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Gentleman (and ladies): start your seed trays! ;)

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

Ok, after you are done giggling at my corny thread title, let me just say that i am SO glad that we are getting into indoor seed starting season here in my growing zone. For me, tomatoes are ALWAYS a must! The seedlings you see here are Green Zebra, Great White, and Paul Robeson (i was out of plant labels, so i used accordingly colored marbles, lol!) I was trying German Johnson tomato seed that i got from a friend, but they appear to be duds. There are also Red Longhorn pepper seed in here (marked by the speckled marbles) that i am waiting to see peek up from the growing mix. The glare in the top right corner is the full spectrum light that i am supplementing them with.

Thumbnail by jmc1987
Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Lol , not so corny , until we get to Ears , But that is for later ,
Seedlings lights ,
Peppers (3)) kinds
Marigolds (2) kinds
Salvia
Zinnia .
Tomatoes shortly .. getting to those .. Radishes , beets , lettuce , starting also . in keeping with the thread ..

Thumbnail by juhur7 Thumbnail by juhur7
Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

HAH, good one about the ears. yours look pretty darn great. i had another surprise tomato seedling pop up overnight.

I am saving my radish, carrot, and lettuce seed for when there will be no more (or at least fewer) nights where the lows hit 25F or lower, so that i can direct sow them right into my little growing space outside. I also plan on some marigolds as well to plant in between my veggies to help discourage some of the usual nasties that like to eat what we try our best to grow. also plan on mixing in some sweet alyssum here and there to attract some hoverfly--seeing as they hunt down aphids and the like.

in a few weeks i will be starting Lemon cucumber seed. And there will be nasturtium seed planted around where i transplant the tomatoes, as they serve as both a white fly distraction, and something about them growing near tomatoes seem to make the fruits taste better--or so ive read. I also plan on an eggplant, but have never really done well with those from seed, so i usually go with what the garden nursery has. matter of fact i drew up my own photo of the plan with what i hope to achieve this year. looks a bit disorganized i know, but this is what the "companion planting" method ive read up on is all about, supposedly insects and other pests are more attracted to plants that are grown in organized rows, or to all of just one type of plant massed in an area

This message was edited Mar 13, 2014 3:42 PM

Thumbnail by jmc1987
Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I like it !!! Kitchen heirloom photo ^_^
Marigolds here will go near a couple of Watermelon plants , Deters a few like aphids as you said above ,
I have Lemon cucumbers planned also . Usually easier to grow here than standard green types . (and they taste as good to me ) Lot like getting a harvest back most of the time for growing them .

Cold weather going away , Brings time for Insect conversation with our harvest plans ,,lol
I hear Comfrey goes good with Tomatoes , I don't know for sure , it is one of those I have not tried to do . (as of until now) I have Peppermint growing everywhere around mine for now (as of last year , ) Tomatoes do not seem to mind those here , Years ago in lots of sun (and dry earth) at another place , I use to have Catnip growing around the Tomatoes and Cucumbers , The plants all did okay ..
All is as to where you are .
I don't have any photo plans , perhaps a few here will join the thread and show !!!

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

i personally dont trust any type of mint going into my bed, as we all know how absolutely nuts they can go, lol, i may would end up with a bed of all mint and nothing else.

I also chose lemon cucumber because i hear they are a slight bit more resistant to powdery mildew--which took out some of my cucurbits near end of season last year.

i had forgot to mention that the pink flowers in that photo were supposed to be cosmos. thought it would be fun to throw in a little flower section since i can not think of much else edible that i would like to grow this time around.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

OK looks like I found the right people to ask about cucumbers. I grew some really weird ones last year, (didn't really know what they were, just put them in) mouse cucumbers? At any rate, going to go a little more conventional this year. I just wondered if cucumbers would like it in my greenhouse with the tomatoes and melons or out in the garden?
It's been really warm here, I have tomatoes I started from seed that are a good 6 inches tall and growing like wildfire. I went ahead and put in some melon seeds today. But our last freeze is always in February and our evening lows are now in the 50's. Today it was in the mid 70's.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Here are my seedlings! They're in the hardening off period and will be planted out next week, most likely!

Thumbnail by stephanietx
Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Those look great.
Here's a good story. My daughter (in her late 20's) is officially in charge of our little vege patch . Last year it was kind of a dud (I blame the soil mix) but we're starting off good this year with some compost mixed in. My daughter had just seeded and we had a really hot day the next day. We were amazed at how many of the seeds germinated, in less than 24 hours! Maybe we hit the moon cycle right for a change.

Fabens, TX(Zone 8a)

Stephanie, your tomatoes look really great, what are you feeding them?

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

wow nice, my tomato seedlings still are stuck on their seed leaves, and a few late sprouts

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Txtea, I just feed them water from the tap. About every 3 weeks or so, I did give them some fish emulsion.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

When did you sow the seeds? Another words how old are your beautiful plants?

Fabens, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks stephanietx. Mine are about the same size but a few seem to be a little yellower. Don't think I have over watered so will try some fish emulsion.

Cascade, VA(Zone 7a)

me green zebra tomato seedlings seem to be stuck on their seed leaves, no efforts made to produce any true leaves, while all the others are working on thiers

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Lisa, I sowed them in early January. I don't have the exact date at the moment. We'll be planting them next week. :)

Txtea--I water them deeply from the bottom once they get their real leaves. This promotes root development and helps prevent some leaf diseases. I pour about 1/2" of water into the bottom of the pans, then let them sit for about 15 or 20 mins. Then, I move the pots to a new pan, and drain the water to reuse for my potted plants in my sunroom. I only deep water about every 2-3 days. I don't deep water them daily. I have my set up in the spare bedroom, so I also leave the ceiling fan on to keep bugs at bay and to help stems develop.

Alexandria, IN(Zone 6a)

I sowed broccoli, cauliflower, butterhead lettuce, and spinach on Monday morning [3-17]. Some broccoli were coming up in about 43 hours, but spinach is taking longer.

About the 29th I will sow tomatoes and peppers. I sow about everything in 3 inch square plastic pots. I sow all of a given variety of tomatoes in the same pot and transplant them out into their own pot a few days after coming up.

About April 17th I sow some watermelons and giant cockscomb. Then about April 29 I sow some more watermelons and some cantaloupes. All these named plantings are indoors and taken outdoors whenever possible from day 1 after coming up.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I sow about everything in 3 inch square plastic pots. I sow all of a given variety of tomatoes in the same pot and transplant them out into their own pot a few days after coming up.

I love the idea of a micro-seed-flat.

I bottom-water my seed trays sparingly by laying down a fuzzy capillary mat between the seedling tray and a no-holes 1020 tray. I used cotton flannel, but a towel would work, and probably 2-4 thicknesses of Tee shirt would work. It has to be fuzzy or lofted enough for the fabric to touch the soil through a hole in the bottom of each cell.

Then I just water the mat enough to get it damp, but with no water standing above the surface of the mat.

The only "reservoir" is the grooves in the 1020 tray, so I have to water every few days.

As long as the mat is damp, the bottom layer of the mix in every cell is as damp as the mat. I don't re-water until the mat looks at least somewhat dry.


This is like a 'store-bought' capillary mat / water reservoir "growing system" except without the widget to hold the seedling tray in the air to give you a big reservoir. It's much cheaper and can be made from 1020 trays and some fabric from Salvation Army.

This does not accomplish deep watering, it relies on the soil mix to wick water up to the roots (and the roots grow down to meet the water). But I find that it takes rather little peaty mix plus very little fine bark combined with mostly grit-sized bark to wick enough water up a few inches.

And you can top water occasionally if you want to, for example if you don't trust your seedling mix to wick 2-3 inches uphill.

The soil mix should probably be the same in every cell in a tray, so that they will wick at about the same rate in every cell. If half the cells are mostly peat and the other half mostly coarse grit, the seeds in grit will always have less access to water than the seeds in peat.

You CAN still top water this way. Excess water drains and wicks DOWN out of any over-watered cells, into the mat. Then it wicks SIDEWAYS to the thirsty cells, until the bottom of every cell is equally moist. (Then it wicks UP in the drier cells or where there are bigger, thirstier plants.)

Any perched water created from top-watering drains and wicks down to the bottom of the cell, where the capillary attraction of the mat (plus gravity) wicks it from the soil mix to the mat. No more perched water! It is really hard to drown roots once you set up a tray this way.

Pleasant Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

Today I am tossing the third batch of seed starts.
Nothing germinated. Not one seed. Grrrr.

Do you all start seeds indoors? I live in a relatively warm climate, and have a tiny house, so I want to start them outside in the grow box that my husband built for me. Clearly it isn't working.

My next plan of attack is a very cumbersome experiment - with three variables:
Location: Indoor, Outdoor
Type of planting: soil block, newspaper cups, flat, 6-pak
Type of cover: no cover, clear (saran wrap), or black plastic

When I do the math, that is 36 seedlings for every type of seed I want to grow (a curcurbit, a nightshade, and a brassica).

That is a ton of work... and it's April... and my seedlings should be in the ground by now.

I'm not sure if I am just venting here, or I need encouragement, or I need advice. Or maybe all three. What I do know is that is the right place. My husband is not a gardener. He just looks at me and shrugs.

Help! - Patty

(zone 9b)

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I live in Texas and the only things I start indoors are tomatoes and peppers. You're in a warmer zone, so you could get away with that, but it's a bit late to start tomatoes and peppers from seed. Also, the brassicas probably wouldn't do well as they like it cold/cooler.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Could you use the Deno method ? damp paper towel and a baggie germinated seeds , then plant .
Easy with larger seeds , What particularly are you trying to start . Melons ? Tomato ? Greens?
Something certainly is not right there ,,

Your right that is a lot of time wasted and hope , and effort when nothing sprouts . !!!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

There are many places in CA that garden nearly year round. The zone doesn't indicate how hot it gets but how cold it gets. When I lived in SoCal I actually had lettuce and tomatoes at the same time. A DG friend lives in zone 10 but the temps rarely get higher the 75* buti it rarely freezes either. Like juhur suggested you mite want to try a germination test. It seems very odd that nothing germinated.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Three batches isn't a lot of seeds to kill. I'm sure it is frustrating that ALL of them failed to come up, but part of a gardener's education is learning what things NOT to do.

Maybe pick a few seed types that are considered extra-easy. That may help you notice what to change. You might be close to perfect, but if you're starting fussy seeds, you might not realize it until you stumble onto getting EVERYthing perfect.

Just guessing at the things that I did wrongest, most often:

1 overwatering by watering too often drowns and rots the seeds
2 soil too dense, retains too much water, drowns and rots the seeds
3. overwatering by watering too MUCH drowns and rots the seeds
4. burying seeds too deep
5. trying to start seeds that need warmth to germinate in a cold room

Someone, somewhere, must have killed some seeds by keeping them damp long enough to germinate but then letting them dry all the way out. But I haven't met that person yet!

You might try a different soilless mix. Too bad the best ones tend to be sold in huge bales rather than small bags! But some good names are: Pro-Mix, Sunshine, Fafard and Black Gold.

If the mix you have is powdery and just "lies there in a pile" instead of filamentous and holds itself up and full of air spaces, be extra-wary of over-watering. Those "peat powder" mixes will never let excess water drain out, so they never let air back in. If the spaces between peat fibers stays filled with water instead of air, air can't diffuse through the soil mix to reach the seeds. No air, no oxygen, dead or rotted seeds.

If over-watering is the problem, and you have a "powdered peat" mix, all I can suggest is never watering it anywhere near what you think is needed. Cover the just-moist mix with plastic film or a humidity dome. If that fogs up, add no water. If there is no fog, maybe mist the soil surface with a fine mist of water.

Better: replace the mix with something "lofty" , "airy" , 'well-aerated", and "very fast draining". If you have junk mix and coarse Perlite try a 50-50 mix to get some aeration.

I'm just guessing at the problem. Do you ever dig up the seeds after a week or two to see if they started germinating then died, or just rotted whole?

One good thing about starting a few seeds on a paper towel or coffee filter: you can see right away when they start to sprout. If they turn into blobs of mold or fungus, that was too much water.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

No, it's not that many to die but they should at least germinate, I would think.

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