Hi this newbie would love some pointers!

Gillette, WY

So this is actually my second year with my veggie garden. I've learned everything I know thru Dave's garden. So thank you to everyone that has ever posted! I live up in Wyoming and I don't know many other gardeners. My dad loved to, but sadly passed before i ever had an interest in it.

So last year, I planted all my seedling in a jiffy and put them in my window. Then, after getting a lesson on Dave's garden decided i needed lights too! I started in Mid-March. This year I started my sweet peppers in Mid- Feb. I think I may have jumped the gun because our last frost date is first of June. My peppers are already getting their 2nd set of "true" leaves. Does the same rule apply of tomatoes to pot up after the 2nd or 3rd sets of leaves? If so, I think I may make myself crazy by having to rotate the bigger plants under the lights for two more months. There is like 20 pepper plants alone. I bought one of those variety packs and didn't want miss out on a special variety so I planted most of the seeds. I absolutely have no room for these and I don't know what the heck I was thinking!

Does anyone have any experience with seed packs that are a mix? This one says Sweet Pepper Kaleidoscope Mix. Do I have to have two of the same variety to get proper pollination? This girl in confused and a little overwhelmed again :P Thanks!

Thumbnail by Jenn1980
Gillette, WY

BTW not the pic I wanted to post, this is from last year :)

Tonto Basin, AZ

Good rule of thumb with tomatoes is to seed 8 weeks before planting. So if plant out date is June 1, sowing date is about April 1st. You may have jumped the gun, just like we all do. RIght now I have seedlings in the greenhouse that were ready to go in the ground a month ago, but the ground is just now ready.

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Well, you might have overdone it a bit by emptying the seed pack but worse things could've happened. You may have to sort out what you really need to keep and either give away or toss what you can't use.

On second thought, your light system is very similar to mine. I can put four standard 11 X 22 plant trays in mine if I slide them in sideways. Since my sheets hold up to 72 plants each, that means it can hold a total of 244 plants after they are transplanted. The light may not be exactly even but the trays can be rotated to balance the growth rate.

I also have three different places in my house to rotate the plants. First is the light stand, second is a sunny south windosill, and third is an outside patio table in good weather (basicly on frost free days). They are not all under the lights at the same time.

My tomato transplants go into trays is about three weeks after seeding, I think around 3- 3 1/2" high. Peppers about the same but they take much longer to grow. They can be transplanted 2 or 3 times into larger containers before going into the garden.

Hope this helps


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Jenn1980 -

Do I have to have two of the same variety to get proper pollination?

The simple answer is "No" you do not need two of the same variety to get proper pollination.

Tomatoes are pollinated by the wind. I don't know if this is true for peppers.

If you grow "hot" peppers and "sweet peppers" near each other, they will cross pollinate. If you don't save seed from year to year, this is not a problem.

Whitmore Lake, MI(Zone 5b)

I'm new too so I'm going to watch this thread like a hawk. I posted on another one that I am new and I do NOT have any toys. I looked on Dave's Garden too so now I'm worried because I don't have any lights or a seed heating mat. I only have a Florida room that is pretty hot right now but now I hear that my seeds will be leggy baby plants, because of not having grow lights. Is there anyone out there who doesn't have lights either? What do you do for your seed starting? BTW I'm using the Jiffy greenhouse with the peat pellets. I've got veggies AND flowers, and I jumped the gun too. :)

Gillette, WY

Thank you for all the responses! @lycodad Yes, I think I will just have to find some sunny spots to rotate the seedlings.. I LOVE sweet peppers and will try to keep most. Are you not suppose to empty the pack?! LOL! Until recently I didn't know you could save seeds for another year. I haven't worked out where everything will go in my garden yet. I may have to get back out there with the rototiller. Last year it seemed I didn't start early enough so that's why I got started mid feb. Oh well! I guess what matters is that i'm learning and trying new things. @Cynical 76 getting the lights was the best thing i could've done. It's amazing how well plants do under them! I'm trying to talk my sister into the investment but she already thinks i'm a 'know-it-all'. But seriously she has her corn and tomatoes under her stove light. And I just don't see her getting to far with that.

Whitmore Lake, MI(Zone 5b)

"she has her corn and tomatoes under her stove light. And I just don't see her getting to far with that..."
That is hilarious, and an extra incentive to go get some lights. Thanks!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Peppers seem to grow slower than tomatoes. If you want to slow them down some I'd see if I you could reduce their growing temperature they will grow slower. They won't grow as fast if they are in the 60's.

Gillette, WY

@Doug That's what I was thinking. And my little grow room is always a little chilly anyways. Thank You.

With this unusual warm weather, I'm thinking I wanna plant early... I know that's a dumb idea, but GEEZ! it's been in the 60's and 70's this last week!

@Cynical And I was really impressed that I didn't have to put any money into the light set up this year. The plants like it under there still. I think next year I may have to replace some bulbs.

I'm having a lot of fun making herb gardens for me and for some friends for their bday's. This may be something that I would do year round! Especially because of my lights :P

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Cinder blocks and 1x8x12 boards cut in half (6 ft. shelf). They'll cut them for you at the big box store (Home Depot).

►Light kits @ $10/per. I use two kits per shelf, for a total of 4 lights on each shelf)
►"S" hooks $1 per pk of 4
►Blue Hawk #14 Jack Chain #0348479 $6.97 per 15 ft.
►Case of Sylvania Cool Whites $18

►Case of Phillips Cool Whites $22

Thumbnail by Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Notice the use of blocks to raise the trays up to the light, when necessary... Check the trash wood bin at the Big Box store. They usually sell pieces of lumber for $.50-$2.00, depending on what you get.

A piece of 2 x 4 cut into blocks placed under the ends of the shelves will raise your lights and/or your trays on the shelves...


Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I purchased a new T8 x 4ft shoplight today. The housing was $19.74 + tax. The two tubes were $7.98 + tax

Gillette, WY

How often would you say I should change my bulbs? They run 24 hours for about 3 1/2 mo.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Interesting and very timely question Jenn1980. I ran lights Aug 6th to Jan 2nd for my fall-wtr brassica seedlings. Almost 12 hours straight every day. These were the same lights I ran from Jan 2011 thru around the end of March 2011, same schedule. I could tell by the plants leaning one way or another I should've spent the $12 for a new case.

In the future, I'll only go two seasons before I change them all out for new ones, all changed at the same time.

At the very least, I'll mark the lights so I'll know how long before I need to change them out.


This message was edited Mar 27, 2012 11:20 AM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Linda, writing the dates on the end of your tubes is a good idea. I have noticed the Phillips tubes last better than any of the others I've purchased.

I wait until mine fail before I chuck 'em. There's no way my hubby would let me throw out a bulb that still lights up!

Hornell, NY(Zone 5a)

Mine are on and off for 12 hours each day. I've used them for 3 seasons, change the bulbs when they start to flicker without any noticable problems. Sometimes I use them to brighten up the African Violets in the off season when I'm not hatching tomatoes and pepppers.


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Bee and Lycodad,
I just changed most of them out and don't remember which are brand new, so I might just go until this set runs out completely. I have new tomato seeds to start mid-July, so I should be ok with this set through next spring.

Gillette, WY

Great! I think I will try to hang on to them another season. I can see my husband getting ticked for throwing away bulbs that still work :) Thanks Everyone!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gymgirl - fluorescent tubes darken at the ends with age. If your "new" tubes are not too old, you should be able to tell which ones they are.

The center of the tubes always give more light than the ends of the tubes, especially as they age.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks, Bee!

Lake Charles, LA(Zone 9a)

cynical I start my seeds indoors and never used a grow light. Most seeds only need warm and moist soil. when i get seedlings with their first leaves then i start hardening them to the outdoors until their ready to transplant.

Jenn-gardeners like myself who dont have a lot of room will plant what you think your garden can handle and can save the rest for next season, providing your keep your stored seeds in a moist-free cool location.

This message was edited Apr 11, 2012 10:02 AM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

synsfun - When I lived in South Florida (zone 9b) I could start everything outside. And if it didn't get too cold in Jan/Feb I could put in a plant where I took out a plant. Wish I could do that here.

Lake Charles, LA(Zone 9a)

thats one of the greatest advantages here, we have extended summers and cool fronts serving as winters. we go into a panic when the temps get below 50...lol. I like to transplant rather than sow the seeds that way i know how many seedlings i need to take care rather than planting and guessing on how many would actually sprout, then go and space out the seedlings.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

When I said I started everything outside, I meant I did so in pots, then transplanted them into the garden. Sorry for the error.

I agree with you, starting them in pots means you know that a seed has sprouted - takes the guess work out of the equation.

Lake Charles, LA(Zone 9a)

Usually what i do is wait and see how many of green beans sprout, then i measure a small area to start working the soil., then i slowly add to the garden as other plants becaome ready. i like to call it expansional gardening.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Here, it's called succession gardening.

Tell me about your seed-starting in pots outdoors, please. Especially for your fall/wtr starts. I'm thinking I need to begin outdoors when I can, rather than keeping my lights running so long indoors. Although, there is less hassle indoors (no bugs and heat), but, if I can do more outdoors, I can recapture my house and use it as a house!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Linda - to start seeds outside in pots: Pick an area that gets enough sunlight, preferably with an overhang so when it rains, the pots don't get swamped. Then just grow them as you would under lights.

I only did this when I lived in South Florida - Here I grow everything indoors under lights because I don't have an overhang. I do have a porch, but it doesn't get enough sunlight.

One of these years, I'll get hubby to put up translucent plastic corrugated overhang!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> I live up in Wyoming
>> last frost date is first of June.

Tomatoes and peppers might be happier if you can wait until it is warmer than that. I'm no expert, but don't they get sulky if nightime air temperatures go below 50F? Or maybe they just don't grow very fast.

>> having to rotate the bigger plants under the lights for two more months.
>> a Florida room
>> translucent plastic corrugated overhang

I made a low hoop tunnel by tying together two widths of garden fence (rabbit fence?) and bending it. Then I threw some 2 mil plastic film over it. That was enough to nurse some mdium-hardy flower seedlings through freezes and snow (like you, I just had to get them out of the house and into SOME sun. Maybe I can get some photos, but the real experts use flexible PVC pipes under tension, or bend metal electrical conduit "EMT" for hoops.

I'm trying to grow bamboo to lash together as hoops and "purlins", but two years of growth are not enough to get poles. More like "stiff grass".

Ripe tomatoes are a little challenging where I live because spring stays cool well into summer, and nightime is cool time even in mis summer. I started trying a few toomatoes from a nursery last year, but a cool spell in mid to late summer made even my Stupice tomatoes taste nasty.

I've had my own garden for something like three seasons now, and that's about enough time to let me realize how little I know. "Hey, LOOK! They're not all dead this year!!"

I tired to make up a calender for starting seeds inside, outside, and transplanting based on what I read online, on seed packets, and in seed catalogs. That, plus 5-10 years of experience might produce something usefull some day!

Thumbnail by RickCorey_WA
Gillette, WY

I've had my own garden for something like three seasons now, and that's about enough time to let me realize how little I know. "Hey, LOOK! They're not all dead this year!!"

LOL! Right?! I can't believe I was able to produce food last year (my first year). This is just so great for me to get on this website and learn from all you wonderful, helpful people. I don't know any gardeners personally (unless you count my friend who is never in town!). My sister started a garden this year and she's been posting pics on face book and I'm so jealous, her plot looks so professional. I learned that she has a green thumb neighbor helping her! NO FAIR! But at least I have Dave's Garden, my saving grace! :)

We have had a such a mild winter and spring that I think I may try to get these plants outside early, wishful thinking, I know.

RickCorey, That stinks that you have difficulties with tomatoes. My brother lives in Reedsport, OR and tells me of all the wild berries growing everywhere and even being a nuisance. And I would trade berry bushes for tomatoes anyday of the week!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> she has a green thumb neighbor helping her! NO FAIR!

I wish I had had some garden training as a kid, but all I wass allowed to do was mow, weed, turn the soil and compost. I think a lot of garden learning would fastest if someone could look over your shoulder and say "don't do THAT!" about things that just dissapear into a blur of words when you read them.

After a few years of trial and error, when I stumble onto a method that works, or finally comply "the right way" with some advice I've read a million times, I often say "OH! THAT'S what that meant!" or "I guess they were really SERIOUS about THAT piece of advice".

It can be hard to pick out the few universal drop-dead-crucial piec ves of advikce from all the "this is how I like to do it, myself" advice.

I suspect that, once people find a way that works, some start to think it is the ONLY way that works.

>> That stinks that you have difficulties with tomatoes.

Actually, I USED to think it would be impossible to get ripe ones, the summers are so cool.

So instead I'm thrilled that I got anything ( a few weeks worth of cherry tomatoes with nursery-started plants I brought home "much too early"). I carried them in and out like a Momma cat with kittens, and after I planted them, they just sulked for another month before starting to grow, but they eventully did produce some ripe tomatoes (Stupice and Sungold did, anyway).

I blew it this hear (I think I'm too late to start seeds now) , but I feel sure that with early & cool varieties, a plastic cold-frame-tunnel in Spring, and some kind of tent in Fall, that I'll be able to get a goodly amount from seed. Or that may take a few years of ltrial-and-error!

Gillette, WY

Your right! It is all about finding what works for me... And with all the guidance I've been getting, I'm confident MY way will be the RIGHT way! lol!

I did beefsteak and cherry tomatoes last year. I babied them and they were beautiful! This year, I'm babying my pepper plants and now my tomatoes are looking pretty shabby. I only did 6 of each (cherry and roma this year) and there is only 2 or 3 plants that look decent. I don't really feel like reading up on tomatoes in that forum again. But, dangit, I probably should.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Rick -

I wish I had had some garden training as a kid

My mother had the proverbial "black thumb." She knew how to grow, but anything she tried to grow died! I, on the other hand, was born with a "green thumb." I was lucky - mother would tell me what to sow and when - so I learned how to grow food from a very early age.

I recently discovered that my Italian neighbor has a "green thumb." She knows nothing about growing anything, but everthing she tries to grow "lives."

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)


We have a discussion going on over in the Tomato forum that has wandered into pinching/pruning tomatoes to stimulate earlier production and larger fruit. It is titled, Zone 8 Texas - Growing Tomatoes season 2012


It looks like research shows that not pinching or pruning produces more total fruit (lbs) but that pinching or pruning can produce earlier yields and larger fruit. For short season areas (heat problems in Texas or cold in your area) pinching the suckers may give a greater total yield. By pinching and stimulating earlier and larger fruit you squeeze more harvest into the season that you have. For areas that get a full season-- the midwest, central states, etc. they should not pinch, since their plants will produce more during the overall longer season if unpruned.

You may want to try pinching the "sucker" growth on some of your tomatoes this year to see if you get better results.


Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


I always suspected that reading more and "knowing more" in an ac ademic way was quite loikely to correlate with dead plants. There seem to be huge number of really good gardeners who "just do it" and their plants thrive". Several of them have told me I'm "overthinking it".



>> pinching/pruning tomatoes to stimulate earlier production

I thoguht I would do that just becuase I'll have buckets next time I try, and limited space. The idea of forcing earlier ripening really appeals!

By the way, is it "D. Reaves", or "Dr. Eaves"? Just curious.

Hutto, TX(Zone 8b)

Rick, D Reaves (or David)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Hi, David!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Rick -

I'm "overthinking it".

That's what my hubby does - drives me crazy!

I'm more of a "let's-do-it-and-see-what-happens" kind of gal - which, I guess, drives him crazy!

Somehow, we've managed to stay married for nearly 50 years without killing each other! LOL

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

>> Several of them have told me I'm "overthinking it".

I have found myself to be guilty of that too (who'da thunk I'd ever be guilty of thinking too much, eh!?), so that's why I just threw into my tomato bed what I thought should go there for prep (did that last Fall), and this past Saturday I just SPRINKLED some tomato seeds in there, lightly covered, watered well... and SPILLED HALF MY PACKET OF SEEDS INTO THE SURROUNDING LAWN!!!!!!!!!!! ACK!!!! Oh well, I watered that area too! < =D I guess I just sorta got tired of "thinking too much" and just decided to go for it. Here's to hoping at least 1 or 2 plants come up! < =)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

If they come up in the lawn, just transplant them into the RB...

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images