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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Seed Starting!!  Toplef10Seed Starting!!  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.

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Seed Starting!!

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Post  ModernDayBetty 1/8/2012, 4:10 pm

I'm so excited! I ordered a Hydrofarm grow light last night. I had a very hard time starting seeds last year and this was on my wish list. I gave in and ordered it. I'm so very excited. My seed starting dates aren't until the beginning of February but I think I'm going to start a little indoor herb garden right away when it come next week.

Any advice welcome! I'll be perusing the site for past posts on indoor seed starting this week. This year it's going to go so much better, bye bye leggy plants!
ModernDayBetty
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Post  martha 1/8/2012, 5:55 pm

you grow, girl!
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Post  RoOsTeR 1/8/2012, 6:11 pm

Nice light setup. New toys are always fun!
I have a little indoor herb going:
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Post  Ha-v-v 1/8/2012, 7:09 pm

Nice set up there NR Smile I like that

I like that link Modern, so nice to get a head start on nature Smile

Helps us to be spring minded all winter long Smile
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Post  rocketman1701 1/9/2012, 1:53 am

One of the best things is you can lower the light to 2" above the plant without burning it.
I have one and I love it. Use it with a heat mat and you are talking some serious grow!
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Post  quiltbea 1/9/2012, 2:00 pm

I could never get my seeds started before getting a heat mat and track lights with daylight bulbs. Now I start enough with some leftovers for our local community gardeners and to donate to the library plant sales (to buy more books).

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I hope you find them as good an investment as me. Good luck and enjoy.
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Post  LaborDay RN 1/9/2012, 2:09 pm

quiltbea: Great pictures! Your seedlings look so healthy! Is the heat mat that you are referring to specific to plants? Would I find it at a nursery? Also, the daylight bulbs, are they grow lights or just regular bulbs. I have a shelving unit that I'm going to use and I was planning on using florescent bulbs.
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Post  plantoid 1/9/2012, 2:40 pm

There are some rather new on the scene LED lights that have blue & red grow colours in them they use a fraction of power of the fluro lights & should work effectively for many many years .

They are quite robust compared to a fluroescent tube and can be rolled up on their cables rather than having to find a safe place to lay or stand the fluro unit & tube. Having broken goodness knows how many fluro tubes in my life and nowadays having to take safety precautions in getting the powder inside the tube cleaned up , I'd offer that if your starting out with overhead grow light you'd do well to consider the new multi coloured LED grow lamps instead

I found them on eBay UK under the title of " LED grow lights "
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Post  eflan 1/9/2012, 4:52 pm

I found a really neat link (that I'm not allowed to post) when looking up those LED lights. Think I might have to make a trip back to Wal-Mart's 75% off isles and rig up something like this.

It was posted January 1st 2009 on a blog called "the cheap vegetable gardener" and it's titled "Cheap LED Light and Grow Box". Go to their homepage - it's the most popular article.
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Post  quiltbea 1/9/2012, 8:28 pm

LaborDayRN....I went to Lowe's and got a couple of 4' long shop lights that hold 2 bulbs each. Then to the fluorescent counter for the bulbs that say 'daylight' on the end. They are in with the regular fluorescents. Two tubes for about six bucks and they last seven years but with only using them early spring they should last a lot longer, I'm thinking.

The heat mat I got online for plants. You can just google plant heat mats and find them. They are around $25 or $29 each. Germinating seeds don't need light or a sunny windowsill (lettuce is an exception and needs light to germinate), but they need heat so I only use mine for the very start of my seeds in their 3/4" soil blocks for germinating, then those blocks go under the lights. I don't have to use the heat mat at that point. I use it only for germinating seeds.

I start mine is seed blocks that can be dropped right into the next size soil blocks when they need upgrading, without any root disturbance. For the larger plants I then put the mid-size soil blocks into my homemade air-pruning pots made from 2- and 3-litre sode bottles.

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Photo above: Here are some tomato seedlings in their air-pruning pots under my lights. I hope some of this is helpful.
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Post  ModernDayBetty 1/9/2012, 9:57 pm

Instead of buying a heat mat you can also use the top of your fridge. But what I learned last year is that they need to be on the fridge during the day, off at night, to mimic heating and cooling. (A heat mat would be on 12 hours off 12). I'm still using the top of the fridge, slowly but surely I'll have a full set up.

On my next trip to the Seattle area I want to get this Ikea Hyllis Shelving Unit. I think I could eventually buy three sets of 2 ft long florescent lights for it... or someday go with the LED. I'm thinking there's got to be be a way to drill holes through the metal to attach the lights and have a chain to adjust height.
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Post  LaborDay RN 1/9/2012, 11:03 pm

Plantoid: Thanks for the info! I found the lights are referring to on the U.S. Ebay as well. Sounds like a great option.

Elfan: I found the site you are referring to. What a need idea? Do you think it works?? I'll post the link for you.
http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2009/01/cheap-led-light-and-grow-box.html

quiltbea: wow...you explained it quite well! That's exactly what I needed to know. Thanks so much!

ModernDayBetty: I was thinking about using the top of my fridge also, then I remembered a little used shelf out in the garage. Hopefully all I need to start will fit well on the shelves. It looks like you should be able to drill holes through the unit from Ikea to attach the lights! Very Happy




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Post  walshevak 1/10/2012, 8:30 am

Well darn, and here I bypassed the LED lights to get the old fashioned C9 lights to heat my hoop house. (and didn't use because my exterior outlets are not working) Oh well, next Christmas. In the meantime, I have a Jiffy seed starting set up (small) and a good south facing window. And a new plastic greenhouse that I will put the C9 lights into for use when we are at the light frost but not killing freeze stage for my seedlings. By then I hope to have my outlets repaired.

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Post  littlesapphire 1/10/2012, 9:25 am

Last year, I bought this hot house with heat mat on Amazon to start my seeds, and it worked really well! I liked this one because the roof is really tall so you can keep your tomatoes or peppers in there without squishing their heads against the roof. Then I bought some plant tubes at the hardware store and put them in the workbench light in our basement. Then I got some cardboard boxes to put under the hot house so it was as close to the light as possible, and I hung some foil down the sides so the plants got as much of the light as possible. They got the tiniest bit leggy, but otherwise it worked really well.
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Post  BackyardBirdGardner 1/10/2012, 9:31 am

As for heat mats, I plug mine into the timer with the lights to simulate daylight and warmth. This triggers a "rest" cycle in my seedlings at night, and virtually stopped the "legginess" I was having issues with last spring.

Staf74 turned me onto this article last winter, and it's quickly become one of my favorite links to recommend. Looks like it's time to pop it in here again.

http://www.hillgardens.com/seeds-whats-wrong.htm
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Post  ModernDayBetty 1/15/2012, 10:23 pm

Yippie! I got my light on Friday. I got home after work to the long long box in the living room and jumped for joy! Well, it turns out, 4 feet is a lot longer than I had pictured in my mind. (it's actually 4' 3'' long) It took forever to fit it in some where... The final place was the dinning room table. Not ideal. There's just enough space for two people to sit down and eat off of the slightly potting soil dusted table now. I got a bunch of herbs started for a window sill garden, I started some lettuces in a pot, also for the window sill when it's big enough to eat off of, 6 tomato sets (2 each of 3 types of early tomatoes) as an experiment, and finally, I places my orchard under it to get it to rebloom.

I'm so excited I can't wait for the first week of February when I can really get to work planting more stuff for the garden! ~dreaming of lying in the sun with dirt in my nails~
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Post  Furbalsmom 1/16/2012, 12:52 am

ModernDayBetty wrote:The final place was the dinning room table. Not ideal. There's just enough space for two people to sit down and eat off of the slightly potting soil dusted table now.

The funny thing is I have memories of the same situation. This year my set up is in the dining room, but up against a wall. The only modification I had to make was moving the dining table partly into the living room so I had plenty of room to get to my seedling station. Embarassed
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Post  ModernDayBetty 1/16/2012, 1:03 am

ModernDayBetty wrote: I places my orchard under it to get it to rebloom.

Orchid... obviously I don't have a miniature orchard on my dinning room table (or should I say unfortunately?)

Furbal's Mom, It's kind of a pain isn't it? But it's just so nice to have it set up. I keep walking by and think, oh the sun is still out? Weird. lol, I'll get used to it, plus it's only a few months and then we'll be eating a wonderful bounty in our dinning rooms!
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Post  RoOsTeR 1/16/2012, 8:04 am

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Post  jkahn2eb 1/16/2012, 9:10 am

Here is my simple operation using three hoods, each with two daylight fluorescent bulbs. Nothing fancy for $30.

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Growing for myself and several other friends. Doing my best to keep lights within 2 inches of top leaves. The bulbs aren't too hot so is it ok not to panic when the leaves touch the bulbs?

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Lots of tomatoes. The Vorlons are my fastest growers, followed by red cherry and black cherry tomatoes.

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Post  Red-Leg 1/16/2012, 9:41 am

jkahn - Did you start those as seedlings and transplant into the cups or did you start them right in the cups?
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Post  jkahn2eb 1/16/2012, 9:44 am

All were started in vermiculite and then I grabbed 'em by the ears and yanked 'em hard... just like a 1950's school teacher. Transferred them into Mel's Mix and all seem to be happy. 100% survival so far.
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Post  Red-Leg 1/16/2012, 10:06 am

Okay, perfect. First timer here and that was my plan.

Thanks!
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Post  HunkieDorie23 1/16/2012, 6:55 pm

jkahn2eb wrote:All were started in vermiculite and then I grabbed 'em by the ears and yanked 'em hard... just like a 1950's school teacher. Transferred them into Mel's Mix and all seem to be happy. 100% survival so far.



OK I need to learn more about vermiculite. Is this because it holds more liquid so that the seedling would dry out before you transplant? I like to start my seeds then transplant so I don't have empty cups/planters. I have never garden with vermiculite.
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Post  Red-Leg 1/16/2012, 6:59 pm

HunkieDorie23 wrote:
jkahn2eb wrote:All were started in vermiculite and then I grabbed 'em by the ears and yanked 'em hard... just like a 1950's school teacher. Transferred them into Mel's Mix and all seem to be happy. 100% survival so far.



OK I need to learn more about vermiculite. Is this because it holds more liquid so that the seedling would dry out before you transplant? I like to start my seeds then transplant so I don't have empty cups/planters. I have never garden with vermiculite.

Teresa,

You need to borrow your brother's book. Very Happy Vermiculite is a key component in the SFG method.

If you click on the Home link at the top of the page, you'll see a "Hover" tab on the top left. Hover over that and click the link regarding Mel's Mix. (I believe it's the first one.)
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