New to Seed Starting

jane4667(5)March 8, 2011

Hi All,

I have a few specific questions regarding seed starting. I have been gardening for five years, but every year, I've been spending $70 on vegetables. I figured for around the same price, I could start my own seeds this year. Anyways, I was planning on getting this light from home depot:

I am going to put this indoors, so I don't know what to hang it from. I don't really want to spend $80 on a shelving system, so does anyone have any good ideas? Also, I was planning on getting these flats from Park Seeds (and also a variety of seeds from here):

I am going to go with the 48 cells. Has anyone bought seeds from Parks?

I also am not sure where to get the soil. Can anyone recommend this?:

Those are all of the things I can think of now, I also have seaweed and fish fertilizer, so I think otherwise I have everything. Are there other things I should be getting?

I also have had lettuce and spinach seeds sealed in a refrigerator for two years, and I have had seaweed and fish emulsion in my garage for two years, should they still be good?

Thanks SO much, and sorry for all of the questions!

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Hi jane4667

Could I make some suggestions that you may find helpful?

Instead of paying money for something to plant in, you can use various items you probably already have at home. Cups, yogurt containers, the containers from the grocery store that you buy precooked chickens in are awesome, etc. If you don't have a lot of luck with germination your first time around, then you haven't invested in special planting cells. Also, instead of picking a light first, take a look at all the posts with pictures of people's light setups to see if you find something that would suit your needs. There's all kinds of ideas. Then you can go to the store with different things in mind and see if you can purchase them. Keep in mind that most fluorescent fixtures are 48" and shelving doesn't come in that length very often. Last year I used the stand from one of those cheap little plastic covered four shelf greenhouses. DH attached it to the wall to make sure it wouldn't fall over, as they're not too sturdy.

If you read the various threads on the Starting From Seed and Growing Under Lights forums, you'll learn a lot. Also the FAQ's are awesome. =:)

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 7:33PM
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I have three of those plastic mini greenhouse a 2 shelf, 3 shelf and just got a four shelf. I have never had a problem with them not being sturdy but I also don't use them outside. I use 2 ft T12 lights and just got 4 T8 lights (thank you craigslist)that I need to get chains for. The growing under lights forum was very helpful for setup.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:12AM
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Thanks for the advice! I have already ordered my flats and seeds. I decided that I am going to build a setup like the one"biradarcm" has made. I am going to splurge for a five shelf bookcase and attach shop lights to it. I will be using four flats. Each one is 11 inches wide and 22" long. If I set them up widthwise and use two shelves, do you guys think that one two-bulb shop light will work for each shelf. In other words, will two bulbs cover 11 inches in width?

I also am not sure about my soil. At home depot, they carry Miracle gro organic potting mix. Would it be better to get a high quality mix at a garden store or will that work?
(I am posting this in the "lights forum" as well)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 5:33PM
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The only problem I see with the unit that biradarcm has is I prefer not to have open shelving. Water and dirt can get onto your light fixtures, which you don't really want.

If your flats are 11 inches, you'll need two fixtures, which will be four tubes, per shelf. One fixture to cover eleven inches isn't enough light.

As far as the soil goes, if I remember, the FAQ says to get any type of soil mix for "seed starting", but be careful not to get ones that say weed free. I bought mine at Peavy Mart for $3.99.

Also, don't forget a fan. It's really important to help prevent damp off, and it strengthens your plants. When I first planted last year, I didn't do that, and things were much much better once I learned they were important.

Also, one more thing. Read up on damp off. You'll want to know what to do about it before it happens, not after. I used garlic like Doug Green from uses. Just search damp off on his site and you'll find it.

Good luck! It's fun =:)

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:07PM
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Thanks! I am looking forward to it! And I think I'm going to get three fixture (2 for one shelf, and one for another). I think I will just put down some sort of mat underneath. And I will make sure to have some circulation. I will also invest in some good seed starting mix.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 4:53PM
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I just bought everything at home depot. I have yet to assemble it. I bought 3 bags of Jiffy Organic Seed starting mix. I did a quick search and it looks like in the past it hasn't worked too well. Should I return it and get a different brand? Anyone have recent experience with Jiffy?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 1:50PM
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