Peat Pellets or flats with seed Mix?

bdobsFebruary 7, 2009

Hi guys

1st time I will be growing my Tomatoes and Peppers from seed.

Last question...for now :)

For a first time newbie, which method do you think will result in less headaches for me.

Peat Pellets or Starter mix in a 72 cell flat?

I currently have both....A jiffy 72 piece pellet set and a 72 cell flat with a bag of Jiffy starter mix

I plan on potting them up to 3" or 4" pots once they get their second set of true leaves.



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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Lots of previous discussions on the pros and cons of the pellets - mostly cons as they have some serious potential problems. Search peat pellets.

Personally I use them on a few things that don't require interim transplanting - peas, corn, lettuce, etc. but I recommend avoiding them on peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and such as they need an interim transplant to develop feeder roots before going to the garden and the pellets make that nigh on to impossible.

The pellets tend to wick water and so stay too wet - that leads to root rot and damp-off - so if you use them do so with care. Also be sure to remove the netting before transplanting into the garden and make sure the entire pellet is buried deeply.


Here is a link that might be useful: Peat pellet discussions

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 2:11PM
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Last year I started about 40 heirloom tomatoes, 20 bell peppers and cantalope in peat pellets. Yes, I did pot them into 20 oz. plastic cups at the proper time and when I did this I cut open the netting on one entire side. The plants flourished and I watched the roots develop through the plastic. When it was time to put in the garden, just removed from the plastic cups and planted (after hardening off, of course). They went out into my garden as well as some friends' gardens with no problems at all. Maybe it was luck or maybe I did everything right, but I know I'm going to do it the same way this year.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Interesting stuff guys, Thanks!
I may just do them both ways and see my results that way :)

Others experience?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 2:58PM
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I do peat pellets too, I try to pay attention to them not staying too wet, and I do the cutting of the net too. I'd probably prefer the flats if I had the right kind of space. The main thing for either one is just paying attention to them!

Good luck, and don't feel bad if they don't all make it.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 7:47PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Successful tomato growers are like zucchini growers. They plant too many plants and are hard pressed to use them all. Al

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Well I started 144 seeds in 72 Jiffy Pellets, with the notion of planting 10 :)

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 6:18PM
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kurt1117(Zone 6)

"they need an interim transplant to develop feeder roots before going to the garden and the pellets make that nigh on to impossible"

There are larger pellets specifically designed for tomato plants. Jiffy makes a tomato starter greenhouse which comes with 50mm pellets. I wonder if they would still need to be transplanted into larger pots before going into the garden if the larger pellet is used.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 8:12PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

I have used the pellets for many years with zero problems. I just find it easier. In fact, I plant 4 seeds per pellet and pot them up into newspaper pots when I have the time and they are big enough. I might waste a few seeds, but I know I will normally have enough for myself and usually plenty to give away also. I think the key is water from the bottom and don't leave any excess water in the tray once the pellets are saturated. They will need to be checked(that's checked, not watered necessarily) every day. I have NEVER had any problems(knocking on wood) with damping off, etc.. I ALWAYS remove the netting. You can leave them in the peat pots until it is time to plant in the garden, but I don't recommend it. I am sure that the tomato plants benefit from the pot up.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 6:36AM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I'm not too experienced at starting from seed, only done it four years, going on five. I started with pellets, because that was the system I found available, well explained, and conveniently packaged in local stores.

So, I have always used a somewhat hybrid method. Being cheap and not having vast amounts of heated space available for seed starting, I always planted 2-4 seeds per pellet. When they sprout and at least one seedling needs transplanting, I cut the net down the side, and use a knife blade to dig out that seedling to transplant into a small cup mostly filled with starter mix containing fertilizer, then fill in around the edge of the pellet piece with more starter mix.

The rest of the pellet with un-sprouted seeds and/or newer seedlings is re-wrapped in the net and put back in the starter tray. So, using this method, I end up in the same condition I would have by starting in loose fill, but have the (perceived?) benefit of initially having the net to keep the mix together and seeds from floating away when watering, hopefully avoiding unidentified plants.

I have thought about starting in loose mix, but have never found a good explanation of what kind of tray is used, or whether starter mix and seed floating away and intermixing is a problem. If I knew all that, loose mix would probably be a time saver, as the pellets seem to take a long time to wet, and should also be more economical.

But then, I pay little attention to economics when it comes to gardening, or I would not have acquired a greenhouse, compact utility tractor, or Merry tiller.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:26PM
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I went ahead and planted two seeds per pellet. I plan on thinning them down to the strongest one per pellet after they have sprouted and put under the lights for a while.
AFter they start to get their second set of true leaves, I plan on moving the strongest of those up to 4" pots.
I sowed 9 of each variety, and I am hoping I have room under the light for 4 of each. I plan on planting 10 total plants and giving away the rest.
Yeah, 144 seeds for a planned 10 to use in my garden.
A little insurance never hurts :)
I figure I still have enough seeds of each to do about the same next year

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:40PM
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jessicavanderhoff(7 Md)

I love jiffy pellets (jiffy, not off-brand peat pellets,) but would definitely, definitely recommend peeling off the netting after the seeds sprout (before the roots poke through the netting), then dig a little hole in a little cup or pot of soil and plop the pellet right in-- minimal disturbance to the root system.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 5:37PM
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rawb(5, Erie shoreline)

I was going to try the jiffy tomato pellets this yr. But after reading this thread, I was wondering .... If you have/suppose to interim trans plant if the regular seed starting cells and or pellets aren't big enough to sustain the plants for 4 - 6 weeks, then why not just start them in the 20oz cups?

Before reading this thread I was going to post the question; Would the 2 or 3 inch peet pots, round or sqaure be large enough to start seeds and keep the plants in till time to set out?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 7:17AM
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I'm not too sure why not, but I have read that starting them in a small medium such as peet pellets, and then up potting them once they get their true leaves helps with their root growth and stimulation.

Update in my seeds.

I got pretty much 100% germination on all my peppers and Tomatoes.
I sowed two seeds in eac peet pellet. So thats 142 little sprouts of each.
I'm about to start a new thread as I dont know how long to wait till I thin to one seedling per pellet

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:49PM
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The idea of putting multiple seeds in one pellet and thinning them seems very wasteful of seed to me. Why not just put a two or three inch deep layer of starter mix in a shoebox sized plastic container, and planting your seeds in that spaced about an inch to an inch and a half apart. Thus when they come up you don't have to kill half the seedlings because they are two close together to separate without root damage. After you transplant the seedlings any starter mix left in the container you recycle and use again for you next batch of seeds.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:35AM
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I have been using peat pellets,jiffy, for years now. Last year I grew 1000 heirloom tomatoes and many other veggies and plants with them. I have great success with them. The germination rate is close to 100 per cent. I dont cut the netting. I plant them deep in the 4 inch pots, which is easy. I have considered flats and growing medium, but you have to be very careful handling the seedlings and then you have to plant them in plugs, then pots. The advantage is space and cost. For me the peat pellets are easy and effective.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 10:33PM
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I would like to weigh in on this one. I have used peat pellets for several years. I have had great sucess with them, despite many others not having much luck at all. You absolutely must do a few things for them to work. You must keep them moist at all times, and you must remove the netting when potting them up. Other than that, they have worked quite well. I decided, for other reasons, to try a different method this year. I bought some trays/flats & their corresponding 3 inch square plastic pots. I have had even more success with this method than with the peat pellet trays, so I will continue to use it. I think this argument comes down to more of a personal choice, as long as the items I mentioned above are taken care of, if you pick the pellets. I linked my blog below so you can see a comparison of the two methods (in the most recent post, at the top)

- Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Steve's Garden

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 9:15PM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Just wanted to throw out that technically, you don't "need" either. I start my seeds in yogurt cups that I save up through the year, and I use plain old SuperSoil Potting Mix. I get 100% germination, no damping off, no problems at all with my plants, and for some plants, they can go straight from the cups to my beds without the need to pot up.

It may not be practical if you're trying to start 100's of plants from seed. I only get 18 cups to a flat, but for my small home garden, a couple flats is all I need for the seeds I'm starting at any one time. And I really like the idea that I'm getting an extra use out of my plastics before sending them to the recycler.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 9:19PM
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