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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Can you start seeds outside? Toplef10Can you start seeds outside? 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.

Can you start seeds outside? I22gcj10Can you start seeds outside? 14dhcg10

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Can you start seeds outside?

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Can you start seeds outside? Empty Can you start seeds outside?

Post  SoCalET 7/28/2011, 6:43 pm

Hi All,
I'm sure there are a ton of seed starting posts already here, but after searching for a bit couldn't find what I was looking for.

As my screen name indicates, I'm in Southern California. I'm pretty coastal, meaning cool summers, mild winters, no frost. I keep reading about starting seeds indoors, but I don't have anywhere inside that I think is a good location. My wife likes things in our house "just so" and I don't think I could convince her that we should add a tray of dirt and seeds to the living room.

So, I understand that there are certain seeds that should be sown directly. But I'm wondering about the vegetables that benefit from starting from seed and transplanting (tomatoes, eggplant, broc, etc.)

I would love to start from seed (especially tomato, given the expanded range of varieties that are available from seed vs local nursery transplant). But I would likely be starting my seeds outdoors. Will this work? If so, how should I do it? Margarine tub full of vermiculite? Do I need a cover/shade/direct sun?

This seed stuff blows my mind.
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Post  boffer 7/28/2011, 7:05 pm

I've tried germinating inside, and I just can't get into it. I've recently direct planted 75 broccoli seeds that are about two inches tall after just a week. I may have to use some shade cloth; we'll see.

This time of year in most climates, starting inside is advantageous because it's cooler. If you can keep your soil temps under 75-80ish, you should be able to direct seed in your MM.

In the spring, I heat the MM with soil heating cables to germinate seeds and to get a head start with warm crop seedlings from the nursery. Search for heated hoop houses or H3s.
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Post  SoCalET 7/28/2011, 7:13 pm

So, are you saying that you don't do paper towels, margarine tubs, yogurt cups, etc.?

All seeds just go right into the SFG?
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Post  boffer 7/28/2011, 7:37 pm

LOL I was planting all kinds of seeds in MM for a couple years before I even knew about that other stuff.

When we got a new house, it came with in-ground irrigation system, and newly hydro-seeded lawn, and instructions to water 2-3 times a day in order to keep the seed moist. It was no skin off my nose to water 3x a day. The grass sprouted in 4 days. I'd never seen anything like it.

I took the concept to the sfg boxes and watered 3 times a day. If the soil is warm, seeds germinate in a few days. The secret is to keep the seeds moist. I have a misting nozzle that dampens the top of the MM without forcefully pushing the seeds around and into other squares.

The only issue I've ever had germinating seeds in MM, is when I used some extra course vermiculite. The size of the vermiculite pieces made it hard to cover the seeds, yet not bury them to deep.

Truth is, I'm fairly ignorant about sterile soil, potting mixes, etc., so maybe there are important reasons to use them. I just haven't had the need.

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Post  Mamachibi 7/28/2011, 11:27 pm

Boffer, do you think having some finer grained vermiculite on hand for seed starting would be a good idea?
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Post  SoCalET 7/29/2011, 2:09 am

Thanks for the comments. I'm going to get some seeds into my MM. Not sure if this is a good time, but then I'm not sure we really have a "bad" time around here.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 7/29/2011, 3:56 pm

@SoCalET wrote:...but then I'm not sure we really have a "bad" time around here.

This.

I doubt you will ever need to start indoors unless you just want to for experimentation's sake.
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Post  SoCalET 7/29/2011, 5:21 pm

@BackyardBirdGardner wrote:
@SoCalET wrote:...but then I'm not sure we really have a "bad" time around here.

This.

I doubt you will ever need to start indoors unless you just want to for experimentation's sake.

Thanks, that comment is actually really helpful. My Dad is a lifelong gardener, and I have learned a lot from him. But he is sort of a classic "doer" rather than teacher. So, I learn from him by watching more than anything. I never remember seeing him start seeds indoors, so the idea is pretty foreign to me. In the last couple of months since starting my first garden, I have picked up about a half a dozen books on gardening form the library and they all talk about starting seeds indoors. It just didn't resonate with me.

I may try some experimentation with different methods, like the yogurt cups, margarine tubs, or even buying commercial trays like Jiffy. But they'll all remain outdoors.
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Post  boffer 7/29/2011, 5:35 pm

It's almost time for the first of the month updates. Watch for a post from your Regional Host, Chopper. She does year round gardening and usually posts what is appropriate to be planting.

She's a little farther south than you; you'll have to decide about the weather differences.
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Post  Chopper 7/30/2011, 7:37 am

Most veggies I stick the seed right into the ground and I am pretty sure you can do the same with tomatoes, although I always just buy plants from the nursery being bizarrely impatient for a gardener, but that is the one thing I might give some extra care to. Especially if you want to start nice and early.

If you do want to start your tomatoes early you might want to do a little pvc pipe hoop house in one of your boxes to help warm the soil. I grow year round and I do not plant anything indoors nor does anything get any special care other than the luxury of MM.
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