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Starting Seeds for Spring Gardens
Need some advice from the pros - how do you know when to start the seeds indoors?  A lot of seed packets give number of days to maturity but this doesn't include the amount of time before transplants are set out.

I want to start all my plants this year from seeds and buy nothing from the nursery.  This is for several reasons.  Last year my nursery plants did horrible, except for the tomatoes, which were okay but not great.  Only the cherry tomato plant did well.  Need to make sure I know how to start seeds and have them produce healthy plants before my family's life might depend on it.  Tired of paying a fortune for 4 tiny plants that then just die. 

If I want 12 tomato plants, how many seeds do I plant to get those 12 healthy plants? 
Do I start with 24 seeds (I always double plant) or do I have say 4-6 extra plants, just in case they don't grow right. 
Do I just plant in a large undivided flat, wait for those babies to grow and once they are decent size, transplant to a larger pot for them to continue growing in till time to set out?  

How soon do I start growing the really early plants, like peas and broccoli for Spring crops? 

Did I mention I am excited for gardening??
It depends on where you are, based on your growing season, but we start our first seeds in Feb.  We use the divided flats and put 2 or 3 seeds in each section.  We do about 4 times as many as the number of plants we want and cull the ones that don't do as well.  Peas are best started in the ground as soon as you can work the soil, they are very cold hardy.  Some plants are hard to start form seed like peppers,  I have found you need to use a heat mat to get them started.  You will want to use a light that you can raise as the plants grow.  Keep it close so they don't get too tall to early and fall over.  I think regular bulbs work as well as grow lights.
North of Denver, zone 5-6 depending on the year, which makes front range gardening very difficult.  Some years we could be planting in March and the next year June 1st is still seeing snow.  The rule of thumb is Mother's Day for setting out plants and keeping your fingers crossed.
We are in zone 6 here in MI.  I have been told I start too early,  but I have a greenhouse to keep them in until it is warm enough.  The other thing is that I start more 2 weeks later so I don't have them all get ripe at the same time. 

You said some of your plants did not do well last year,  if any had fungus or parasities you should clean your support cages and spray them with 50/50 bleach.  Let it dry and then rinse it off,  I did this last year and had no problems like I did the year before.
(12-30-2013, 08:57 PM)cep89 Wrote: You said some of your plants did not do well last year,  if any had fungus or parasities you should clean your support cages and spray them with 50/50 bleach.  Let it dry and then rinse it off,  I did this last year and had no problems like I did the year before.
Just an FYI to save a few cents: I was told by a biologist that, for the purposes of disinfecting, 10% bleach is just as effective as higher percentages of bleach.
Here is some good starter info. It is several pages so I only put the 1st page with link.

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Seed Starting Made Simple
Starting seeds indoors is a sure cure for the restlessness that plagues gardeners during the off-season. Just follow these basics steps to prevent mistakes, such as damping off or using the wrong seed starting mix, and watch your seedlings — and your savings — grow.

You’ll love the benefits of growing your own transplants. You can grow unique heirloom selections as well as the best varieties for your garden’s conditions — which will boost your yields and reduce losses to pests, disease and severe weather.
The potential money savings aren’t small potatoes, either. Consider the cost of filling a single 4-by-12-foot bed with purchased transplants — typically selling for $4 to $5 each — versus paying $2 to $3 for a packet of at least 50 seeds. If you grow a big garden, the savings can quickly grow to hundreds of dollars. Indoor seed starting is easy, and the small initial investment in equipment will pay off quickly. Learn how to start seeds indoors with these 11 steps.
1. Sow What? Starting seeds indoors gives you a jump on the growing season, allowing you to harvest heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, peppers and melons earlier and over a longer period of time. (If you have a short growing season, it’s the only way to get mature produce from these crops.) Some cool-weather crops, such as broccoli, also benefit from an indoor start so they have time to mature outdoors in spring or fall, before midsummer heat or winter freezes set in.
Not every crop is a good candidate for indoor seed starting. Beans, peas and root crops should be sown directly in the garden because they don’t transplant well.
2. Seed Matters. Start with high-quality seeds and varieties suited to your region’s conditions. Buy from reputable suppliers who do their own germination tests and, preferably, their own variety trials, advises Steve Solomon, founder of Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove, Ore., and author of Gardening When It Counts. Quality seeds sprout faster and at a higher rate, they grow into stronger seedlings, and they produce more, he says.
Try getting seeds well-adapted to your region from local seed swaps, or you can buy from regional suppliers. Companies that do their own germination tests and field trials usually say so in their catalogs. Most seed companies offer a free catalog, or you can order seeds from their websites. For background on nearly 100 mail-order seed companies, go to our Directory of Companies Offering Mail-Order Seeds and Plants. To search for varieties among a stock of more than 500 seed companies, use our Seed and Plant Finder.
3. Timing Matters. Most beginning seed-starters jump the gun, says Rob Johnston, founder and chairman of Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. Transplants held indoors too long can become root-bound and weak — a setback that makes plants more susceptible to problems outdoors. However, starting seeds too late can mean you miss the optimum growing window. To find out when to start seeds of specific crops in your area, check out our What to Plant Now pages and click on your region.

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I love Mother Earth News
I want to start growing stuff now, only, not until Feb does their chart tell me I can start growing: tomatoes, onions, and asparagus indoors.  Asparagus from seeds is going to take 3 years, sigh, but that will give me about 30 years from that one area.

It will be snowing here in a few hours and I just want to GROW things!!!!
What do you all use to start your seedlings? 
[Image: fiber-grow-72-cell-greenhouse.jpg]
Jiffy Pellets:
[Image: jiffy-7-25-full.jpg]

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Jiffy pots
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Make your own

What does everyone use and how do you do it?  I don't want to pay the high prices of seedlings this year and want to grow them myself.  No I don't have a huge area to do this but we do have some florescent lights that we bought and have never hooked up, that could be used over the area.  

Need some thoughts and ideas as this will be the first time I have tried to grow most or all of my transplants and this also means my flowers, herbs and of course veggies!
Jiffy pots are cheap and effective. I mix all my own soils and a peat moss with some perlite is also great for seedlings. Once they show roots and you transplant, EWC (earth worm castings) top dress does wonders. I have my own worm bins, best organic fertilizer

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