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Indoor Seed Starting? Thin or Transplant?

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quiltbea
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Post  twodaend 3/19/2013, 5:40 pm

This is my first year starting seeds indoors and I was wondering how I should continue. Thus far I have used some 2" jiffy pots and I planted 2 sometime 3 seeds per pot. For example something like sugar snap peas, I planted 2 per pot and for tlurnips, I planted 3 per pot. My problem is that I'm wondering if I should be planting 1 seed per pot or should I just thin them down to 1 per pot.

For example, turnips are planted outside 9 per square. Would it be best to thin them when I'm ready to put them in the ground or possibly transplant them to a larger pot, or should I have just started off with 1 per pot which means I would be using 9 pots instead of 3 maybe 4 pots.

I guess to sum it up, for squares with more than 1 for spacing, how do you space your seeds for indoor starting?

Thanks
twodaend
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Post  Gunny 3/19/2013, 6:17 pm

The book says to plant three seeds at a time in the same spot. So in your case where you planted in jiffy pots, select the best seedling to keep and snip the others so you have only one plant per pot then plant each pot according to plant spacing in your squares. I believe without looking that you would plant nine pea plants per square. There is a chart in the book that tells you how many plants of each verity to plant. When the plants come up, sometimes three in one spot, snip two so only one remains, that will give you the correct spacing. I know it gets confussing and I seem to be learning alot after the fact. So much so I'm considering renaming myself to WrongWay. Have fun and I hope this helps a little.
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Post  Farmer Don 3/19/2013, 10:56 pm

Hi twodaend,

Gunny is right on target with his recommendations. Mel's book says eight peas but I think it's a typo. Probably should have been 9. Mel's system is based upon the numbers 1,2,3 and 4 squared. So 3 squared would be nine. Here's just one extra tip I learned the hard way. Jiffy pots are great, but when you plant them, trim the pot down to where the MM is or even a bit lower. If any part of a peat pot sticks out above the soil level, it acts as a wick and will cause the pot to dry out rapidly. In many instances this will starve the young plant of enough water causing it to wilt and die. Happy gardening! Very Happy
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Post  jazzycat 3/19/2013, 11:50 pm

I don't get this whole thing that gardeners do of "thinning" the crops, or clipping off all but the strongest seedling. I'm new to this, but it seems extremely wasteful to me to just cut those plants. When I started my tomatoes everyone said to plant more seeds than I would need because they wouldn't all come up. Well, they all did, but instead of cutting them I'm separating them.

I'm even doing an experiment on two plants, one had NO leaves on it, not even the cotyledon leaves (it was just a tall stem, but it had good roots), and another one had really tiny, kind of deformed cotyledon leaves (they were started in those tiny peat pots with jiffy seed starting mix). My curiosity got the best of me, and I wondered what would happen if I put them in some rich compost. Would they grow into normal tomato plants? I transplanted them into a bigger pot with some rich composted soil, and they are both growing tomato leaves now. I don't know what will happen, like I said, I'm experimenting, maybe they will die, maybe they will never make any tomatoes, or maybe they will end up being the best plants in the bunch. Who knows?

But I refuse to cut a perfectly good plant, and I had three and even four plants in each pot, and most of them are beautiful, strong plants. I have an over-abundance of them now, so I'll probably end up giving some away to neighbors or friends. Smile
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Post  Coelli 3/20/2013, 12:00 am

When I thin seedlings, they become compost and go back to the earth as it were - so I don't really see it as a waste. Smile
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Post  plantoid 3/20/2013, 10:46 am

Jazzy it is a small problem that most people get for some seeds are rather small for damaged fingers & eyes when trying to sow single.

You are indeed lucky that every seed geerminated aqnd gave you sound plants ..it's not always like that , in fact you seem to be very fortunate having it happen .

I've spent hours and hours with a home made vacuum seed sucker picking up various seeds with the various suction heads and sowing individually each seed in it's own bottomless seed tube . Last year I must have sown well over 600 individual seeds like this .
I get about 93 % success for most of the sown seeds when they are sown for indoor propagation .

For seeds hand sown outside direct in the MM the germination for various reasons out my control is not quite so high ... down to around 86%.

I suspect it is for this reason that Mel suggests to sow two or three seeds per station in the grid square and use a pair of scissors to snip out the weaker plants without disturbing the roots of the strongest plant.
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Post  CapeCoddess 3/20/2013, 11:02 am

Gunny wrote:I know it gets confussing and I seem to be learning alot after the fact. So much so I'm considering renaming myself to WrongWay. Have fun and I hope this helps a little.

rofl

I think most of us could join that WrongWay club, Gunny!

CC
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Post  jazzycat 3/20/2013, 12:15 pm

I understand. It's just difficult for me to intentionally kill something that might become a viable food source for someone else. I don't like to kill things, well, most things, certain insects I have no problem killing, like the giant flying cockroaches that roam the streets here. EEK! affraid But I can't bring myself to intentionally kill plants if they have a chance of surviving and becoming a strong, healthy plant. If I can give some away to a few of my neighbors that I know grow tomatoes, or maybe to one of the community gardens here, then I will feel like I'm doing my part to help bring more local food and sustainability practices to my city.

If I'm successful at this (keeping fingers crossed), next year I might grow plants to sell at the farmer's market. I will know which ones do better here in this climate, so I will have enough knowledge (I think) to help bring more variety here. As it is, the only really GOOD tomatoes I've seen here that are different from the average red or yellow tomatoes are Green Zebras. And I've only seen them as plants being sold at the farmer's market. Nothing else very special though.
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Post  quiltbea 3/20/2013, 12:50 pm

Most thinnings you can eat. Except for the nightshade family, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potato and such, they are edible.
Be sure they are safe to eat, then start eating right from the garden.
If you have greens and lettuces that need thinning, cut them off and toss them into a salad or eat them right then. Radishes, carrots, spinach, beets, turnip greens right into your salad.
I see John Kohler of GrowingYourGreens on utube eating his thinnings on his show all the time. I try to be extra careful but still have a few so that's when I get thinnings. If outdoors, I just let them grow a little bigger, 2-3" tall, and cut them for the salad bowl.
Eat your thinnings and they won't got to waste.
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Post  quiltbea 3/20/2013, 1:12 pm

When it comes to peas, you don't plant them all thru the square but along a double row close to the trellis side. I plant ten per square myself, five beside five. Others plant even more and have done well.
Indoor Seed Starting? Thin or Transplant? Peas_011
Some of mine sprouting.

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Post  twodaend 3/21/2013, 1:35 pm

I started my sugar snap peas 1.5 weeks ago in 2" jiffy pots. Now 2 of my seedlings are starting to outgrow their jiffy pots. I have available some 3" and 5" jiffy pots and I was wondering if I should just go ahead and transplant them to larger pots as they are not scheduled to be transplanted outside for another 2 - 2.5 weeks.

Thanks

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Post  quiltbea 3/21/2013, 3:09 pm

I know that peas don't take kindly to having any root disturbance which is the main reason to start them directly outdoors when its time. Moving them to another larger pot is risky, but I see no other choice for you this year. Its a chance you have to take.
As for mine I started a month ago (2/17) they are so tall I had to do something so I filled a large clay pot, added a tomato cage, some bamboo poles and some twine and I transplanted gently into that. I just couldn't wait any longer to transplant.
Indoor Seed Starting? Thin or Transplant? 03-21-10
My pot almost filled with potting soil and the 10 pea sprouts. I filled the rest with rich compost.
I still wanted really early peas outdoors so I started 10 more seeds in pots on 3/17 and crossing my fingers that my garden is free of snow in the next few weeks.
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Post  Windsor.Parker 3/22/2013, 4:09 pm

quiltbea wrote:... peas don't take kindly to having any root disturbance...
Bea, I'd like to get peas going, but am wondering if you've ever tried starting them in soil blocks or rock wool plugs? I'm leaning toward soil blocks.
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Post  quiltbea 3/22/2013, 6:48 pm

Windsor......I didn't start any in soil blocks only because, as a gift, I was given a couple of seed starter kits with the soil that swells up in the fabric. I had to use them for something. I don't remember what they are called since I never use them. They worked just fine for the peas.
Indoor Seed Starting? Thin or Transplant? 03-03-10
Every seed germinated and I knew I could move them outside without any transplanting in between.
Indoor Seed Starting? Thin or Transplant? 03-08-14
If I were doing them in soil blocks I'd put them in the 2" blocks from the start. That way the only transplanting will be the whole block into the outside garden as was the plan for these. Only one move.
For any crops with touchy roots, I think starting them in 2" blocks are better than the mini ones, again because they don't like root disturbance. I'll do the same for my corn and melons.

Sorry, but I have no experience with rock wool plugs so can't comment.
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Post  Pollinator 3/22/2013, 8:12 pm

jazzycat wrote:I don't get this whole thing that gardeners do of "thinning" the crops, or clipping off all but the strongest seedling. I'm new to this, but it seems extremely wasteful to me to just cut those plants. When I started my tomatoes everyone said to plant more seeds than I would need because they wouldn't all come up. Well, they all did, but instead of cutting them I'm separating them.

Good for you! But I have to note that tomatoes and cole crops transplant very easily - and actually will make better, stouter plants if you do transplant them. Some other crops don't take well to transplanting. So my choice of transplant or thin would depend on what kind of plants.
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Post  jazzycat 3/22/2013, 8:34 pm

I've learned my lesson of planting too many seeds. I won't make that mistake again! LOL I've been waiting to direct sow most of the other stuff into the garden.

Since you mentioned cole crops pollinator, does cabbage grow well indoors? I've been on a purple cabbage kick lately, and Im planning on growing most of my lettuces/greens indoors over the summer.
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Post  Pollinator 3/30/2013, 1:11 pm

jazzycat wrote:Since you mentioned cole crops pollinator, does cabbage grow well indoors? I've been on a purple cabbage kick lately, and Im planning on growing most of my lettuces/greens indoors over the summer.

How much room have you got? Cabbage is a huge plant to grow indoors. I've grown a few in the greenhouse in the fall in 5-gallon pails.
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Post  jjlonsdale 4/17/2013, 4:50 pm

jazzycat wrote:I understand. It's just difficult for me to intentionally kill something that might become a viable food source for someone else. . . . But I can't bring myself to intentionally kill plants if they have a chance of surviving and becoming a strong, healthy plant.

Jazzycat, I am right there with you. I always feel guilty when snipping off seedlings, so much so that next year, for the ones I need to start inside, I'm only going to put one seed per peat pellet or toilet paper tube or whatever I end up using. After all, if it doesn't germinate, I can always stick another seed in there later.

Here's a conversation I had with the boyfriend when I was outdoors with the scissors, miserable, agonizing over which cucmber seedlings to cut:

Me: Who am **I** to decide which ones get to live and which ones die? I shouldn't have the power of life and death like this!

Boyfriend: I can do it if you want.

Me: NO! He who passes the sentence should swing the sword!
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Post  jazzycat 4/17/2013, 6:05 pm

hahaha What a great conversation. Thanks for sharing that jjlonsdale!

I had (still have) such an over-abundance of tomato plants I get to donate a bunch of them for Earth Day. So YAY! It feels good to do something like that. Next year what I will do, is instead of growing so many plants from seed, I will only start a few more than I intend to keep (just in case a couple don't make it, like you said) and then I will root the suckers and give them away for Earth Day. What a Face

I love this place. I get so many ideas from people, and learn so much. And I get to hear amusing tales, like the conversation you had with your boyfriend.
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Post  landarch 4/17/2013, 11:05 pm

I planted way too many tomato seeds this year...was in a zone when it was seeding time, then reality hit when all the little buggers started growing and requiring planning, care, logistics, worry, etc. Live and learn.
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Post  CapeCoddess 4/18/2013, 11:28 am

Oh I have this problem, too. I was actually thinking about building another box today to plant the overflow in. Each time I plant the seeds I think, 'well, there's so many seeds that I'll have no problem cutting any extras down'. But then I can't do it...especially if they are healthy looking. I find myself dividing instead. Like I planted a 6 pack of kale not long ago, went to cut the extras and they were so pretty that I ended up with 26 kale plants. oiy.

On my walk just now I remembered that the community garden on the way to work has a table out front for overflow veggies for anyone to take so maybe I could leave overflow seedlings if I mark what they are.

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