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When starting seeds indoors

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When starting seeds indoors

Post  LaborDay RN on 1/3/2012, 5:44 pm

For those of you who start seeds indoors, do you use vermiculite or Mel's Mix (or something else all together!)? I read in ANSFG that vermiculite is used and them plants are transplanted to 4 packs. I would like to start my seed in plastic cups I already have available (holes in the bottom) and just go straight to the garden from there. Is that feasible? I will have a small set up.....a few shelves in my garage with a couple of shop lights. Thanks in advance!!

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  camprn on 1/3/2012, 5:55 pm

I usually use a seed starting soilless mix like BM8 and plant directly into the cells. I will transplant some plants into plastic cups later.
There are a few threads from last year about seed starting that are worth reading.


Last edited by camprn on 1/3/2012, 6:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  martha on 1/3/2012, 6:13 pm

Vermiculite is an excellent seed starting medium. Being lazy, however, I start them in a sterile, soil-less seed starting mix, such as Fox Farm. I don't see any reason not to start them in MM, but I would use brand new, just mixed stuff. You don't want to expose them to the wrong elements when they are too young.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 1/3/2012, 6:59 pm

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t5343p15-seed-starting-experiment?highlight=vermiculite+seed+starting

Page 2 for pic.


Vermiculite in a tray or cup is a very easy way to start seeds. I do so only to sprout them and pop them in the garden immediately. If I needed to keep them indoors for a bit, I would use either a sterile medium or something with a little nutritional value to it.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/3/2012, 7:53 pm

I also used vermiculite to sprout many of my seeds before putting the sprouts into six pack seedling cells filled with Mel's Mix. I had a better germination rate using vermiculite than I had with the Jiffy pellets (you know, the little peat discs you soak in water and they swell from 1/4 inch thick to 1 1/2 inches tall) To be honest,I might not have used the jiffy pellets correctly, maybe too much water one day, not enough the next day, etc., but I had such great results with the vermiculite, that is the way I will be going this year. I had a good bit of vermiculite left over from my last purchase of Mel's Mix ingredients. (But, Honey, it was on sale ..... Laughing )

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  Goosegirl on 1/3/2012, 8:44 pm

I don't know what it is about the Jiffy pellets, but I always have terrible success with them. I seem to do better starting my seeds in the 3" cow pots that I am going to put right into the garden. It has worked in the past, so that is what I am doing this year. I may try a tray of vermiculite for my second set of seedlings, but I have given up on Jiffy pellets. I am just Jiffy-challenged!

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  bears4x4 on 1/4/2012, 1:08 am

When starting the seeds what other nutrients are needed to be added when watering or is nothing needed?

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  jkahn2eb on 1/4/2012, 9:30 am

I use vermiculite in cups with the tops cut off and three holes drilled in the bottom (I just drill a huge stack at once). Mine all sprout strong. Once they're up, make sure they have light. I use regular shop lights but have heeded everyone's advice on the site to keep the light within an inch or two of the seedlings. I haven't invested in a heat mat yet.

Once the seedlings are standing straight up and getting their first true leaves, pull 'em out and place into their own separate container. If you don't do this soon, their roots (which are at this point much longer than you think), will start twisting around other roots making separation more difficult and Mel's rule in the book is don't touch the roots.

When I move the seedlings to a cup, I fill with Mel's Mix, punch a hole with my finger, place the seedling in and then surround with a small amount of seed starter mix.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  LaborDay RN on 1/4/2012, 12:27 pm

Thanks so much for the replies! I think the part that makes me the most nervous about the vermiculite method is lifting the plant by the seed leaves and transplanting to a new container. I'm afraid I won't be gentle enough. I think I'll just plant extra and give it a try. Thanks again for the advise!

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  quiltbea on 1/4/2012, 12:43 pm

I keep my in-law apt at 58F nites to 64F days so I need a neat mat to start my seeds or they wouldn't sprout because its too darn cold.

Then its into 2" soil blocks in the furnace room under shop lights with a little more heat so they do well once sprouted.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 1/4/2012, 5:18 pm

LaborDayRN - I thought that too about pulling them out. But I tested some last year after reading BBGs post on how easy it was to sprout in verm. It actually is just as easy as he said. The verm never hardens or congeals or anything. It's always loose. So the seedlings really do just lift right out (in fact some small particles of verm seemed to actually "stick" to the roots on mine). Smile

Here is an awesome post by MM and BBG with pics showing how it's done:
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6213-the-best-use-for-vermiculite-isn-t-in-your-garden


Last edited by UnderTheBlackWalnut on 1/4/2012, 5:21 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link to previous post about sprouting in verm)

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  HillbillyBob on 1/9/2012, 12:07 pm

I use Jeffy pellets myself really makes it easy to repot after the seed gets started I'll use cups or peat pots which ever I have handy at the time Laughing Bottom heat is the trick for me cheers , first round of tomates/chives I'm batting a 1000 this year every little seed has made it sunny most all my bell peppers are up now too

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  quiltbea on 1/9/2012, 1:02 pm

With all this positive talk about starting in vermiculite, I'm going to have to try it as an experiment. Sounds easy enough.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  jkahn2eb on 1/9/2012, 1:07 pm

When pulling seedlings out of the vermiculite, the root snaps halfway up the root ~40% of the time. It doesn't seem to affect plants as all look the same a week after moving into Mel's Mix. My hypothesis is, like SFG book says, those with snapped roots will grow up slower while its roots propogate, which could mean faster growth upwards later.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  LaborDay RN on 1/9/2012, 1:45 pm

Undertheblackwalnut: Thanks so much for that link! I can't believe I missed that one when I was searching for info! Thanks again!

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  plantoid on 1/9/2012, 2:44 pm

@jkahn2eb wrote:When pulling seedlings out of the vermiculite, the root snaps halfway up the root ~40% of the time. It doesn't seem to affect plants as all look the same a week after moving into Mel's Mix. My hypothesis is, like SFG book says, those with snapped roots will grow up slower while its roots propogate, which could mean faster growth upwards later.

Use a small teaspoon to lift the whole plant and as many roots as you can instead of pulling the seedling out , that way you get even more roots and far less uprooting shock / distress to the plant .


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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/10/2012, 6:12 pm

@jkahn2eb wrote:When pulling seedlings out of the vermiculite, the root snaps halfway up the root ~40% of the time. It doesn't seem to affect plants as all look the same a week after moving into Mel's Mix. My hypothesis is, like SFG book says, those with snapped roots will grow up slower while its roots propogate, which could mean faster growth upwards later.



I really did not have a problem with snapped roots, though I am very glad to hear those seedlings with short roots did well too.

I was careful to hold the seed leaf with one hand (actually two fingers) and using the other hand, poke the pencil into the vermiculite until it was under the new seedling, then lift the pencil while holding on to the seedling. It removes the plant and all of the roots. Worked like a charm.

Iwas absolutely amazed at how LONG those little roots were in just the few days from planting to transplanting.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  jpatti on 1/19/2012, 2:37 am

@LaborDay RN wrote:Thanks so much for the replies! I think the part that makes me the most nervous about the vermiculite method is lifting the plant by the seed leaves and transplanting to a new container. I'm afraid I won't be gentle enough. I think I'll just plant extra and give it a try. Thanks again for the advise!

I've never been any good at things that are tiny. My fingers seem somehow too thick.

What I do is fill a six pack about 3/4 with a good growing mix, then top with vermiculite. Start seeds in the vermiculite layer which gives you all the advantages of doing that, but then they'll grow into the growing mix for food without you needing to transplant tiny things that are hard to futz with.

With this method, the only thing I transplant indoors at all is tomatoes, mostly because tomatoes like the extra transplanting, but they are a good size before I transplant them. Everything else goes straight from the pot where seeded into the garden.

The disadvantage is you have a much larger volume to warm on a seedling mat. I've just given up on some things like onions and leeks that take too much space; easier to buy plants for those.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  FLA-girl on 1/26/2012, 5:51 pm

Does anyone know if you live in FL, where it gets warm at this time of year, does it hurt to stick them outside part of the day once they have sprouts, or should I keep them by a window. And CAN I keep them by the window???

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  Chopper on 1/26/2012, 6:20 pm

@FLA-girl wrote:Does anyone know if you live in FL, where it gets warm at this time of year, does it hurt to stick them outside part of the day once they have sprouts, or should I keep them by a window. And CAN I keep them by the window???

Here in CA where it is still chilly at night but warm (70s) during the day, I put them in the sun in the daytime and walk them in at night. I did leave them out one night but they looked a little the worse for wear so I will wait until they are bigger and stronger and it is warmer. I want them hardened off as soon as is possible.

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Re: When starting seeds indoors

Post  HillbillyBob on 1/26/2012, 6:32 pm

my plants are outside,in a cool greenhouse(unheated) but I do keep lights and a heat mat on under them trick is to keep there roots @ about 60*and I also go with at least 16hours of light,until they have there second set of ture leaves only then will I start harding them off about 5 or 6 days before setting transplants outside in the garden

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