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Seed Germination: I could use some ideas please

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Amos55
Lake, MI

March 20, 2010
1:55 PM

Post #7643570

This is my set up for my seedlings. They are hanging in there but not growing and looking like they should. The house temp is set at 60 and there is no humitdy so I have put the rocks and water in a saucer with the fan blowing on low on them.

The peat pots dry out so quick, should I have them in a saucer of water or something?

Some seedlings like my tomatoes can be transpanted into a small pot soon. Can they go into a window untill I start up my greenhouse the first of April? I have other seedling ready to come off the heating mat and they need the growing lights.

Sorry for all the questions but this is my first go with seeds. And I know this is the place to go for answers:-)

Thanks for all your help and advice you might have for me

Amos

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trc65
Galesburg, IL

March 20, 2010
2:25 PM

Post #7643605

Amos, I'll offer my two cents worth and others will chime in as well.

Peat Pots: Personally, I don't care for peat pots for one of the reasons you mentioned, they tend to wick the water away from plants and dry out quickly. They also don't always break down in the soil as quick as I would like. I use either plastic cell packs or 2.5" plastic pots for everything I grow. Having said that, do not let them sit in a saucer of water or you will water log and kill your plants. When they need watering, put them into a container of water and when they are saturated, remove them and put them on something to let excess water drain away.

Tomatoes will probably be okay in a window until April, be sure to rotate them daily so they grow evenly. Also, keeping them cool will slow down growth, help promote root growth and thick sturdy stems.

Keeping the florescent light within a couple of inches of the plants will also improve your plants. With all the different heights of plants you have, raise some of the smaller ones with books/ boxes or what ever you have around.

Finally, while keeping a fan lightly blowing on plants can help increase stem thickness and strength, it is probably not needed with your cool house temps. The fan is probably contributing to your peat pots drying out quickly as well. Although you would think that rocks and water in pan will help increase humidity, it usually doesn't unless your whole system is enclosed. The small amount of water evaporating is nothing when you consider the volume of air in your house. The only time that rocks/water help increase humidity for plants is when the plant itself is sitting on top of the rocks, and any air flow around the plant will very quickly reduce the humidity to that in the rest of the house.

From your picture, I'd say you are doing a good job, just get those small plants closer to the lights.

blomma

blomma
Wyoming, WY
(Zone 4a)

March 20, 2010
4:17 PM

Post #7643781

I agree with trc65 so really can't add much more except to say that ones seeds germinate, remove them from the heat mat. They don't need it anymore.

I too don't like peat pots for the same reason stated above. The one time I did use them, I placed them together in a seeding flat to slow down their drying out. I have also enclosed the pots in sandwitch bags after punching holes in the bottom of the plastic. That also slowed down them drying out.

If your tomato plants become large, just plant them deeper in the soil. They will root all along the stem underground. Be sure to harden off your plants by putting them on an east location with early morning sun and gradually move them to stronger sunlight while still in their pots.

Below is what I used to harden off plants and protect against late frost. It is a 1 gallon milk container. A dowel keeps it from blowing away. You can cut the door smaller and enlarge as the plant grows. It gives the plant light, but protects against direct sun while it adjusts to the outdoors. LIke a mini greenhouse.

For being a first-time sower, you did good.

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LeBug
Greenville, IN
(Zone 6a)

March 21, 2010
5:16 PM

Post #7646360

That's cool blomma I'll have to make note of that!

ROSES_R_RED

ROSES_R_RED
Mount Bethel, PA
(Zone 6a)

March 22, 2010
6:16 AM

Post #7647358

That's really very innovative, Blomma. I might do that for something very special. I have so many seeds started everywhere that I couldn't do that for all.

The seeds that I started on my windowsill in their "mini greenhouses" are doing quite in their southern exposure with nothing more that a partial baster (turkey) of water from me. Once in a while I spray them with a week solution of medicinal hydrogen peroxide to prevent some disease. Someone told me to water with a strong solution of camomile tea that has steeped for 20 min then cooled.

The winter sowed seeds are the greatest and are sprouting like crazy outside in their milk cartons with absolutely no help from me.

The seeds inside in the basement under lights have no fan and are also doing very well.

Once in a while I run my hand gently over all the seedlings and give them a good spray (which I was told would toughen them up),

So many different views, but more than one of them works.

Maybe we can see some pictures of what's happening, Amos.

Good luck,

Teri

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pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

March 22, 2010
1:59 PM

Post #7648358

I have heard that either a fan or running something over the top (I think the article I read mentioned using a rolled up newspaper baton) is supposed to help with thickening the stems and helping with "legginess". I haven't tried a fan. I have used a heated propagation mat - the water use for that flat went way up, I have to check it twice a day - so I only use it for seeds that really like warm temps and get them off it as soon as they sprout.
Amos55
Lake, MI

March 23, 2010
6:44 AM

Post #7649880

My plants are hanging in there but they are lacking something. Maybe I am letting them stay on the dry side or the temp in my house.

I have been talking them out to the greenhouse when it warms up to 65 and in the early eveing I bring them back in and put them under the lights again. They just seem to look better better when they are in the nice warm gh.

I have used diluted 20 20 20 fertilizer on the seedlings with the second set of leaves.

I am going out of town for a few days. I will be relying on Hubby to take care of my seedlings, I was trying to think if there was a way to take them with me. Crazy thinking I know. When I return I am going to try to get the greenhouse up and running.

Teri I love your mini greenhouses that is such a good idea. When do you take the tops off them? What are you growing in them also?

Thanks for your ideas

Amos

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trc65
Galesburg, IL

March 23, 2010
10:23 AM

Post #7650452

Amos55, If that fan I see in your greenhouse is on and blowing on the seedlings, I would either turn it off or point it away from the seedlings. They really only need a small amount of airflow to strengthen them, and constant blowing on them will do nothing except dry them out and beat them up.

BTW, I'm jealous of your greenhouse, all I have is a small cold frame that only holds about eight 1020 flats.
Amos55
Lake, MI

March 23, 2010
4:23 PM

Post #7651121

Trc,

Because the weather up north Michigan is not very warm I go out and sit in the greenhouse and read. I am trying to figure out how to run a phone line out to it so I can use my lap top at the table in the GH. (Because all we can get is dial up in the woods) So I look at my two little flats often. But that is a good idea and will pay attention. I run the fan on them all day long.

How many flats do you have in your cold frame right now?

If you lived close by I would let you use one half of the GH to start your plants and I am sure I could lean something from you.:-) The rate I am going it will be time to plant and I have a couple of flats LOL This is new to me so I will listen to what others have to say and do the trial and error process.

Amos
trc65
Galesburg, IL

March 23, 2010
5:21 PM

Post #7651278

Amos, I've got four flats in the cold frame right now and 12 more in the basement under florescent lights. Most of them are native wildflowers: Echinacea, Liatris, Penstemon, Gaura, Camassia (wild hyacinth), Agastache and Rudbeckia and others. Also have some day lilies, some early canna, delphinium and a couple of Aquilegia from seed I must have spilled on my potting bench last summer and got into the geraniums I started in January. Everything in basement is a mix of tender (at least for now) annuals and a variety of vegetables.

We are still having nights at or just below freezing but I've had plants in the cold frame for about two weeks. I just have a single layer of plastic on the cover but that still keeps temp ~10 degrees warmer at night. Last weekend though with 6 inches of snow falling and temps around 25 I did cover it with several old sheets and a plastic tarp. Which brings me to another tip for you and for others:

It has been mentioned here before, but one of the things I do when nights are going to be particularly cold is put several plastic jugs filled with water in the cold frame (currently using old laundry soap jugs that are blue in color). They heat up with the sun during the day and help keep things warm at night. Last weekend, with jugs in the frame, it never got below 38 inside when it was 25 out and 20 mph winds. I have heard others using 5 gallon buckets or 55 gallon barrels in their greenhouse to warm things up and get a little earlier start.

You may only have a couple of flats now, but I would guess within a couple of years you will wish you had an even larger greenhouse. When I built the cold frame three years ago I figured that room for eight flats would be more than I would ever need, but I'll probably grow close to 20 flats worth of plants this year.

ROSES_R_RED

ROSES_R_RED
Mount Bethel, PA
(Zone 6a)

March 24, 2010
3:18 AM

Post #7652003

Amos,

My mini greenhouses have begonias, tomatoes, malvas, galliardas, hibiscus, petunias, allysum, thunbergia, snapdragons, japanese morning glories, cathedral bells, passion flower vines and sweet potato vines.

They do almost as well (a little slower) than the ones under lights in the basement.

I tend to water my plants often (thank goodness that they drain well) and I give them a spray of water (with a little touch of medicinal peroxide once in a while). I really do think that the seedlings like the occasional shower.

I have a 3 season room that I try to use for a greenhouse when the plants get larger and I run out of room. I have just started to fill it up in this picture. The remainder will have to go on the shelves that I put up in the dining room and kitchen (southern exposure). Some stay under lights on 5 shelves downstairs (lights raised ALL THE WAY up).

We actually live like this for a month or so. Friends who don't garden think I'm nuts, but OOHHH how they love the lovely things that I give them for their tiny plant beds.

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Amos55
Lake, MI

March 24, 2010
6:51 AM

Post #7652277

Teri that is a lovley room and perfect for your plants. It sure is filling up fast.

How do you start your sweet potato vines. I took the tubers out of my flower boxes and wintered them over and will try planting them up soon.

I am sure your friends are delighted to have some of your plants given to them.

trc that is a good idea about the water jugs, I have several left from my ws project and I can get more on garbage day at the recycle center. I am thinking that I will put mix up some peters fertilizer in the water and then I will have it ready for my weekley watering. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone.

Is the Gaura that you are starting the one I am thinking of? It has long stems that hang over with the pink or white fowers that look like butterflys? I always use those if I can find them, in my container plantings. I just love them. Let me know how yours do. Where did you get the seed?

You are right once I figure this gh out hopefully I will have it loaded up.

trc65
Galesburg, IL

March 24, 2010
10:34 AM

Post #7652692

Amos,

The Gaura I have is Gaura longiflora the native wildflower. It grows to about six foot tall with pink flowers. I got the seed from Prairie Moon Nursery in Minnesota (one of if not the best sources for native seeds/plants).

BTW, great idea of mixing your fertilizer in jugs.

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