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Starting Seeds for Spring Gardens
#11
@Bulldog11 - what do you put the pots in, trays that is?  Do you use grow lights or special lighting, or just a sunny room? 

I was thinking just the Jiffy pellets for the smaller plants and Jiffy pots for the larger ones.  Really don't want to spend much on trays but not sure what to use to keep the water in?
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#12
I have no idea if this is a reputable source, but these are the trays I use. Only cost $3 at the local nursery. http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/produ...ys-inserts

I do have two T-5 florescent bulbs I use for plant starts. I find it really helps sprout seeds. However, last year I started a bunch of seeds outdoors in a hoop house greenhouse. Worked out really well, and didn't spend anything on electricity.

Another fun way to sprout seeds early outdoors is in a 2-liter bottle. Poke holes in the bottom of the bottle for drainage. (1/8-1/4 inch) Fill up a third of the bottle with seed sprouting soil. Then take a straw and make a little 1/2 inch deep crater for your seed to sit in. Take the same straw and drop seeds down the straw into crater, then fill over the crater with surrounding soil. (wont work with large seeds through straw) Once plant gets bigger, just cut off top of bottle and transplant like normal.

I find I get better results if you bury the 2-liters in your gardens soil to keep warm.
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#13
2-liter greenhouse...now that is an awesome idea.  I could start my seeds, cut off the top and let them just keep on growing.  If they start getting root-bound, you cut off the bottom, slip a new bottle on the bottom and keep stacking as needed.  From what I have read, 3-4 bottle is all that is needed for the bigger plants that have large root systems.
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#14
We have four very distinct seasons here in Transylvania, with extreme cold (-30 to -35F) and occasionally wicked amounts of snow. Summers have highs up near the 90'sF, with humidity to 80% or so. Rain is usually adequate, but there have been some bad moments in the last few years. I start planting out 1 May, though every few years this region is nailed with a nasty frost or hail. After 10 May, gardens are almost guaranteed safe. NOTHING is every guaranteed in gardening.

Right.  Seeds.   Shall we say the goal is to have 8 very healthy tomato plants of a certain type.  Plant 16 at what would be considered the proper time before planting out, to give them time to mature enough.  Plant 16 two weeks earlier, and 16 two weeks later.  Belt and braces, folks. ONE seed per little scruffy piece of newspaper used to hold the soil - no competition between seedlings, and no disturbing them by pinching out the slower one.  Keep the excess plants going until well past the time you could reasonably expect a frost.  That way if a VERY late frost occurs, there will still be plants in reserve to take over immediately.  This plan results in a serious excess of tomato plants to trade with neighbours or to change plans regarding just how many are required.  The rest are for the compost heap.  The planting soil from the unused seedlings can be dumped around other plants.

I make tubes of newspaper, the same as in the photograph above.  BUT, the photograph shows rounds and rounds of newspaper.  Tiny little new seedlings have a hard time pushing through the paper, so the roots will be directed totally down.  Its good if they can spread out too, and the heading deep part can be covered by keeping the paper tubes in a situation where they are NOT watered from above, and afterbeing planted out by watering more, but less frequently.  Use one or two layers of newspaper, no more.  Simply tuck them together to maintain their shape.

Back to those 8 tomato plants.  Cut the top and bottom off eight 2 litre soft drink plastic bottles.  Bury them where the tomatoes will be planted, so each tomato plant has an empty tube near to it.  Once the plants are settled in nicely, start watering the tomato plants by filling the tube, not by pouring water on the soil.  This keeps water off the leaves, uses less water, and directs the water down to where it would be best for the roots to grow.  Do whatever is necessary to never disturb the soil around a seedlings' roots. Make sure stakes go in long before they would disturb roots.  Plant in individual newspaper cylinders, NOT in plastic cups to be tipped out and fingered whilst re-planting.  Make sure the hole where the newspaper cylinder will go has a fair sized hand full of potting soil in it, so the seedling can spread out easily into the same soft soil it was in to germinate.

As the plants start to mature, start pinching off the arms and leaves of areas that will not produce the tomatoes. Every week or so throughout the fruiting time, I nip, trim, pinch and slice off tons of leaves and branches, including the top most after they've grown to good size. By the end of the season, my tomato plants really do look as if someone has taken the shears to them, (somebody HAS!) but they're producing like mad. Make sure those little volunteers in the crutch of stem and branch are pinched out. They grow like wildfire so be atent. Make sure there are no stems or leaves touching the soil. Ever. Water goes into the soft drinks containers, which is great, but it leaves the soil around the plants to dry out. That soil needs to be disturbed regularly and carefully, to allow air to circulate under the surface.

Apropos of cherry tomatoes. They generally mature early and tolerate extremes in temperature. A couple cherry tomato plants will give the impression summer has truly arrived. Two or three of them are great. They will produce tons of tomatoes. Pick them and drop the excess straight into freezer baggies and drop into the freezer. Don't even bother taking off the little bit of top stem. Then throughout the winter there will always be a nice hand full of little tomatoes to add frozen to whatever food is being cooked. They'll hold their shape somewhat, and give a bit of form to the meal. Oh and the stem can be flipped off with a thumbnail before the little frozen beauties are tossed into the pot.
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#15
(02-08-2014, 02:17 AM)Whiteangel Wrote: 2-liter greenhouse...now that is an awesome idea.  I could start my seeds, cut off the top and let them just keep on growing.  If they start getting root-bound, you cut off the bottom, slip a new bottle on the bottom and keep stacking as needed.  From what I have read, 3-4 bottle is all that is needed for the bigger plants that have large root systems.
Maybe, but sounds like WAAAY too much work to me.
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#16
@Ladyfox - to clarify, you don't put your tomato plants inside the bottle tube, just to the outside of it so the water is going down into the soil?? 

Is there a way you can tell me how you make your newspaper "pots". 

Also, to plant out your tomatoes on May 1st, when does that mean you start your seeds indoors? 

We are warming up this coming week which is just making the gardening bug that much harder to deal with.  ApocalypseGuide sent me a few Moringa Olifara seeds, so I will be starting those soon.  The Rabbit Tobacco I was going to wait to plant but going to start one bunch and see what happens.  Those seeds as microscopically small so going to take a tooth pick that is only barely dampened so I can only get a teeny tiny number of seeds (two would be nice).  Don't want to waste them on a trial.
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#17
(02-08-2014, 02:58 PM)Whiteangel Wrote: @Ladyfox - to clarify, you don't put your tomato plants inside the bottle tube, just to the outside of it so the water is going down into the soil?? 

Is there a way you can tell me how you make your newspaper "pots". 

Also, to plant out your tomatoes on May 1st, when does that mean you start your seeds indoors? 

We are warming up this coming week which is just making the gardening bug that much harder to deal with.  ApocalypseGuide sent me a few Moringa Olifara seeds, so I will be starting those soon.  The Rabbit Tobacco I was going to wait to plant but going to start one bunch and see what happens.  Those seeds as microscopically small so going to take a tooth pick that is only barely dampened so I can only get a teeny tiny number of seeds (two would be nice).  Don't want to waste them on a trial.
I plan (hope?) the seeds I start the first week of March will be the plants worth planting the first days of May.  I will be starting some of the first veggies in another week or so here, mostly the vine crops. I have an ultra sunny room in the house and just line up trays of all my seedlings on trestle tables.  The serious and main group will be started first week of March. The 'just in case' crowd will be planted in late March.   It isn't too late to plant out here as late as mid-May.  We had a horrendous storm some years back with huge hail and freezing temperatures following.  It took out everyone's gardens.  I had a good set of most veggies from my just in case third planting, ready to re-plant a few days later when the ground had thawed out from the hail.  The farmers' markets here also had an amazing amount - obviously market gardeners had their just in case plants ready, waiting for exactly something like that big freeze.

I roll a newspaper twice into a tube, with only two layers of paper, then use a straight pin to hold the sides together.  I cut the tube into 2 1/2 inch sections, stuff them with potting soil, put one seed in each one, then tuck them all together into trays so they are sufficiently snug to not fall over.  When its time to plant out, I gently pull the by then starting to rust straight pin out of the newspaper, and plant the little seedling complete with its newspaper right down into a little hole made in a handfull of potting soil wherever I want that plant to grow.  Only two layers of newspapers is VERY delicate, but the seedlings can grow through it faster than more layers, and the tiny little roots aren't disturbed. I LOVE the neat little expandable grow pots.  Fantastic... but expensive.  I use them for the more important plants such as Aubergine and sweet little cherry red peppers.  One of the trade names is Peppadew, but those seeds are very hard to come by.  Incredible veg.  An asset to any meal.  We adore them.   I have 5 seeds.  That's it.  The seeds I stored last autumn somehow got damp and went mouldy.  Only 5 survived so I'll be babying those plants something chronic!!

Back to the tomato plants.  When I prepare the soil for tomatoes, I 'plant' the middle section of say, a 2 1/2 litre cola bottle right down to ground level. (I cut off the very bottom and the funnel part at the top.)  This makes a plastic hollow tube in the soil, going down about 8 inches.  Then I plant out the little seedings, putting them about 4 inches away from a tube - one plant to each tube.  I water the seedings until they have put down decent root systems - generally about three weeks, and from then on only water the plants by filling the tubes with water.  Works a treat - and ALMOST NO WEEDS.  The water soaks down so the plants must put down strong deep roots.  This ensures they have better stability in weather and develop better root systems.  Water doesn't splash up and dirty the leaves or dampen them and make them susceptible to disease.
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#18
I have south facing french doors, all windows like this:
[Image: th?id=HN.608052044982387947&w=159&h=170&...=1&pid=1.7]
I am hoping this will be enough without needing artificial lighting.  There is a heating duct in front of the right window, hoping this will keep them warmer during the cold or cloudy days.  Will will cause too much of a breeze?  Plan to stack the trays in front of the right down, with maybe two feet between levels, so more trays can be facing the direct sun. 

Now I have to figure out how many plants of each I am going to be growing and part of that seems, well a bit overwhelming.  How many will go into my planter?  How many will go into two new raised beds that we are hoping to make this year?  How many bottle plants will we have?  That is now what I need to plan.

Oh, and since I know I will rush the season with fingers crossed, I too will have backups for that late season frost that does happen here. the last two years I could have put plants out in April and been fine. A few years back, we got 3 feet of snow on Memorial Day, so.....hit and miss and you need backups or you will be spending a lot to buy transplants at the store. $3.98 for tomato plants, just one not a 4pak, is ridiculous and the reason I am doing seedlings this year
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#19
Yes, it's time to start seeds here.  I do the paper pots and plug pots. I used some of those dehydrated blocks but found that I needed to cut the little plastic nets off before planting the seedlings as they effectively bonsai the roots and stunt growth.

I often use egg boxes, if you can still get the old style paper/card ones, they can be used just like Jiffy pots and planted with the seedlings. 

My favourite seed trays are the black or dark blue plastic trays that meat is packed in in supermarkets. I make holes in these using a knitting needle heated up in the gas ring or fire. I put these trays inside the clear lidded containers used to pack croissants in, this makes a little covered greenhouse for one or two small trays with enough height for growth.

My garlic is well up, I planted it on the winter solstice, to be harvested on the summer solstice, it is good to have something already growing outside. They are in two raised beds. 

Since it is very wet here we cannot prepare the land. Last year my first lot of seed potatoes floated downstream in a flood. I only planted a few more after that disappointment. 

The globe artichokes have sprung into life and are about 2 ft high with new growth, while the birds are still picking about in the old seedheads still standing. We do not like this veg much but grow a few for the enormous,  spectacular thistle like purple flowers.

I think my garden will be better this year as our tenant wants to share the work for a share of the produce, an offer I could not refuse as things have been getting harder for me. Finally, this year we will cover the two sections of polytunnel to make a greenhouse.....I have only been waiting 12 years, the frame has been there for 8!!

I have made my garden plan, sorted my seed packs into a box with dividers for which seeds are to be planted each month, and most of all I am excited that spring is on the way, but have to keep in mind how everyone was caught out three years ago when we had snow on May 5th.
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#20
(02-08-2014, 05:40 PM)Whiteangel Wrote: I have south facing french doors, all windows like this:
[Image: th?id=HN.608052044982387947&w=159&h=170&...=1&pid=1.7]
I am hoping this will be enough without needing artificial lighting.  There is a heating duct in front of the right window, hoping this will keep them warmer during the cold or cloudy days.  Will will cause too much of a breeze?  Plan to stack the trays in front of the right down, with maybe two feet between levels, so more trays can be facing the direct sun. 

Now I have to figure out how many plants of each I am going to be growing and part of that seems, well a bit overwhelming.  How many will go into my planter?  How many will go into two new raised beds that we are hoping to make this year?  How many bottle plants will we have?  That is now what I need to plan.

Oh, and since I know I will rush the season with fingers crossed, I too will have backups for that late season frost that does happen here. the last two years I could have put plants out in April and been fine. A few years back, we got 3 feet of snow on Memorial Day, so.....hit and miss and you need backups or you will be spending a lot to buy transplants at the store. $3.98 for tomato plants, just one not a 4pak, is ridiculous and the reason I am doing seedlings this year
What a lovely room!
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