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Starting seeds? Toplef10Starting seeds? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Starting seeds? I22gcj10Starting seeds? 14dhcg10

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Starting seeds?

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Starting seeds? Empty Starting seeds?

Post  jseyfert3 3/17/2015, 7:43 pm

Hello all,

Three quick questions. First time doing SFG, first time starting seeds. I'm planning on getting types of seeds going here really soon, as it's 7 weeks to last frost this Friday, according to victoryseeds.com/frost (which was recommended in the book).

Reading on the web, windows are not enough light for seedings. So I picked up a two 10 inch reflector lights and two 40 W (true wattage, 150 W incandescent equivalent) CFL lights. The lights 2600 lumens each, and they only came in soft white (2700 K). Is soft white okay or is cool white preferred? I don't know how much it matters, I can't remember all the details from picking the 6500 K light I have on my aquarium but I know at least some of that was preference for how it would look. Unlike a planted aquarium, I obviously I don't care how the seedlings look for a few weeks before I move them outside. Very Happy

Secondly, how long should the lights be on? I was originally thinking somewhere around 12 hours, but one of my seed packages (oregano) says 14-16 hours a day.

Finally, growing medium. The Book says to start in vermiculite then move to Mel's Mix when sprouted. Why start in vermiculite until sprouted and not just start in Mel's Mix?

Your answers are appreciated. Maybe I'll get some seeds started finally tonight or tomorrow. I've had them sitting around for a week already. Those that it is time to start are: Cauliflower, celery, endive, lettuce, onion, parsley, bell and hot peppers, and two types of tomatoes.
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Post  sanderson 3/18/2015, 2:18 am

jseyfert, There are several ways to start seeds, a tray of vermiculite is just one. The pro is that you can start your whole garden in one large tray, transplanting only the sprouted seedlings to individual cups. The con is that you have to transfer them to the individual cups. Very Happy I think most folks here just start off in cups, with MM or potting soil of some type. Others used peat or soil blocks. Here's just one of many treads on starting seeds. https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t17400-no-more-potting-soil-for-me?highlight=potting+soil

Boffer did an experiment on the hours of lights for seedlings. I can't remember the post title but I did increase my light time to 14 hours on a timer.

I just use cheap shop lights, T8, so I can't help you on this question. have you tried your key words in the search box to the upper left? There are so many discussions about starting seeds.

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Post  Dunkinjean 3/18/2015, 4:07 pm

This my first time growing plants from seeds. I am growing 6 kinds of tomatoes and 2 kinds of peppers. I used a Burpee 72 cell that came with a tray, water mat and cover. 
Most of my plants came up and I potted them into either styrofoam cups I had on supply or paper coffee cups into a mixture of vermiculite and peat moss.
My husband built me a 3 tier stand with wood shelves and I am hanging the florescent lights by adjustable chains for height.
I switch all the plants around once a week so the plants don't tilt in any direction.
So far so good!
Just loving it.
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Post  plantoid 3/18/2015, 4:54 pm

Using fine grade vermiculite has several advantages that I can think of .

(1)
There is usually enough nutrient in water alone for seeds to germinate and grow up a bit so it uses all the goodness in the seed body . This is how nature designed the seeds so that they can survive in a massive range of conditions.

(2) This use itself up first  helps prevent seeds growing lanky /bolting due to too much nutrient being present .

(3)
MM is full of all manner of bacteria , moulds & fungi ..most of it beneficial to growing rooted plants , however those very same bacteria moulds and fungi can attack newly sprouted seed forms and cause them to rot away , especially if the MM is a tad too damp .

 Vermiculite is inert and almost sterile so there is a much reduced problem of seed rot etc.
 Inert
IE.
It has no nutrients to speak off and it is basically neutral having almost neither acidic or alkaline properties therefore  most seeds can easily germinate in it without side effects .
Consequently we do not it need to do soil tests on the vermiculite to find out what chemicals are in it  to see if it is suitable for the vast majority of  seed germination , this applies anywhere in the world .

( 4 )
Vermiculite is basically a light weight absorbent material that has lots & lots of air filled cells in it . This is very advantageous for all plants have hair roots  and these need oxygen to help the plant to grow .. this is why  it's difficult to grow seeds & plants in thick sticky dense clay .

(5)
The water moves in & around vermiculite either from submersion if there is a lot or  up through  the material  by capillary action.
 Due to the properties of the vermiculite consisting scales of mica , the air spaces and the lightness of it , its capillary action can lift water very effectively through it far better height than MM does . I'd guess that it can lift moisture at least a two or more feet with ease.

(6)
The ability to lift moisture & dissipate / spread it very evenly & lightly through a pot of it is rather unique to vermiculite and of great advantage to us seed sowers for it means that the top surface has a moisture blanket & is constantly giving off moisture like a small wick , this is   ideal for seed germination.
MM on the other hand can often have wetter that other parts due to the varied nature of the composted materials & the size of particles /lumps in it.

( 7)
It is possible to 1/4  fill a seed pot with MM and top up with fine vermiculite and sow several  seeds in that , this allows the seedling to slowly adapt the the higher nutrient in the lower level .
 Once big enough / ready to plant out , simply use an empty plant pot of the same size , scrape a hole in the bed of MM ,  set the empty plant pot in the hole and back fill around the empty pot .  Now extract the empty pot and decant the  growing plant into the hole you made when you took the empty pot out , water it in well .

 It helps if the plant your going to transplant is not sopping wet  slip a finger either side of the pant stem invert the pot give it a sharp tap on the side of the plant pot .... this should see it come out very easily without disturbing the root ball.


 I have been using  processed coir waste to dilute my MM usually around 4 parts of coir to one part of MM & filling 1 & 1/4 " dia small tubes with the mixture gently tamping it firm and then inserting a big thick pencil to make a small cone shaped hole , I fill this hole with a fine horticultural grade vermiculite and sow individual seeds in the middle then sprinkle a very light covering over he seed, stand the tubes in seed trays filled with just under  2 " of water when all the tubes are in the tray for a couple of hours for the capillary action to get going. I then put the trays of tubes in my heated LED lit grow bed to germinate

Once the seeds have germinated  they are taken out grow bed as they are discovered , reset in clean seed trays and brought into the glasshouse for there is no need to keep them in the grow bed thus freeing the grow bed  up for other seeds .

 You can also do as is suggested in Mel's book & germinate in vermiculite then very carefully transplant the mini seedlings by lifting a teaspoon of the MM around & including the seedling  wwithout damaging the microscopically fine hair roots into the MM bed or a ppant pot so long as you do it in the shade and the air is not bone dry . Obviously you'll need to do some serious watering for a day or so till the plant gets established .
 Too much sun and dry air  will either kill or knock th seedling back a lot .
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Post  quiltbea 3/18/2015, 6:54 pm

My lighting needs were easy to keep.  I turned them on when I let out the dogs for their morning nature call at seven am and then shut them off when I let them out for their final romp at night, eleven pm.  I don't need a timer.
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Post  landarch 3/20/2015, 3:20 pm

I have some really nice 4' T5 grow lights (four lamps per fixture)...but the fixture puts out some much heat that my seed mix can dry out during the day. 

I also have really cheap 4' shop lights (comes with plug-in chord) maybe $10 each that I use a lot...I can see no noticeable difference in plants from the expensive lights/bulbs and the cheap lights.

In terms of seed starting, go with the cheapest sterile material you can find...vermiculite is good...I found 8 qt. bags of Burpee Organic Seed Starting Mix on sale at Menards earlier in the year for $1.50 (normally $3.50)...then I pot up into doctored Mels Mix after true leaves set (Mels Mix with additional vermiculte, and Happy Frog organic compost with mycorrhizae.
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Post  jseyfert3 3/23/2015, 6:30 pm

Thanks for the info all!

Based on the feedback, I decided to go with just vermiculite, and transfer them over to individual cells of the tray I got once they sprout. Another year I may experiment with direct start in Mel's Mix or part vermiculite, part Mel's Mix but it sounds like I can't go wrong with just vermiculite.

I'll set my light timer to 14 hours a day. Hopefully in a week or so I'll have some pictures of seedlings to post!
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Post  jseyfert3 3/25/2015, 8:10 am

Another quick question and I think I'll be good (yeah, right!). Very Happy 

The seed starting tray I got has lots of little spaces. I filled out nine of them with vermiculite and watered from the bottom by filling the lower tray with 1/4 - 1/2" of water. Then I puts some seeds (multiples of the same type in each little area, which will be separated into their own cells in MM once they sprout) on the top and covered by a small layer of vermiculite.

Do I keep this water in the tray? That's what I've done since I planted the seeds. Or do I dump it out and just keep them wet by misting or daily watering?

What about when I switch the seedlings over to their own cells with MM? I hear water from the bottom. Do I keep standing water in the lower tray, or add water, let sit for 45 minutes, and dump till the next day?
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Post  slimbolen99 3/25/2015, 10:22 am

jseyfert: You don't want water standing in the container more than 30 minutes to an hour. I would dump out any excess. I prefer watering from the bottom, and allowing the soil to soak up the water, and discarding any extra (again, after 30 to 60 minutes).

Here's a thread I put together a few weeks ago...there's also some very good info from other folks as well.

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t9532p32-stands-for-grow-lights#216603
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Post  jseyfert3 3/25/2015, 5:58 pm

Wow, I came home today and look at this. A single celery sprout, and the package said 14-21 days!

Starting seeds? 16929235782_bfd5ed7639_c1st Celery...After Only Two Days! by jseyfert3, on Flickr

And the next hex over, look at all that lettuce! Package said 7-14 days, it's been just two days at this point!

Starting seeds? 16742857838_4a3cf200fb_c
Lettuce Popping Up Like Crazy...2 Days After Planting! by jseyfert3, on Flickr

I'm excited! bounce

I'll have to whip up a batch of Mel's Mix now. At this rate I'm guessing I'll have to move them to Mel's mix tomorrow. When the first leaves pop out, right?

This is my "rough" seed starting setup. I turned my light on this morning but didn't expect to have sprouts by the time I got home from school today, or for a few more days!

Starting seeds? 16308150094_7b6964d042_c
Current "Rough" Seed Starting Setup by jseyfert3, on Flickr
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Post  AtlantaMarie 3/26/2015, 10:34 am

How EXCITING!  Starting seeds? 3170584802

You'll want to wait until they get their first TRUE leaves.  These leaves popping up now are just to get the chlorophyll pumping.  The next set of leaves will be true leaves.
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Post  quiltbea 3/26/2015, 1:07 pm

And when transplanting the little guys, hold them by the leaves, not the stem.
The stem has vital circulation which can be impeded if you grasp the stem.
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Post  Dunkinjean 3/26/2015, 11:36 pm

When I potted up seedlings I made a mixture of vermiculite and peat moss.
I then set the pots into large aluminum trays and watered into the trays in the bottom.
Then put them on shelving with overhead fluorescent lights. I was concerned with no compost in the mixture but they are doing great.
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Post  jseyfert3 4/3/2015, 9:33 am

Update: Everything so far has sprouted, and the lettuce now has one true leaf per plant, of various sizes. I'll try to remember to start a thread with more pictures and future progress but I'm pretty busy right now.

Starting seeds? 16396833224_7d33c8c41d_c
As of April 4th by jseyfert3, on Flickr
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Post  sanderson 4/3/2015, 2:04 pm

Nice!

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Post  donnainzone5 4/5/2015, 4:12 pm

Woo Hoo!

On Thursday, I started a tray of seeds under light indoors. 

Three of the broccoli seeds are already up!   Very Happy
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Post  AtlantaMarie 4/6/2015, 1:00 pm

Awesome!!
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Post  Goosegirl 4/6/2015, 7:14 pm

cheers cheers cheers
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Post  donnainzone5 4/6/2015, 9:18 pm

Some of the cantaloupe seeds sprouted this morning!  And I think I see a couple of onions poking their wee heads up....

My greenhouse needs some shelving but is otherwise ready when I need it, probably during the next few weeks.
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Post  quiltbea 4/6/2015, 11:13 pm

My kalettes are sprouting and most of my tomato seeds under the lights.
Starting seeds? 04-06-14
Kalettes are doing very well.


Starting seeds? 04-06-15
Tomato seeds 10 days after sowing them in cell packs.
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Post  Dunkinjean 4/7/2015, 11:38 am

Looking good Quiltbea!
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