I'd like to know what everyone finds to be the best way to start seeds. I have used peat pellets in flat the last 3 years. Now I see Rootcubes that a DH friend uses. Anyone prefer something over the other?
I just use seed-starting soil. Usually I buy the commercial bags but this year I made my own mix with Miracle Grow and perlite. I chopped it finely in an old blender and so far it's worked beautifully and was considerably cheaper than the store bought soil.
It seems like peat pellets are one of those things that people either really like or really dislike. My experience with them was not so great. LOL.
Being a gardener most of my life (65) I always bought transplants at a nursery or sowed seed directly into the garden. This year, however, I thought since I was retired that I would like to start some seeds early indoors. Yesterday I finished moving 97 plants from Jiffy peat pellets into 4" square plastic nursery pots filled with straight coconut coir. I planted 108 Jiffy peat pellets. Some of the seeds were planted too deep and therefore have not germinated.
Next year I may use some of the remainder of my Jiffy pellets, but I will also plant some seeds in straight coir in the 4" pots. The 4" pots come 18 to a flat made specifically to hold the pots and it is designed to bottom water.
I use PROMIX BX for everything. Seed starting and container planting. It doesn't compact as much and the seedlings do well. I hate those mesh jiffy things. The plants don't seem to root past them, they do not degrade at all and end up wicking the water and depriving the roots from moisture. I have bought all my seed starting cell trays from Lee Valley tool. Love them. They taper nicely and the roots don't end up in a ball. I have 2 size. 72 cell & 32 cell - larger 2" cell). They are super easy for transplanting, just stick your finger in the hole & pop it out. Also use a wicking mat at the bottom of the water pan/tray.
I used toilet paper tubes (if I remembered where I saw how to make them into pots or I would post the link) with seed starting mix and I have some new 72 and 96 flat inserts that I will fill with seed starting mix. I also have a tray of peat pellets I mostly want to see what I like best which is why I am starting so many methods.
I use the 36 and 72 cell packs and seed germinating mix from Gardeners Supply. I have tried some of the Styrofoam planting trays with the plugs and gave up on them. Also the expanding peat disks, hate the plastic mesh, root growth restricting.
I reuse the trays and humidity domes, but buy the cells new every year.
The TP tubes would be great for the plants that do not take well to transplanting, I'll have to try some of those, thanks.
I have received hanging baskets as a gift with geraniums in them, the geraniums made it through the season and I like to save them by removing them from the basket and hanging them in the basement over winter, I find the roots are encased in those plastic mesh plugs, then I cut off the plastic mesh I can almost hear the roots take a sigh of relief.
I have to admire you gardeners in the cold areas of the world. Starting from scratch every year with your seeds and overwintered plants is a huge task and I don't think I could do it. Of course, I would be curled up in a corner waiting for warm weather, so it would be pretty hard from that aspect! LOL
I've tried many methods but have never done a 'scientific study' of growing the same seeds in different systems. I too have mostly given up on the styrofoam cell systems. I've been using the mesh peat pellets; I like them okay. I saw when I pulled up annuals that they were still intact, but the plants did fine and did grow roots out of the mesh.
I tried some paper pots in a mesh configuration that I did not like and some little coir pot-lets that were terrible.
Mostly now I do some in cell packs and misc. containers as well as the jiffy trays of peat pellets.
The mesh never has really disintegrated for me either, but the roots seem to grow out of them just fine. I think it's just amazing when I start canna's from seed, then in the fall when I dig them up, there's a beautiful tuber and stuck on the side is this mesh thing where the seed started and I think it's so cool that this huge plant grew from this little seed!
144 cell trays work best for me, although I also use some plastic cups. This year I'm trying some of those homemade plastic grow bags, 3x5 inch variety. I use a combo of seed starting mix, or peat-n-perlite, or professional container mix. Lately I have been putting a bit of pine bark mulch at the bottom of my cups or 2 inch pots, as plants really like it and it transplants well. I used to use the jiffy peat pots, but never had much luck with keeping things alive in them. I always use a bit of H2O2 in the water as I prep them, or soak the seeds.
I've used store-bought and homemade seed starting mixes in the past, which have worked great. This year, however, I bought a kit, which came with a 72-cell tray w/ lid, heat mat, and coco plugs (coconut coir plugs). This is my first time using the coco plugs. I just sowed my seeds last Monday (5 days ago), and already there are lots of things sprouting. I will have to wait and see how transplating goes.
WOW! I have heard about TP rolls for pots, but never tried it. I just now made 2 from a roll- I will be saving them from now on-(how many rolls does the average person use in a year? :-) )
I just cut it in half, folded it flat once, then again to make it square- then cut each corner about half inch in- crease, fold flaps to "lock" and there are 2 perfect pots. I will save my rolls flattened all year for next year-too late to have for this year. Also, paper towel rolls- Thanks for this great idea!
This is TP pot thing is gonna get me in trouble! Being a packrat all my life, hating to waste anything- can you see me going around the hood asking neighbors to save me their empty TP rolls???!!!
BTW, here's a photo of what I just sowed today- I used JiffyMix- the container is supposed to be an apple ripener, I think- there's a clear vented cover that goes on it. Of course it came from a thrift shop! I have planted pelletted Wave Petunias, Tumbler tomato (for HBs) Totem tomato, and cutting Celery. I am getting anxious to do more, but will try to control myself! Here in WA, it gets warm late-
Great idea for tp...recycling is great!!
Does anyone have problems with 'dampening off' of new growth emeging in pots?
Planning a victory garden and new to vegetable gardening and need to start plants from seeds..
All help in starting seeds will be appreciated!!!
Geraldine, I found that a good reliable "clean" germinating mix is the key. Everyone here will have their favorites, some are a homemade mix. Also starting in clean containers, some reuse, but clean in bleach water and a good rince and dry. Others will say keep air circulating with a fan on low.
My method, I only use germaination mix from Gardeners Supply, new 6 pack cells. Lights close to the seedlings, no fan. So far knock on wood no problems. I really think the mix and the containers are the most important part.
I use a resealable plastic food container(for maintaining high humidity),white paper napkin
(to see better), water with dilute potassium nitrate(KNO3), a little watersorb, and a warm,
dark place. constant temp(80-90) and high humidity is key. Sunlight will cause big swings in temp and isn't necessary for germination. Move to soil, sun, and breeze when some
green is showing.
I use a seed starting mix in seeding trays to sow my perennials in. I don't like the pellets since they dry out too fast and I think when they are wet, they are too wet.
The seedlings in the photo is of Pelagonium, Dianthus, and one I can't remember since this was taken years ago.
I don't do much indoor sowing anymore. I use my coldframe to sow seeds of perennials in teh fall since many varieties require stratification (cold treatment). They germinate when condition is right in the spring.
I'm with Ladygardener1. I've been using Garden Supply Company's Accelerated Propagation units (APS) for many years. I get a soilless seed starting mix from any store with a garden supply section. I use mostly the 12 and 24 unit trays and like the fact that I can order replacement parts when I need them. I grow hundreds of seedlings every year, under shop light on timers in my basement. For plants like annual salvia I will put three in a cell to create a mass effect in the garden. Since they will be gone at the end of the season overcrowding is not an issue.
Hi! Loved your 'baby' seedlings!
Can't wait to start mine in MA. Waiting for my morning glory seeds to come in to start them early.
I did read that if you use a plastic fork, you can gently raise and seperate seedlings.
Might be worth a try!!
Sunny but COLD ! Hight 30 today...
I have tried them all... from the soil blocker all the way up to the APS they all have goods and bads... swore off any pellets... I loved using newspaper pots until it was time to harden off... after getting rained on a few times they became too mushy and I had to lift each with a trowel or it would fall apart... I love the cow pots for anything that doesn't like to be transplanted or going in my beds... since they are made from compost and anything will help my poor soil... and they are just tough enough to start indoors and some I bottom water... harden off and get in the ground without breaking apart... and the roots still grow through them
I will try out the tp rolls for the last min stuff this year instead of using bathroom cups... thanks for that
Thanks blomma, when I get my morning glory seeds in I will plant them into a large plastic cup to start germinating and grow inside til I can plant outside.
You mentioned the large root system plants need that's why I will use the big cups.
Also will keep deadheading plants and give away blooms to seniors that live nearby.
Your welcome. I forgot to mention that if you can find a small fork, or else use a plastic and break off some of the teeth, it works even bettter.
If I remember correctly morning glories don't like to be transplanted so do it after first set of leaves, very carefully.
I use the foam coffee cups to transplant seedling in. Cheap in Walmart. I like them because the foam insulate the roots, and the sides can easily be torn away from the root system when time to plant. Less disturbance on roots. Can easily puncture drainage holes with a pen, or similar.
I used to live in Gt. Barrington, MA during the 70's and 80's. until I moved to WY. What a difference in gardening methods that is. Had to start learning all over again due to different climate and soil.
Thanks blomma, had to learn gardening in Fl. when I was there...much different from MA.
Picked up some lg. peat pots for mg...waiting for them to come in...
A seed seller said not to use peat pots for tomatoes because they promote fungus infections with die back of plants. True ??
MA and FL, not that is a huge difference
I have used peat pots for all kinds of plants without any problems. I have never heard of them promoting fungus infections. I really doubt it. Fungus comes from the bacteria in soil, I belive. No soil, no fungus.
Personally I don't care for peat pots anymore because they do dry out quickly and tend to soften when wet. Hard to pick up. I use foam coffee cups for temporary pots. They insulate the roots, are cheap in Walmart, and stand up, yet the wall tear off easily when you want to get the plants out of it so you get the whole rootball. You can easily write on it with a marker. Making drainage holes in foam is as easy as it gets. To me it is the perfect first pot.
I have some plastic containers and also use foam cups. Fill them with potting soil. Last year I used the Jiffy Mix seed starting mixture and all my tomato seedlings turned purple/black. Transplanted them into different dirt right away, and they survived. But I won't use the Jiffy mix again. Don't know if I got a bad batch, or what was wrong. I've been starting tomato seeds for 30 years, and never saw any seedlings turn those colors before!
Iíve used peat pellets in the past but this year decided to make my own newspaper starting pots filling with seed starter soil mix. I placed the pots in stackable baskets to keep from having to handle them much. When itís time to water, I just take the basket(s), sit them in the bath tub, run some warm water & let the pots soak up the water from the bottom. Theyíve worked great!!!
the 3" is not far off... not exactly 3 square... the only thing annoying is the lip takes up too much room in a flat... until they loosen up you have to squeeze the 4th one in side by side... I actually thought about cutting it off... the decided it was too much work
onewish1 - I have to agree with dahlianut, your geraniums are coming along very nicely. I've germinated marigolds, vinca, alyssum, primrose & african daisey's so far. I've got thuja green giant seeds in cold stratification (since 2/2) to try as well. I can't wait to get them in the dirt, hopefully I can wait a full 90 days. :) I'm also trying to root stem cuttings of of leyland cypress & dogwood trees but haven't had much luck with them. They've been in peat pellets for 4wks & no roots yet. Maybe I should stick with the tried & true yellow bell bush when it comes to rooting stem cuttings but darn I would love to root some trees. Direction / advise anyone?
I will have to see if my ACE will do that... some of these places around here wanted to charge me $60.00 for a bale... but I found a hydroponics place not far from here that the price was something like $38.00
onewish...the main warehouse for the Ace Hardware out here in eastern CT is in New York. I bet that is the one your local Ace would draw from too. I wanted fish emulsion and the NY warehouse didn't have it but the owner I think said she could get that from another Ace depot someplace. Anways...they got it..its a matter of the local Ace getting it. Freight is free...they just add it to their regular shipments.
Was great looking at those seedlings...I planted some seeds and sprinkled some perlite on top to help prevent damping off...will this work ?? will the perlite burn the new shoots ??
Am new to starting seeds and need all the help I can get!!
Since my last post here, I have been on a roll. I discovered a new use for kitchen paper towels---germinating seeds indoors. Others use coffee filters with this method. I prefer paper towels because they are soft and easier to squeeze excess water from.
From now on, kitchen paper towels will be my favorite for germinating seeds that are large enough to handle.
While looking for something in my garden shed, I came across a plastic shoe box full of different varieties of old seeds I had forgotten about. All are hardy perennials. I had given my daughter a bunch of seeds 2 years ago thinking I had given her all of them. I didn't. Gosh, this must be a sign of aging!!
I haven't started plants from seeds for a few years. This year I wanted more plants since I am redoing my borders. Likewise is my daughter. Since I found all those seeds, I figured I may as well test them out using the damp paper napkin method. I usually sow seeds in my coldframe but I am out of space in there. Nor did I want to waste seeding mix if the seeds weren't going to germinate.
The first variety of seeds I sowed were the C. macrocephala from 2004. I placed 10 seeds in a moist paper towel and placed it in a ziplock bag. Left the ziplock bag on top of my refrigerator where it is warmer than the house temperature. Seven out of 10 germinated in 7 days. The average time is 5 to 10 days. I have already potted them up 2 to a 3" pot, since I was unprepared for such fast germination, if at all. Next came Datura with the same method. I tried both the 2002 and the 2004, without any difference. Germination count was a bit lower. Six out of 10 seeds have germinated but others may be stragglers.
Now I am on a roll. I have 26 varieties of seeds so far in little packages of paper towels in baggies. Some I am stratifying in the refrigerator, other not. All were started between 2/18 and 3/1. To mention a few:
Scabiosa---2 varieties, germinated
Geranium 'Vision'---2 so far
Dianthus plumarius---in frige
Euphorbia polychroma---in frige
Asclepia tuberosa---in frige
Callirhoe involucrata---in frige
Salvia argentea---4 so far
Heliopsis helianthoides---9 germinated
and more to do
I hadn't planned on that many seeds germinating. Forget window space. I will have to drag out my 4ft long plant light and set it up again over a shelf. Too early to plant outdoors. Once through the real baby stage, I can bring them over to my daughter's sun room.
I came to the conclusion: never toss out old seeds. They do not have to be fresh to germinate. Also, I just want a few plants of each so this method prevents oversowing and wasting seeds. Love it!!
Caption: Germinated seeds of Centaurea macrocephala just prior to potting up.
Wow, just checked mine top of fridge, the black millet is 'sprouting' in container.
I used a clean (used bleach and soap ) plastic strawberry container from grocery store!! 'I feel good' never did good seed starting til I came to DG and met you all!!
20 today and 0 chill factor for tomorrow but smiles here...got plenty of snow, am sending some to friends in Fl..Ha Ha Ha...
I've been using ProMix for many years and always have excellent results. I've also tried the pellets, the peat pots, the fancy schmancy flats with domes and water tray bases. . .they're all a waste of money. A plastic flat or a homemade wooden one with heat cable if required, a flower pot, and ordinary plastic stretched and thumbtacked over, or a plastic bag. That's all that's really required. Oh, I forgot the lights. I use a homemade setup where I can raise or lower fluorescent lights. Another thing I use is a heavy duty set of shelves I got from Home Depot. It cost $60.00 but I use it every year and the shelves can be spaced any way you want. I hang fluorescent fixtures on each shelf; it works out great!
Go Blomma Go! I seeded quite a few seeds that I found in the seed fridge from 2005 this year. Amazing germination with some. Others... sigh. Unfortunately my big bummer is I have f*u*n*g*u*s g*n*a*t*s this year in my indoor grow op for the first time ever (I wrote in secret code so they will be confused and won't spread) so I will probably not be moving any seedlings from the indoor grow op to the greenhouse :(
Finally got the light set up on my shelf today and moved all my babies under it. More had broken through the soil in the flats after germinating with the paper towel method, including Daturas, and 12 Helianthus maximillian (Prairie Sunflower) for my daughter. Also 7 Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Weed).
The Prairie Sunflower seeds I stratified in the refrigerator first. They germinated when placed in a warmer location.
I forgot to take a photo before I started writing.
What really amazes me is that some seeds I that had trouble germinating when sown in seeding mix, germinated easily in moist paper napkins.
Checked on my Hibiscus moscheutos that I had sown in moist paper towels and stuck in baggie after I nicked, then soaked them overnigth. These seeds were old so didn't expect much. I tried them when I first bought them and only one came up.
I sowed these on March 1, 2009, the photo is taken on March 3, 2009
What a surprise!!!
See for yourself. Already placed in a seeding flat for further growth.
I may have mentioned this, but I start all my seeds in ziplock baggies. I mix fafard 3b right into the bag with the seeds and about 1-2 ounces of water, then put the seeds under lights or on heat and they germinate right in the bag. When it is time to pot them up, I use a plastic fork and then I toss whatever sowing mix is left into my "recycle bucket". When it gets full I use the recycle bucket to top dress a flower bed and if there are any seeds left in the mix that hadn't germinated when I potted the seedlings, they germinate where I have top dressed them. I can always move the seedlings to a permant home when they are larger.
I tried the papertowels in the ziplock bags, but it seemed as though it took twice as long to me.
The only trick to transplant sprouted seeds is to make a hole with a pencil, use tweezer and grab the seed shell and carefull guide the root into the hole and tuck it in from the sides. Then add more mix to the level the seed was suppose to be at, had you sowed it in soil.
Denise, I zip the baggies completely until the seedlings emerge. then I open them and let the little plants get fresh air.
As long is there is condensation on the inside of the baggie, the seeds are moist and humid enough.
The neat thing is that you can leave the seedlings in the baggies until they have a couple of sets of true leaves.
Sometimes I transplant too early, but other times I actually wait until the plants are a couple of inches or so above the baggie.
I will try to post some pictures later on today.
I didn't have good luck with the paper towel method; maybe I waited too long? But the roots were stuck to the towel, which I just tore pieces off and left intact with said roots. And the seeds had shifted and the roots were intertwined...
I may try the baggie idea, but I too want to know about keeping the plastic away from the plant-lets.
Onewish & cedar 18, there are 2 ways, 1 keep a lot of air in the baggie, and 2 if you have already opened the baggie
you can stick plastic knives or popsicle stick in the mix to keep the baggies off the babies.
I will go take pics.
I stumbled on to this because I failed at germinating them in baggies on coffee filters and paper towels. The idea came to me, what if I just put the soil right in the bag.
This is my 3rd year germinating this way and my success rate has improved dramatically.
I've been using peat pellets for a lot of years. I don't like that the mesh doesn't disintegrate, but it has not stopped roots IME. I tried the super-long pellets but found that the top tended to dry out in my setup. I tried using cellpacks a couple of times but didn't like them much because if every slot didn't sprout you had slots going to waste. Which just offends my sense of efficiency, lol! However, I have tons and tons of cellpacks left.
I used to use plastic cups for pots with holes made in the bottom with a phillips screwdriver--a little top-heavy. Finally one year I caved and bought a bunch of 4" plastic pots. I've been using those same pots for years now and I am glad I have them.
To keep the plastic from laying flat, zip up the baggie to 1/2" from end. Blow in it so that it becomes like a balloon. When you feel that no more air will go in, quickly zip up the rest. Make sure the tracks on the baggie are lined up or the bag will not keep the air inside.
You left the germinated seeds in the paper towels too long. Remove the sprouted seeds when you can see the radicals (roots). Check every days because those can grow overnight. See my post on March 4. I have a photo of Hibiscus seeds that sprouted in 2 days after nicking and soaking. They are now planted in a flat and just broke through the soil.
CAPTION: All the plants in the photo was started in moist paper towels. The Hibicus is growing on the left side in the flat in upper right. It is just breaking through the soil. The other plants are hardy Geraniums, Asclepias incarnata, Heliopsis, Helianthus, and the tiny seedling of Dianthus in the flat upper left.
Every year I drive up to an Mackey's Agway in Colchester, Connecticut to get fertilizer, potting mix and other supplies. It is still farm country up there and prices are much better than on the coast.
This year the prices were amazing. Lambert potting mix was $11.99 for a 3.8 cu ft bale. I bought three. Asked if they had made a mistake because last year the same mix was $21. No...no mistake. Last year I used Lambert and ProMix. Saw no difference between the two except that ProMix runs around $33 a bale here.
Hello everyone. I'm new to the forum, and have learned a lot about seeds today. This year, I'm trying egg cartons to start some seeds. I'm using the clear plastic kind, and I punched hole in the bottom of each egg holder. You can keep the top of for a mini greenhouse, or cut them in half like I did for double the trays. I use planting soil and bottom water. We'll see how it turns out.