then maybe you can just go that route.

Also, how much effort do you want to put in? Caring for the babies in the basement takes more attention than 5 minutes at the nursery in spring, but not a whole lot more honestly (just have to remember to check them everyday )

I was lucky to get my lights for free. I hung them from my basement rafters. I paid for an automatic timer (less than 10 bucks from Harbor Freight), 28 bucks for the mat (again not necessary, just helpful).
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jerzyjen on 1/31/2011, 2:57 pm

I forgot to mention. It's also part of my fun of the hobby. It gets me really excited about the coming season, and lets me channel some of my gardening itch when its too cold to plant outside (like right now!!ahhhh!). So if you think you might enjoy that part, don't let your friend rain on your parade. If you think it will end up becoming a chore that you will not like, then just buy your plants.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jwbryson on 1/31/2011, 2:59 pm

Last year I was a first year, and I went a little nutzo and planted too much. Picture 6 squash plants in one 4x4 box. I didn't know. Shocked

So this year it's going to be massive amounts of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs, and maybe a sprinkling of this and that. I only have two 4x4 boxes, and no room for more, but I do have a bunch of medium size, round plastic planters that I can use for whatever purpose.

My tomatoes last year did not do well. We are in central Maryland and I think the heat got to them. This year I'm hoping for a better crop.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  boffer on 1/31/2011, 3:05 pm

jwbryson wrote:Should I just go with the seedlings at the store or try it on my own from seeds to plants?

One reason to start your own seeds is that you can grow varieties that you'll never be able to buy as a start.

I've tried starting seeds two years now, with OK success, but I'm not that interested in it. If I can find the starts I want at the nursery down the street, then I'm content to buy them.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jwbryson on 1/31/2011, 3:08 pm

Good point. Part of the reason I wanted to try seeds was to get my feet wet, so to speak, and it will give me something to do with my 6 year old until it's warm enough to go outdoors.

Looking for snow and ice tonight. I'm DONE with the cold. Mad
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  miinva on 1/31/2011, 3:13 pm

I'm going to put some crocus bulbs I got on sale into pots, maybe you could give bulbs a try to get your garden juju flowing? Smile

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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  Blackrose on 1/31/2011, 3:20 pm

Last year I did a little of both. I started some things from seed and also bought starters at the nursery. Maybe that's a good way to start for you. That way you are not too overwhelmed with starting everything from seed.

Of course, this year I'm going all out and starting everything from seed. I hope I have enough space in my kitchen.
lol!
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jwbryson on 1/31/2011, 3:49 pm

Okay, now I'm getting excited about this Spring's planting. I've officially got "the bug."

Very Happy

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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  quill33 on 1/31/2011, 5:14 pm

seed stating is not that hard really - just need a light source. one could even stack boxes/shelving units/etc under the flourescent lights already in stalled in basement if that's what you have. It worked well for me last year. To create heat in my cold basement for starting tomatoes, I simply used the shop light using a traditional 60 watt light bulb. Those things are seriously hot when left on for any amount ofT time. I merely rotated it 12 hours under the windowsill seed starting tray, and 12 hours over it - to give light. because the light was on 24 hours/day, the seeds stayed warm and sprouted timely.

This year, I invested in a dedicated shelving unit and 2 new shop lights 'only' for seed starting and garden items (for the remainder of the shelving unit.

I scrounged up a heater that was unused and a spare thermometer with humidity readout from elsewhere in the house and voila, a seed starting set up that has everything I need for success. I have a clip on fan as well that was very useful last year and will use that again, this year.

February 2 is the big seed starting day here for my cold weather crops - brassicas and lettuces. I'm considering starting some tomatoes as well but I will try to hold off on that til March.




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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  quiltbea on 1/31/2011, 8:56 pm

I started my first seeds last year and I loved it. I got varieties I couldn't get locally and I have lots of seeds leftover that I can trade or use this year.

I got a heating mat to get my babies germinated, and then bought one 4' shop light with double daylight bulbs and was so happy with it, I bought 2 more sets. With a total of 3 on my banquet tables in the furnace room, I enjoyed my adventure into starting my own seeds. I had so many more than needed I gave some to dau, some to members of our local community garden, and others to the local library for their annual plant sale in June. None went to waste.

Here are assorted crops under one set of lights on April 27th last year.

I can't wait to begin again this year. I like unusual varieties, like Violet Queen, a purple cauliflower. I don't eat cauli, but my family said it tasted better than the white Fremont. And the different varieties of tomatoes I was able to roast and freeze were much appreciated by everyone who got them. They added a wonderful flavor to tomato sauces and chili dishes.

A purple cauliflower, Violet Queen, on June 12th last year.

If you've got the space and the dollars to get started, its something you'll probably really enjoy.
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starting seeds?

Post  ander217 on 2/1/2011, 8:07 am

My husband made our seed-starting frame from scrap wood. He made a large square frame with a wide base. He fastened a growlight bulb to a piece of scrap wood. He attached old window blind pulls to each end of the light. He then placed eyehooks under the top of the frame, and threaded the blind pulls through them and ran them out a hole drilled on one side of the frame near the top. The strings allow us to raise and lower the light as needed. We use one of those large, heavy duty metal spring clips against the hole to hold the strings in place where we want them.

I like this setup because I can pull only one string or the other to raise one end of the light higher if I have something growing faster and taller which needs the light pulled up higher above it. I just squeeze open the clip, pull the string, and close the clip again over the strings right next to the hole which keeps the light at its new height.

I start my seeds, covered with plastic wrap, on top of our TV satellite receiver. Once they have sprouted I remove the plastic and place the seeds on the frame in a cool place. I think they do better when grown in cool temps.

I buy some seedlings at the store, but I always wonder what they use as fertilizer to get them so large. I like knowing exactly what has been fed to my plants.

Another option is direct-seeding. Tomatoes and peppers don't have to be started indoors if you don't mind them taking an extra couple of weeks before fruit production begins. There is always some transplant shock when setting seedlings in the garden, and I've found that direct-seeded plants catch up fairly fast. This year I plan to do some of both to see just how much longer direct-seeding takes. (Experts say that tomatoes should be transplanted a couple of times to make the plants stronger, but when we have volunteers come up in our garden we sometimes leave them, and they look just as strong and healthy, if not stronger, than our transplanted plants.)
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  jwbryson on 2/1/2011, 8:12 am

Great posts everybody. It seems that everybody has had a different experience with seeds, and some like it while others don't. I won't know until I try it. I think I may try a few seeds this year to get familiar with it (can't be that hard Smile ), and see how it goes.

I wish we had more room for boxes, but we live in Montgomery County, Maryland, where space is not abundant, so my backyard is a bit small.

Can't wait for the Spring!!
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  martha on 2/2/2011, 5:34 pm

Hi, JW. (Hope you don't mind me calling you that!) I grew up here in MA, where I now reside, but I lived in Howard County for seven years.

For several years, I planted seeds, which survived just long enough to keep me entertained until it was time to go to the nursery and buy starts. Two years ago I had some actual success, and last year I had fantastic success!

The seeds aren't that expensive, and as you said, you won't know until you try!
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low tech seed starting??

Post  MomofOz on 2/12/2011, 10:06 pm

so this may sound totally dumb - but I am just getting started and I just planted seeds with pellets in an egg carton in my kitchen window - all this talk of lights and heaters makes me think my simple plan may be too simple
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  quiltbea on 2/12/2011, 10:31 pm

MomofOz.....Welcome to the group. Lots of lessons to be learned here. We'll share our successes and failures with you and maybe help you along the way.

Some folks can start seeds in their windows. You probably can because you're in Texas where there's lots of sunshine. I can't because I'm in Maine with only west facing windows so I need the heat mat and the lights.

You can try to see if it works for you. That's how you learn.
Good luck.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  Odd Duck on 2/14/2011, 10:18 am

MomofOz, you'll probably be OK, but just be prepared to up-pot very soon. Egg cartons don't hold much soil, so you'll need to get those seedlings into a bigger pot or into the ground very soon (depending on what veg you're growing).

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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  MomofOz on 2/14/2011, 10:25 am

good to know I am learning so much already!!
I do have a south facing window in texas so I think I am ok on sunlight and heat - but I'll keep a keen eye on them!
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  dixie on 2/14/2011, 2:53 pm

I didn't read through all the replies, but I always use 4' shop lights with regular fluorescent bulbs. I have used the Grow bulbs before, but couldn't tell any difference.

I have a metal shelving unit that I place my trays on and suspend the lights to as close to the seed trays as possible, then as the seeds emerge I raise the lights , always keeping them as close to the tops of the plants as possible. I also use the the 72 pack greenhouse setup, usually find them at Lowe's. It is just a rectangular tray with plastic cells, then a clear plastic lid. Just cut the cells apart (9 cells each). They are the light weight black plastic like you get bedding plants in. I don't have a problem with damping off if I use the seed starting mix (around here it is Jiffy Mix). When plants emerge water from the bottom (I remove one 9 pack from the tray, add water, put 9 pack back in). I personally don't like the compressed pots or peat pots, but it's just a personal preference.
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no luck here

Post  model a man on 2/16/2011, 11:40 am

I planted seeds using the jiffy green house trays and it has been 14 days and I have not seen any sprouting of anything yet. at first I left them ourside for the first week but then brought them in for the 2 week thinking maybe it was to cold outside at night, how much longer should I wait till I try again, I planted lots of different things. Lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, brock, boy choy, peppers, calli, and some I cant think of right now. thanks
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Starting from seeds

Post  SQFTBIX on 2/16/2011, 12:16 pm

Well, this may be regrettably a total washout. Don't give up hope but, if you can, water them to remoisten them and then place them on top of your refrigerator and place some kind of cover - plastic wrap perhaps - over them to create a mini greenhouse. The seeds just might react to that. Here's hoping for you!

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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  quiltbea on 2/16/2011, 12:30 pm

Most seeds need darkness to germinate. The only one I can think of that wants light is lettuce.
You need to get those into the dark with moisture if you are to save any. It might be worth a try.
Cover to keep the moisture inside.
They don't want light until they germinate.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  MomofOz on 2/16/2011, 12:34 pm

so take mine out of the window then??
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  Odd Duck on 2/16/2011, 12:38 pm

I don't think most seeds actually need darkness to germinate, but very few need light. I could be wrong, I just haven't ever read that light is a problem for the actual seed. I put my planted seeds under light for the heat they get and haven't had any problems from it. Keeping them out of the light does help inhibit algae growth (more of a problem for seeds that take a long time to germinate). I think that's the big reason most recommend they don't put them under the lights to germinate. Space under grow lights is also usually at a premium for most and another reason not to put them under lights until they pop their little "heads" up. I think if you have any covering of soil at all, that would be "dark" enough. Most seeds would never sprout if they needed darkness, Mother [Nature] doesn't always bury seeds and they sprout just fine.

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Re: Starting from Seeds.

Post  quiltbea on 2/16/2011, 1:24 pm

I stand corrected. They don't require sunlight to germinate would be a better way to put it.
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Re: Starting from Seeds.

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