First Timer: Sandy Utah - Seed Germination Questions.

White City, UT

Hi I'm Tabbers and I'm very interested in starting my own vegi-garden. Today is Feb. 19th 2013 so I'm wondering:

1) Is it too early to start germinating seeds?
2) Is it possible to have an inside vegi garden?
3) When is the best time to start germinating seeds, and when should I put them outside?
4) To germinate seeds - do I need to get seed starter soil, or can I use Miracle-Grow potting soil?

My idea is to start germinating and then transfer/plant them in a GrowBox that I can move around my yard (maybe).

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

Hi, Tabbers!

You'll find Dave's Garden to be one of the friendliest, most helpful sites on gardening you'll ever encounter.

Just a tip that will help us to help you-- please go back and list your growing ZONE.

When you are communicating with other growers, it is important for each of you to have an idea of where you are. Climates, micro-climates, and seasons vary from location to location. Here's how to list your ZONE:

►Click on the MY TOOLS tab on your home page-

►Select PREFERENCES from the My Tools box on the left/right of your screen

►Go down and click on YOUR LOCATION

►Scroll down to "Please select the USDA Zone..." and input your relative zone

►Click on UPDATE to refresh your page. Voila!

This will be very helpful in your journey here. Soon as the other growers see your zone, those who are nearby should begin chiming in with helpful tips!



Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Sandy is South Salty- Salt Lake City. White City is on the east side of Sandy. The zone I am not sure of, but it will give it to you on that page... and wecome! The zone tells us planting times and for some of us- soil temps that are important...

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Some crops are cold-hardy and you can start planting them as soon as your soil is dry and warm enough to dig and rake. (Never work on wet soil, because then it turns to mud and looses the "structure" that keeps it loose and airy.. Peas are an example of an "early" crop.

Tomatoes and peppers like warmth. They might be started indoors before the last frost, but don't transplant them outside until it has warmed up some.

Plants are like people - there's a lot of variety. You can find tables of "sowing dates" and "transplanting dates". They list crops in one column, and then have other columns for
"when to direct sow outside"
"when too start seeds indoors"
"when to transplant from inside to outside"

They usually list "weeks before average last frost" and "weeks after last frost".
Or "when weather is settled and soil has warmed".

My suggestion is to start with some things that are very hardy and easy to grow. I was very r5eassured my first 3 years when "At least I didn't kill ALL of them this year!" But your thumb will probably be greener than mine.

Or pick things that you like so much that you're willing to guess wrong a few times but keep trying.


Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

tabbers - I have found this site helpful to know when to sow what both indoors and outdoors.

Seed packages usually say when to sow seeds. You can also look up your local agricultural extention service online for useful information on planting guides.

NO - you cannot grow vegetables to maturity indoors successfully unless you invest in very expesive lighting.

Personally, I prefer to mix my own seed-starting mix, but Miracle Grow potting mix will give you good results as long as you don't over-water your seedlings.

White City, UT

Thank you everyone for the replies.

So what I've started is: Lettuce (Bibb & Romaine), Onions (Those cute little ones), and Zucchini :D
So far I have sprouted and planted them in a Jiffy starter Dome thingy. I'm so excited!!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Gardening is exciting every spring, for seed-starters, I think. For sure, the first year is a thrill!

Let me know if you get interested in Asian greens for salad, soup or quick-fry. I collect Bok Choy, Chinese cabbage and similar mild greens like Tatsoi and Komatsuna, then urge them upon people.

One of the things I love about those (they are all forms of Brassica rapa) is that you can harvest them as seedlings, baby leaves or big plants, and cook them almost any way: raw in salad, steamed, boiled or stir-fry.

If you plant at the wrong time and they start to bolt in the cold or wilt in the heat, just declare them "done" and harvest them all that day an d have lots of very tender salad from young leaves. (But most don't store well).

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Welcome to Dave's and gardening....☺

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Umm, cute little ones being onion chives? They need same fertilizer as the big ones- we all have favorite sites for seeds and is our place for onion lore and onions...

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Ooops! sorry

White City, UT

Today I looked at them and they shot -up from the soil. I feel so good, like I'm raising baby plants LOL.

Also are hybrid seeds considered to be GMO?

Thumbnail by tabbers
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> are hybrid seeds considered to be GMO?

Nope. Hybrids are made with things like small paintbrushes or insects transferring pollen from bloom to bloom in a controlled process that (to my mind) is identical to what farmers have done for `10,000 years and nature has done for billions of years. The genes stay inside the species (or closely relatede groups of species).

I think the name "GMO" could be applied to any plant variety produced using genetic engineering techniques developed in the last 20-30 years, where researchers use vectors or a pneumatic "gene gun" to transfer DNA from one plant (or species) into another plant (or species).

But I like the practice where "GMO" is reserved to mean soem thing more specific and ambitious - doing something that nature does NOT do, or only does extremely rarely - namely "transgenic" engineering, where the genes come from one species and are shot into the nucleus of another species (or transferred with a vector like a virus or "transposon").

In my mind, the key thing is crossing the species line.

If the researchers are just using shortcuts to pluck the resistance genes they want from some wild variety of, say, wheat, and "plugging" those into a productive wheat strain they already have, I'm not very concerned. Farmers or nature could do the same thing, just taking more years to do the crossing and selection and inbreeding.

No new risk (except that it does make mono-cropping easier, encourages further reduction of genetic diversity in our commercial seed stains, and gives Big AgriBusiness another tool for good or evil).

But when they cross genes from bacteria or other species into something that is going to be propagated around the globe, that seems like an experiment on a very grand scale.

Also, if the transposons leave parts of themselves behind, and IF those act like the "jumping gene mechanism" that already exists in nature, then they might make the new genes more mobile even outside the lab, encouraging the genes to do to weeds and neighboring crops the same thing the researchers did in the lab: jump around promiscuously. Like Roundup resistance crossing over into weeds.

That should have been expected by any plant en-gene-er that read a magazine article about how antibiotic resistance jumps from bacterial species to bacterial species. Even so, my expectation is that it won't lead to any genetic Armageddon, just make glycophosphate less profitable and less effective over the next decade or two.

I can't really dispute the attitude that we shouldn't experiment with anything, or take any risk, now that we understand that everything we do CAN have global consequences. If you want to avoid all risk, there's not much left that you CAN do.

But I usually compare the risk of some new thing with the risk of all the old things that already exist. Like climate change, global economic collapse, running out of energy resources, new viruses and newly resistant bacterial and fungal diseases ... the risk of Bt genes running wild and taking over the planet is low on my list of what's likely to get me. YMMV. I know many reasonable people are red-hot against all GMO, and not all of them are just indignant about Monsanto's business practices.

The en-gene-ering that I have more hopes for is things like increasing the Vitamin A content of Golden Rice 2.

BTW: the leading edge of genetic engineering is called "synthetic biology", where they try to program new DNA sequences to do things more efficiently or more profitably. Ha ha, they are finding that you can't beat Mother Nature! The new path there has become how to BETTER IMITATE what DNA is already doing somewhere else.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Hybrid i think is more prone to mean a plant wont throw seeds true to that plant. look for F1 seeds to plant. especially if you take a fancy to groe heirlooms and preserve seed. Good job Rick!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thank you kittriana!

Didn't you want to say "Look for F1 and avoid that, if you want to grow and preserve heirlooms"?

When buying seeds, the opposite of "hybrid" is "open pollinated strain". Those have been selected and isolated for generations so that their genetics are stable and each generation they produce is similar. Their desirable characteristics come from long-term selection for the desired traits. You could even say "inbred".

I save the seed catalogs from vendors who say "we on ly sell OP seeds", because they know I may want to save my seeds! But I also save catalogs from any vendor who makes very clear, for every packet, whether that one is OP or F1. There are practical reasons to buy F1 seed as long as that's what you want. Most farmers do, because "uniform" and "marketable" are what they want.

"F1" means "these seeds are the first-generation HYBRID result of a cross between two dissimilar parents." They get very fancy effects by careful crafting of two inbred PARENT lines that look cool in the FIRST generation after they are crossed with each other (hybridized).

The F1 seeds will grow into F1 plants that have special qualities like "very consistent" and "uniform maturing" or "fancy-shaped blooms" or "rare colors" or "extra-extra-sweet" or "extra early".

The problem with saving seeds from F1 plants, is that the seeds are now SECOND-generation descendents (F2) from dissimilar parents. Their genetics are a random mis-mash. The crop will be varied and perhaps interesting, but usually just dull and blurry with a wide variety of less-desirable characteristics, and maybe 1/4 or 1/8 of the crop showing any of the desirable characteristics. .

My biology text would describe the genes of the two parent strains as P1:

The commercially-desirable, carefully crafted F1 seed and F1 plants are ALL uniformly:

But the F2 cross is worse than mongrel, it's a random assortment of things that only worked well in the "designed" combinations. Natural mongrels like wildflowers are likely to be healthy (even if average). When you scramble up the genetics from two inbred "designer" strains like the P1 parents, into random combinations instead of the crafted one, you're lucky to get "average".

This message was edited Feb 22, 2013 4:39 PM

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Now let me stand on my head and argue for the exact opposite side.

A lot of gardeners and even some market growers value genetic diversity all-in-one-bag. Instead of saving 20 "pure" seed packets, each with a unique heirloom variety from the deep South, OR coastal New England, OR Uzbekistan, they save ONE big pkt.

They sowed their patch with as many different seed sources as they could find, then let nature do the hybridizing and the selecting. The seeds that SURVIVED the first year in Cache Valley, Utah, cross-pollinated randomly created a population of seeds that are an intentionally-random (but selected) combination of all the genes that were sowed. Genes that couldn't survive in that part of Utah did not even make into the F1 seed! That selected for the desirable genes.

Next year, planting that selected seed, brought together favorable and unfavorable combinations of the selected genes, and once again nature selected the favorable survivors. Again random cross-pollination helps, because the undesirable combinations are weeded out rapidly. By the third or fourth year, the genetic population is well-adapted, and Joseph does more of the selection himself, by hand, by choosing plants not only for surviving, but for being productive and tasty.

In just three years, he was able to evolve his cantaloupe variety from "they mostly die here" to awesome.

Some call that an adaptivar, a variety adapted to a particular locale.

Or it is the first step towards a landrace: a variety adapted over centuries and in hundreds of fields to suit all the climatic and other conditions of the region. Everything we eat comes from landraces adapted over 5,000 or 10,000 years. For the first several thousand years, the adaptation and selection were probably partly or entirely unconscious and unintentional. But I think any tribe that realized that blond parents tend to have blonde children figured out the same thing for crop plants.

In the last few hundred years, it has been more scientific.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Yeah. I was rushing and got multi thots in pieces in one sentence. thanx again rick. I love OP and heirlooms, but I don't make a profession nor a living at my plants. I also remember that many old heirlooms needed the help of folx who understood how to improve the right qualities of our plants..

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Me, too. I can type faster than I can think OR proofread.

I'm grateful for the spell-checker in my new browser!

>> I love OP and heirlooms

Me, too, again. But I sure like Sungold F1 cherry tomatoes! Over a period of years, I hope to try the imitators that try to re-create the Sungold taste and vigor in a stable OP strain.

'Large Sungold Select'
'Sun Gold Select II'
'Big Sun Gold Select'
'Orange Cherry Tomato

One year I started some fancy F1 Zinnias - extra tall, extra big blooms, fancy shape blooms, and few other types in the same bed. I saved seeds from randomly-pollinated blooms, and next year they were the most generic, bland, common zinnias you could imagine.

But "Zen_Man" over in the DG Hybridizer's Forum has been hand-pollinating and selecting wild and crrrrazy zinnias for generations. He has some bloom forms that out-outrageous a Punker's hairdo, and some blooms with color splashes that look like an explosion in a paint factory. Or as if those zinnias "took too much of that LDS in college". Maybe not very stable, or not stable enough to market or register ...

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

The sungolds WERE awesome! Just perfect flavored. Wish the bugs hadnt gotten so many, but I did love em.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

An d for me, their flavor survived more cool nights than even Stupice did. I was tryi8ng to show off to a friend that I could grow tomatoes even though summer never got warm, and gave her a Stupice tomato from a plant that had tasted pretty good a few days before.

She thought it was rotten and spat it out. I checked, they all tasted like cardboard that had been soggy for week or so. I later realized that there had been some slightly cooler nights since I had last harvested.

The Sungold were still sweet.

White City, UT

So much information. Very interesting to read, and gives me a lot to think on, and absorb.

Thank you all so much for the replies, and knowledge you have.

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

You are getting snow up there in Salty, do you cover your plants when you set them out? Snow isnt as bad as the ice fogs you get, but do protect the plants from the ice touching the plants. Good luck.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Rick - your explanation regarding GMO's is the best I've read. Thank you.

Personally, I think foods that have been engineered should be so labeled. I am against having herbicides, such as Roundup, and pesticides, fungicides, miticides (and any other 'cides) in my food, and will do everything possible to avoid them.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

It doesn't have to be GMO to have been treated with a (....'cide). They have been spraying crops for years (crop dusters), way before GMOs.

Bee- i totally agree. Ill i ask is that they label GMOs that are in our food, that way WE can decide.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree about labeling food - but if random sources of corn and cottonseed oil might already be or probably are be GMO, I think almost any processed food in any non-specialty supermarket would have to be labelled "may contain some ingredients from GMO".

If that caused food processors to set aside some lines for non-GMO corn only, and every intermediate product made from them was also split in to two product lines ("no-GMO content" and "may contain..."), and then then the final processed consumer products were also split into "GMO-Free" and "may contain" products, it could be done.

But I suspect that the extra stocking and distribution costs would make both products cost more. Having twice as many SKUs in a warehouse (stock keeping units) and distribution chains does increase costs.

I would expect the increased production costs to raise the price of "non-GMO" consumer food products a lot, and "may contain" products a little.

I'm just sure that the big agri-corps and processing centers wouldn't take a profit hit. Consumers (and maybe farmers) would pat the in creased costs. We aren't as organized, or as tight with regulating agencies, as businesses can be.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

thanks so much for the weekend gardener link. It is very helpful.

you are always so full of great information.
I love to grow greens in the fall. It is almost impossible to grow them here in the spring because they bolt really fast.
I grew Bok Choy and Chinese cabbage before, but I am curios of the taste of Tatsoi and Komatsuna.
How is their flavor compared to Bok Choy?
I grew and didn't like the taste of Broccoli Raab because too spicy.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

drthor - you're welcome. I refer to the weekend gardener link frequently :)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks very much, drthor! I prefer to say that I'm full of opinions, and only call it 'information' if someone agrees with it for reasons of their own. I'm sure that some would say that I'm full of other things that should ideally be composted before being spread thickly on garden beds. ;-)

>> Tatsoi and Komatsuna.

Milder than mustards or Broccoli Raab. Maybe a little more mustard flavor than Bok Choy or Napa or Michihili cabbage. Tatsoi is usually spoken of as suitable for salad. Of course young leaves are milder, and "cooked" is milder than "raw".

Even a light steaming or quick toss in hot oil counts as "cooked". Because I like the sweet crunchy ribs or petioles, I hate to cook Bok Choy so the3 stems are more than warm all the way through.

Especially if you save seeds, you can sow thickly in a band and harvest 3-4" baby leaves after 20-25 days. Or even harvest seedlings in 10-15 days with 1-2 pairs of true leaves, and call them "micro-greens".

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Tatsoi is very frost tolerant. Try a few seeds as much as 4-6 weeks BEFORE before your average last frost!

Komatsuna claims to tolerate most conditions, YMMV.
Komatsuna "Spinach Mustard" B. rapa var. komatsuna (turnip family)
OP Very easy to grow. All seasons: tolerates heat and cold & common diseases

Or count back 30-50 days from the first summer killing heat, and try direct-sowing or winter-sowing a few cold-tolerant varieties of this or that Brassica in a sheltered spot, or as well-hardened off transplants. One might surprise you with an early spring crop. And later sowings are bound to give you some small leaves for spring salads.

Tatsoi seems most likely for an early-early spring crop. At least some varieties are cold-hardy down to 15F! It is slower-growing and less leaf-per-square-foot than Bok Choy.

Here are some names that claim cold-hardiness:
Baby Bok Choy - 'Mei Qing Choi' - Hybrid 35-40 days extra early green stem, tolerates heat & cold
good bolt resistance
Bok Choy Dong Zhi - F1 -green stem - B. rapa Chinesis Group - strong cold tolerance, late bolting

There are Michihili cabbage that claim cold tolerance. You couldn't get heads from them in the spring, but maybe some leaves for salad?
‘Jade Pagoda’ Michihili F1 70 days - cold tolerant - crisp for salad - close planting gives smaller heads
Tainong 'Nanjing' Michihili F1 70~75 days - Strong tolerance to cold and many diseases

Chinese cabbage / Napa / Michihili LEAST likely to accept cold. There are some unusual "loose-headed" Chinese cabbage that might be more cold-hardy ...
'Chirimen Hakusai' Chinese Cabbage Loose Head Type.

Some varieties of Bok Choy & Chinese cabbage claim more cold tolerance or more heat tolerance, or both ... but I doubt any Brassicas will tolerate Texas-summer-heat.

BTW, maybe some Bok Choy are tolerant of cold, even light frost. I always thought not, but I find mixed advice in what I read. Also, one of my Bok Choy seeds forgot to sprout until very late fall this year, and I've been watching that oddball grow right through the winter. I have mild winters, but we've had plenty of frosts, and it was "supposed" to bolt in frost.

There is a VERY mild modern Brassica green called 'Tyfon' or 'Holland Greens'. A cross between stubble turnips & Chinese cabbage, but now a stable OP variety. Does it put you off to know it was developed to be a forage crop or cover crop? The young leaves (20-30 days) are suitable for salad or cooked greens, but don't have a lot of flavor. You can cut-and-come-again, but older leaves get tough and hairy.

I suspect that most Brassicas are milder when grown with consistent moisture and plenty of NPK, and not too hot (I think that "Texas warm" is like "Brassica hot".)

Then there is an Italian heirloom leaf broccoli 'Spigariello Liscia' or 'Broccolo Spigariello' or
Brassica oleracea var. 'Spigariello'. VERY cold tolerant, like 25F after seedlings are established. It overwintered for me. But DTM is 45-65 days, so it would probably not be a spring c rop for you. Its leaves and tips are strongly broccoli-flavored, but not mustardy-spicy.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

thanks so much.
I will give them a try next fall.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

When do you start your michihili (man that is hard to spell!) type cabages? I have tried two varieties over the past four years and have not had problems with them heading up.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

This year will be my first year branching out into Michihili, and I planed to try "the easy season", namely a fall crop. Starting them in early August would give me around 70 days to frost, so I should try small sowings every few weeks from July through late August to see what works best.

I got busy this spring, so I haven't started any indoors. I figure I will direct sow some around May to see what they think of MY spring weather. Since PNW summer is a lot like other peoples' spring, I might get salad results starting anywhere from May through August. But some local sites I found recommended fall for Michihili, even here in the PNW.

M y spelling problem with it is remembering the extra "hi", and where it goes.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

That is how I started mine, started planting out in mid-June and worked my way up to late August. Mine seemed to do fine into December at least. They do need some frost to really bring out the sweetness. I read an article where a fella' had a refrigerator in his garage and filled that up with Michihili every November and used it up that way....

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