When to move my veggies out of the jiffy 72 cell pack

Brooklyn, United States

I planted a variety of veggies with different germinating rates. I know the ones that haven't sprouted yet have to stay covered. I'm surprised how fast the other things popped up. My pickle cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini have sprouted and grown about 3-4 inches in 5 days. I put 2-3 seeds in each pod thinking I'd be lucky to get 1 that sprouted except they all did. I'm just wondering if I should keep them in the little jiffy pod under my light until true leaves appear or move and seperate them now into little cups? The roots are coming out of the jiffy paper wrap. I thought maybe I should remove the paper and transplant into cups now before the roots get more entangled.


Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

I think if I were you I would just keep the strongest seedling in each cell and clip the others. I know it's hard to do, but it sounds the simplest with all you've got going on, and you didn't plan on that many anyway.
I'm not familiar w/the jiffy paper thingy, so I can't speak to that.
I've done the same thing as you-planting different things together with different germination times, etc. It makes it hard to sort out at potting-up time, but you're probably like me and don't want that many of each type veggie.

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

I've made the same mistake planting different veggies together in the same flat, and had the problem of 4" tall okra & peppers that had just emerged from the plugs I was using. If you have to, cutting the flat in half you would be able to keep like plants under the dome longer, and move the others to another tray under lights. It's really a matter of proper planning. Plus the fact we learn something new every season we start seeds.

I ordered several different size cell sheets from Greenhouse Megastore that are VERY easy to separate. That makes items with different germination times reside in the same sheet, and moved later. This year I only put 2 seeds in each cell, and had almost total germination. When I put any more in, I had to trim a bunch of seedlings, which EVERYONE hates to do. Just for a quick tip, I use cell plugs almost exclusively any more. They are much easier to transplant, and the root growth in the plugs are fantastic, and you don't hurt the new roots moving them to their new home. The plugs pop right out of the cells, so you don't mess up the sheets nearly as bad as when you use seed starting mix.

The paper around the Jiffy plugs should be removed when you transplant the seedlings, but the whole plug may disintegrate if you're not careful. I've used the big Jiffy tomato plugs for several years, and like them because of their size. With the bigger plugs, they can stay in them for a longer period of time, and basically go straight into the garden, when the time is right. The Jiffy Tomato Greenhouse is half the size of a 1020 tray, so you can put 2 together, and have different types of tomatoes going at the same time, and not having a 72 cell flat going with a bunch of empty spaces.

Sydney , Canada

I have the same problem as "BKGIRL"-I bought the 72 Jiffy pellet greenhouse and planted not only"earlygirl" tomatoes (which are doing good), sweet basil (not too bad), thyme (which has not sprouted yet), then onto forget-me-nots (which are about 3 inches in height and I cannot/don't want to place the lid on because it bends them) alsomorning glory-same as the forget-me-not's) follows by california poppy, just spouted and have such tiny little leave like the tip of a pencil and finally penny blacks (which have yet to sprout). What am I supposed to do with the ones that are grazing and too long for the greenhouse lid, yet the othersthat have yet to sprout need the lid, while the medium one just sprouted! Obviously my first time attempting to garden and I also 'used up some more seeds (at the very first in small green pots I had and filled them with compost and a bit of soil-I do water all of them with 'miracle grow" houseplant food...every week. HELP!

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

The only time I would EVER use a 72 cell tray is for a bunch of annual flowers that are going in a large landscape project. Not many backyard gardeners are going to plant 72 tomatoes, even with a bunch of different types. It will mean having several 1020 trays going at the same time, but you can keep like seedlings going under the domes, and move trays to a "cool room" to keep the plants from getting to "leggy." Greenhouse Megastore has about the best selection of seed trays and domes. I use the 36 or 48 cell trays a lot because I'm projecting to doing market gardening, and will have a 24' X 24' greenhouse set-up for next fall & winter. I've been starting a lot of tomato plants for some of the people who have been working with my medical problems, and they love what I've started for them.

Another plus of using the bigger celled sheets is you will only have to "pot-up" once, because the roots will have more space to grow before they would become rootbound. I'm cheap to begin with, so hitting the "big box" stores is not above my wallet to get pots, carriers, and trays that were destined for the dumpster. Yes, I'm recycling, but I'm saving me a BUNCH of money, and being "green" in the process. Not having to purchase 4 or 500 pots for selling my plants will save my customers a bunch of money. I've developed a group of people at the stores who actually save items for me and I drop by every 3 or 4 days, making my rounds, and pick up a carload of freebies... I've scrounged half a shopping cart or better without really trying, and that includes 2 or 3 gallon rose pots that were going to the trash. It's all good to me...

There are many thoughts about what to use for seed starting. A big bag of starting mix will fill a bunch of trays. Yes, using a lower count tray will use more starter, but you'll have better overall results with healthier plants. You don't want to use a "soil-based" mix because it has many unknown parasites & items that can kill your plants. Many retailers have specialty mixes bagged for their stores that are very good, and fairly economical. Try some different ones in a smaller quantity and see which works best for your situation.

One thing a lot of people don't do is keep records. If you can go back & look at notes, even in the same season, it will refresh your memory as to what you planted, where you purchased seed, when you seeded, and when they germinated. With a simple spreadsheet, and a consistent effort in recordkeeping, you can eleviate repeating bad habits in years to follow.

On the lid problem, you need to remove it as soon as the plants germinate and show the dicot leaves. If you keep the lid on after that, you run the risk of "damping off" the seedlings. Many people water too much and this is the major cause of seedlings not going out into the garden. If the top of the seedling mix looks damp or wet, it's too wet. Gently check down about a 1/4 or 1/2 inch, that will tell you if it's time to water. You don't want to fertilize seedlings until after about the 3rd or 4th week. The roots just aren't developed enough, and many use too strong a solution of liquid fertilizer, which burns the plant.

Another solution is to use a self-watering seed starting kit. Jiffy & Burpee both have some out that look pretty interesting. I've seen some that are 16, 32 or 36 cells, that I may purchase to see what they will do. I've found that gardening is a yearly experiment to see what I'm going to have to do next to get good results. You have to think on the fly, be ready for bad results, and be very happy when it all goes well.

Sydney , Canada

Thanx so much for the advice Kevcarr59! As soon as I read your reply-this is when I took my 72 cell tray OFF the heater! ;) So this is WHY they're growing like crazy, but not producing their "true leaves"...makes sense now...and I did take my lid off asap...even though there are some that have not sprouted yet...? Perhaps they take a bit longer to germinate. I also re-potted in two egg cartons the jiffy discs (tries to remove as much netting as possible without damaging the roots that were already through the net-so I cut around the root-they seem happy under the light which I placed them under :)
Again, Thank-you so much! Looking forward on hearing about your tomato plants!

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

Keeping the heater on, and the room warm will make the seedlings grow too fast and become "leggy". Learned that the hard way this season, but like I said, we all learn SOMETHING every day and every season. Just have to put it in the file cabinet in the back of the brain, and open it up once in a while.

Actually got the first bloom on the Cherokee Purple tomato plant. Happy that it's going well, plus like the growth of the Aunt Ruby's German Green. It's the only one that's lasted, had given one to a friend to put in her garden, but on transplant the stem broke, so it was a little upsetting.

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