Seedlings during vacation

Brainerd, MN

I have many seedlings started (in peat pellets and compartment trays) and now find I am going to be going on an 8 day vacation in Mid-March. There is no one who can water them while I'm gone. Any suggestions on helping as many of them as possible to survive, inexpensive watering contraptions, etc. would be appreciated. Most are Dahlias (from seed) herbs, impatiens and peppers. i expect to have those that have sprouted transplanted to 12 oz cups before I leave.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

I wonder if one of those pet water bottle contraptions might help (the ones gerbils and bunnies use)?

Another thought would be took hook up a drip irrigation system hooked up to your kitchen sink! (And don't forget to take pictures, because THAT I want to see!)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'd probably make a greenhouse of some kind over them( and just worry about fungus for 8 days. LOL)

Ferndale, WA(Zone 8b)

Soak them before you leave, keep the heat down in the house, and make a plastic greenhouse over them. I think they'll be fine.
I have an 8x12 inch take-out container (no holes on bottom) full of Japanese Maple seeds covered with the lid, and as long as I don't take the lid off (which is full of holes on top) I don't have to touch it for 2-3 weeks. Already two out of the soil with 2 leaves.

I think you could let them be if you create a well sealed greenhouse effect with non-burning light.

Brainerd, MN

This trip came up unexpectedly and for longer than I would have liked so that is what has created the problem -- seeds were already sown. On the tips about making a greenhouse, I think I can do that using half inch PVC pipe (for support) and window insulation film but I am wondering... do you think I shoud make some small air holes in the roof of it so some moisture can escape?

Also, about fingus (and obviously I am a BEGINNING gardener)... if i do run into that problem and have to resow, will a bleach solution work to kill fungus so I can reuse the seeding trays?

Thank you to all for the helpful information.

Garland, TX(Zone 8a)

I believe some ventilation holes would be a good idea, not only for fungus prevention, but for carbon dioxide - oxygen exchange too.

Another "old-fashioned" method of giving plants a continuous supply of moisture employs a large container of water elevated higher than your plants/seedlings with "wicks" of absorbent material (e.g. cotton rope, fabric) running down and into or around the perimeters of the containers of the plants.

A 10% bleach solution in water has worked fine for me regarding reusing seed-starting equipment. :-)

Brainerd, MN

Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions. Now, of course, I have more questions. :-)

I'll put 2 flourescent lights fixures over the seedlings (which I just transplanted to 20 oz plastic disposable cups with drain holes, but obviously for safety reasons, the light fixtures will have to be outside of the plastic sheeting. Also, I will but the lights on a timer to give the seedlings 16 hours per day of warm/cool light.

(1) about how many inches from the plants should I allow for the eight days I'll be gone? I'm sure I'll need to leave room for them to grow while I'm gone, but then there's also the problem of them getting leggy because of too much distance from the light source.

(2) If I give them 16 hours of warm/cool flourescent light does it make sense for me to move them away from the sunny window, to a darkened room? If left by the window the light fixtures will just block out sunlight for the back half of the trays anyway (I usually rotate the trays when I'm here) plus the baseboard heaters run along the wall under the windows which will probably only make for more temperature variation (mold problems?) and add to the soil drying out faster. I'm thinking of moving the setup to a room that is pretty constantly 60-65 degrees but has no sunlight to keep the temperature and moisture more stable, and relying only on 16 hours daily of warm/cool florescent light.

In case it matters, the seedlings are: zinnia, dahlia (from seed), hollyhock, echinacea, peppers, portulaca, moonflower (daturas), strawflowers, impatiens, parsley, basil and cucumber.

One last note: I did transplant everything into new cups and used Schultz all purpose potting soil (which I believe is sterile) so I wonder if that will help eliminate or at least reduce the potential mold problem.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7b)

Hi michaelangelo~ Hope you haven't left yet~
I too am pondering the same dilemma, with daylily and several other perennial seedlings,~
I have the 20oz cups within some shallow wide plastic shoeboxes in which I bottom water as needed (for me, once weekly~some cups have 10 or so seedlings each) so I plan on just soaking them well before I go (1/2" of water/chamomile tea to reduce fungus knats) also I have a fan going (indirect ventilation) at the same time as the lights. I have my seedlings on a rack with the lights above, not sure if the greenhouse setup is necessary (I'd be worried about ventilation, even with holes, since some seeds have already sprouted~) I put quart sandwich bags over each cup just until they sprout, plastic wrap loosely covered will work too~

I'd move them if you're worried about the conditions of the room, I've seen it both ways~

As for the space between seedlings and lights I think they would benefit best as close as several inches, I have some of mine growing into the lights without any burn (one cool and one warm flourescent light will provide full spectrum) Mine need a trim LOL
Hope you're going somewhere warmer! Good Luck! :) Amy

Otsego, MI(Zone 5b)

I would like to know how your plants survived after your trip, and did you have a good trip?

Brainerd, MN

Thanks for asking and thanks for all the great sugestions. Mopst of them did just fine, as it turned out - 9 days without me. (That may be WHY they did fine!) In the end I elected to keep the room at 60 degress, put the florescents on a (16 hour) timer and just bottom watered them really well right before I left. This was in mid-March and the humidity was still pretty dry. One variety of Dalhlia (Victoriana) grew very fast and I think they wound up leggey (see my recent post with pics in Beginning Gardening asking about this) but most of the others were fine. The echenachia, Hollyhock and Impatiens didn't make it but they weren't dried out - just dark green and wasted looking. So I'm starting new batches of seedlings today. And thanks agin to all who helped. Michael

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