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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Danilesville, PA
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    starting seeds

    Hi all,
    I am someone who gardens for my own enjoyment and once again, I would like to start seeds in-doors this year. I'm looking for advise on the best room conditions and materials to use. I don't have a greeenhouse but will place the trays in a cool room with indirect light. I have used cheap trays in the past and gotten leggy plants that push the upper limit of the dome. I know that light can be an issue, but would the Park seed bio-dome be a better one? If I buy from Parks, do I have to use their plugs or can I make some from layering newspaper? Also, I read a post from someone who put the tray on a heating pad. Is that a good idea or should I invest in a warming pad. About the mix, what is the difference between vermiculite and perlite? Is it best to use a good potting mix, or seed starter. Trying to get it right this time. Any and all help is welcome. Thanks, Bev

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Wichita,Kansas
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    Iíll take a shot as this one and hope that others will add their experiences as well. I looked up the Parks biodome and it looks good- I like the bottom watering and the idea of venting for air circulation/temp control though I am not sure where or what the vents look like or how they operate. I have heard that bottom heat can be a good thing. When you mention a cool room I am just a little concerned that it might be too cool. So bottom heat might be the ticket. While you can purchase pads made specifically for gardening, if money is tight, it can be accomplished with an electric blanket that you are willing to sacrifice for the cause(check out the local thrift stores or even e-bay but in either case make sure the electrical wiring is still safe). I will let others share their thoughts on bottom heat. It sounds like light is an issue for you(indirect/leggy plants). I think you are going to have to consider a fluorescent light setup. I am going to try to find a link about an indoor rack and light setup. Iím not familiar with using newspaper to make planting medium; I would like to learn more about that myself !
    Regarding potting soil, this is very important. Iím not sure about seed starter mix and wonder if that is just something that places selling seeds try to sell at a premium when in fact potting soil will do the trick. When choosing potting soil, do saty away from anything that appears less than sterile or less than nutritious. For example, we have a local sand and rock company that sells top soil and potting soil in the local Wally Worlds, groceries, etc. I would not use the potting soil on seeds(although I will ammend it and use it on mature plants that I have to temporarily hold in pots but thatís another story related to daylily addiction). I guess the way to sum it up is do not buy the cheapest potting soil that they have. Get something with organic matteróusually peat or sphagnum. You donít have to go top of the (price) line either with Hyponex or Miracle Gro both of which I have had or heard horror stories about. I had Hyponex loaded with bugs and a daylily club member discovered misformulated Miracle Gro soil that held way too much water. I have used Expert brand potting soil from Wally World but donít know if you have that where you live.
    Have you had problems with damping off(stems that inexpicably wilt) or with fungus gnats ? If so,among othet things, I might also suggest a fan(an inexpensive desk fan or clip on fan that will sweep back and forth and that you can place on a timer).
    Iíll look for that light/rack link and edit this post when I find it. Please do check back as there are others on the board far more knowledgeable/experienced than me !

    Found it:
    http://landspro.com/forums/showthrea...&threadid=3213
    Last edited by Dazed_Lily; 01-10-2006 at 09:53 AM.
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"




  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
    Posts
    9,934

    My Light Setup

    and I love it! I only wish I had room for more... Actually, I do, but it would be on the patio, but it is not as warm there in the winter.

    Here's a link:

    http://www.landspro.com/forums/showt...=&postid=15861
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Western Michigan near Muskegon
    Posts
    1,462
    Bev,
    Hi and Welcome to Landspro. I am in a similar zone as you are and last year I discovered winter sowing. There is a post about it here recently titled just that. I suggest you go to GardenWeb and read all about. It really does work and work well. I planted many, many, many, seedlings last year. I am getting things prepared for this year. Now is a good time to start.
    On the subject of seed starting mix vs potting soil. The seed start mix has better drainage and little or no fertizlier mixed in.
    If you use regular potting soil add extra perlite and or vermiculite to lighten the mix, both do the job I prefer using a mix of both, but had excellent results with the seed starting mix last year. So will go with it again, plus it was on sale.
    Counting down to spring,
    Vicki in West MI

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Danilesville, PA
    Posts
    6
    Hi Vickie,

    I really looked at the posting you suggested, just today and I am so excited. I was about to construct or buy shelving and lights, but now I'm going to do winter sowing. I also just came in from my garden, having salvaged a few seeds that didn't get dead headed last fall. They're marigolds mostly, but I can't wait to watch then grow. And, I'll save so much on annuals. Thanks so much for the lead. I copied out many of the pages and will put them in a binder today.

    Bev

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Bev,

    Be careful. There is no exact science here, so all you can do is give it a try.

    Marigold seeds may be abe to survive freezing temperatures, but if you have a warm spell and the seeds sprout followed by a freeze, the slightest freeze will kill the seedlings.

    The plastic containers will provide 4 to 8 degrees protection, but most likely no more than that.

    However, for perennials that require cold stratification, the containerized sowing is great in extremely cold climates. I don't have that climate, so I put them in damp media in the fridge to simulate a cold winter.

    How to know when to do that? Just check the seed package and it will indicate that cold stratification is recommended. Some will germinate anyway, but in my climate, it will take longer. It just depends on the native environment in which the seeds grow.

    I would be cautious of winter sowing marigolds. Even here, they would be difficult to grow in covered containers. However, if I plan carefully, I can start them a month earlier just by covering the seedlings with sheet or something if there is a late frost.

    Good Luck and Enjoy! Spring is not that far away!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Danilesville, PA
    Posts
    6
    Thank you for the note of caution Ann. I think I saved some of the marigold seed to sow inside as well.

    The situation you describe could easily happen here. I wonder what would happen if, in case of a frost, I brought them in and put them under lights?

    I already have lots of seeds outside now. As soon as the packets went on sale, I was buying. The ones I winter sowed indicated they could be seeded outside in early spring. Does that mean that cold stratification is needed? Or is cold stratification the process seeds undergoe when their hard cover freezes and thaws, breaking open the outer cover?

    I wonder if a good indicator of what can be winter sown is the type of seed? Marigolds are fragile, more like tiny stems than seeds. What do you think?

    Bev

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Bev,

    To me, "Seeded outside in early spring" would indicate after the last frost date. Seeds that need cold stratification might simply state to sow outside in the late fall. Not all seed package directions are specific enough for that particular seed. Conditions vary with your location.

    Cold stratification is usually required for one of two reasons or both. The stratication does help to break down the seed coat, AND the 'chill hours' also helps to break the seed's dormancy cycle.

    In the case of Marigolds, the seed itself is not so much endangered by freezes, but the young, new seedling cannot tolerate frost. In fact, most (if not all) mature Marigolds will die if subjected to freezing temps.

    Plants like pansies, dianthis, snapdragons, brocolli, cauliflower and others fluorish here during our winter months. Not only do they survive light freezes, but they actually seem to enjoy them.

    Seed size and seed coat will not make a difference. It's the cultural needs of the plant itself that determines if it will survive a freeze.

    Hope that helps!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Danilesville, PA
    Posts
    6
    Yes, it helps a lot. I will now retrieve those sweet little seeds so they may grow.

    I'm looking for signs of spring everywhere. My mother used to tell me that the red color at the tops of trees was a sign and it's happened. My early daffodils are pushing through. I CAN'T WAIT EITHER.
    Bev

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    9,934
    My paperwhites have completed their bloom cycle and starting to form seeds.

    My early daffodils are in full bloom. I spotted a couple of the later to bloom ones opening in between the drizzling and heavy rains today.

    Forsythia is in full bloom. Carolina Jasmine is in full bloom. Camellias are still blooming beautifully.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I am ready for SPRING! This winter has been far warmer than usual, and it is ever so tempting to forget that it is winter only to be hit by a sudden hard freeze.

    Two more weeks for me... Well, Four is MAX!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Danilesville, PA
    Posts
    6
    Daffodils, forsythia and jasmine - mmmm- I can almost smell the jasmine.

    Wow, I'm so excited. Here's what's happening, and the questions that arise.
    After I read your email Ann, I found the seeds on my paper whites. Yippee. Now, 1st of all, if I store them in an envelope, in a cool, dark shoe box, is that good? (I can't believe they're going to create a bulb.) I Could it be a heavy plastic tool box, or is the plastic not good? When do I start the paperwhites for next year?

    I erected a make shift grow center in my office with 2 shop lights setting up on end pieces of wood. Under the lights I'm germinating trailing vinca and Salvia-Snow Nymph, free seed from wintersown. I have transplanted 10 salvia into peat pots. They look amazing. I'll be transplanting the vinca and remaining salvia in about a week.

    To my great surprise, when I went outside to add tomatoes to my winter sown group, I found that all of my allysum seed has germinated. I ran in to check Vickie's list of what can be winter sown and like many plants I have out there, they are not on the list - nor is nasturtium... They are also under the lights. We are expecting freezing temperatures this week -lucky I saw the little sprouts.

    We have 5 cats in the house, all of whom like to sleep on my long extended desk top. A couple of them have found space around the lights, on top of my computer, on the scanner. But I just had to save the little chunky one who jumped up onto the plastic and slid back off. I had to give her an arial view from my arms, now she's exploring.

    I have to plant more seeds now - love this adventure!

    Bev

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Bev,

    Sow the paperwhites in a pot outside after the last chance of frost. It wouldn't hurt to keep them in the cool, dark shoe box or fridge until then.

    Normally, I just scratch the surface of the soil and sow them directly, then I forget about them until I see them the next winter. I have no idea how long they take to become blooming size, but I suspect they require 2-3 years like most other bulbs.

    Keep in mind that all of my paperwhites stay in my garden year around. They go dormant in the summer and begin to show new growth in late fall or early winter so I don't have to worry about protecting the seedlings. Most of the time, they simply self seed.
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    598
    Mother nature generally knows when seeds should be planted. Some hang onto the plant throughout winter, others until fall, and some drop immediately. The time to plant is usually when the seed would naturally drop, unless you are growing the plant outside its normal zone.

    Narcissus seeds are soft, and have little or no protection from evaporation, so they must be planted early, or protected from drying until they can be planted. It may take several weeks for them to germinate if you plant them inside. Otherwise, if planted outside with a thin covering of mulch, leaf mold, or light soil they should hold until the 'time is right' for them to germinate. Be prepared for a long wait, up to 3 years, for blooms. But the resulting plant will be 'tailored' to your environment and weather patterns, and will last for many years.
    You may not recognize the new little plants; they look like fine green hair and appear to be much too weak to ever survive.
    Last edited by Tom; 02-26-2006 at 05:53 PM.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Thank you, Tom!

    Everyone, I am having cable problems.
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


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