Can I grow seedlings in garage and roll them outside every day?

waterstarApril 5, 2014

Has anyone tried growing their seedlings in the garage on rolling shelves and moving them outside every day? The garage faces south, so they would get direct sun...can seedlings take that?

My greenhouse is not built yet and I will have more seedlings than I can handle in my house.

Here in 7b the night temps should not be too cold and if I do get a cold snap I could carry them all indoors for the night or run a heater.

I'm new to seedlings, but not to gardening. I'm germinating them with the paper towel method.

What do you think? THANKS IN ADVANCE...( :

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

Not into direct sun. Not without hardening them off first and that is a gradual process. Any pronounced change in environment - temp, heat, sun exposure, wind, etc. requires a period of adjustment for the plants first or you can kill them within hours. Even GH plants still have to be hardened off before going outside into direct sun.

If you can tote them back and forth as needed then you will need to find a shaded, sheltered area out of the wind outside for them and then increase their exposure a few hours at a time over several days.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 5:33PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

If I'm to understand you right, you would only be keeping them in the garage during the overnight hours? Otherwise, their whole lives, from germination forward, would be spent outside in direct sun and exposed to the elements? If that's case, hardening off shouldn't be required.

Plants sprout and grow in direct sun outside all the time, in fact, that's how they are designed. The only reason we need to harden off is because plants grown indoors grow for significant periods (often many weeks) without any exposure at all, and therefore, are much more weak, or tender then those that have had a much tougher life of germinating, sprouting, and growing in the outdoors.

Edit to add: I have done this with cool weather plants like lettuce. Often times here on the Colorado Front Range "spring" means a day of 70F with an overnight low of 19F and snow, then 70F again the next day. By the time night temps are finally above the mid 30's, and heavy blankets of snow are not longer a weekly threat, the day time temps are already soaring towards and through the 80's. I sow the lettuce in trays and put them outside from morning to night time that way I can get them started without taking up room under the lights or having to worry about hardening them off.

This post was edited by ZachS on Sat, Apr 5, 14 at 20:51

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 8:39PM
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Hi ZachS,

Your days and nights are more radical than mine, so that is good news to my ears. Mine right now are in 70's with mid 30's at night. But, this winter has been weird and much colder than usual, so I am not going to plant in the soil until about 2 weeks later than usual, jsut to be on the safe side.We could dip into the low 30's or 20's if the pattern we have had this past winter continues. (we had several weeks in the teens, starting in Nov until just 2 weeks ago...not usual).

I potted up about 50 seedlings yesterday..very teeny agastache. So, I thought for the first few days I will have them out of the sun and wind until they can get over the "transplant shock." I thought I'd put them on the lower shelves in the shade of older plants on the shelves above, or even around a corner where they will be shaded by a building.

I am using a moist towel on the bottom of the plant tray with a clay pot (with the hole sealed) to water the seedlings from the bottom. Have you tried that? It sounds neat, but I will have to keep a super sharp eye because I don't know for certain that it will work.

Have you ever used that method for watering? If not, what do you use?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 6:42AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

The crappy part is, this isn't even weird weather, its the norm for where I'm at (in the 8th grade I remember on the last day of school in mid-May it was 75 degrees and full sun one time when I walked to school in a t-shirt. We had 3" of snow on the ground by the time I was walking home, still only wearing a t-shirt haha.)

even in the heat of summer our temperature changes are radical, regularly a good 40-50F difference between the daytime high and overnight low.

For the ones that are already growing, the agastache, they will need some hardening off. The same goes for anything else that you already have growing inside. But, if you just popped the seed in the tray this morning, and it hasn't germinated yet, you should put those trays on top to use as the sun blockers.

I never have used that method of watering. What I use (and I'm going to get reamed for this) is top watering. I know a lot of people, and a lot of people here on GW, recommend against it and I'm not saying they are wrong, but, this is how I have been doing it for several years and I am happy with my results. I started out with bottom watering like everyone recommended, but, I prefer it the other way. I do occasionally use bottom watering, but only if I'm rushing and don't have time to water the individual plants.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 9:28AM
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Oh my, I am so GRATEFUL I don't have your weather pattern!!!!

I put the seeds in moist paper towels and a partially closed zip lock bag indoors 70 F. Within 1 day of germination I pop them into planters. However, this morning I discovered that about another 150 or so have germinated overnight. YIKES. They are germinating in very little time compared to what I expected. I'll be transplanting my head off today.

So far I kept the seeds in the house last eve and put them out this morning. It is cool, 55 degrees out. I have them out of the wind. It is warming a little, but I have to keep watch in case of rain. It it starts to rain I will bring them back in. They are way too teeny.

Some coreopsis popped out yesterday too and they are getting the same treatment as the agastache. They are bigger and not nearly as teeny as the agastache.

As far as how to water...good for you! I am just not a consistent enough person, so I am hoping to avoid killing all of my seeds by not giving them consistent water. ( :

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 1:23PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Yeah, high altitude gardening is it's own unique beast, but everywhere has it's own quirks to deal with when it comes to climate.

Man, that is busy! I have 20 tomatoes a handful of peppers and some basil inside right now, that's about all the work I can handle lol.

I don't plant flowers (this is my first year trying some from seed and it's not going well at all) but it sounds like you have a pretty good plan, should work just fine for you!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:45AM
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I have too many to plant, next year it will be best. Small veggies this year, next year mostly veggies. New to this home...have to get grounds ready. ( :

Have you had luck with peat pots? I hope with the underwater method to keep them moist enough...but know I'm on thin ice. Using them today for Oriental Poppies because I know the roots don't like transplanting. Will get them so moist at the end that I can peel off part or all the bottom (leave sides intact) when it is time to put them in the yard.

20 tomatoes is a LOT. Good for you!!!!! What do you do will all of them? I will only have about 4-6 this year. Sweet 100's and Cherokee purple and a roma for sauce. I will can some, make some sauce too, but I am wondering if it is possible to freeze any? What do you think? Nuts I know.....

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 4:01PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

No, I have never used peat pots and probably never will. I have heard too many horror stories, plus, the plastic ones are reusable year after year so it cuts down on cost. I understand the concern though, with plants that don't like transplanting.

I have found (for vegetables anyways) that as long as you do it when very very young they usually make it through. When I have transplanted things like cukes, beans, and squash, which are all notoriously poor movers, I have had the best luck before the true leaves appear.

It is? Shoot, there's people out there that grow hundreds of tomatoes a year! I will wind up giving away quite a few of them, but I don't thin any of my starts, I just separate the seedlings and grow them all (seeds are too expensive to just kill them after they sprout IMO). Never tried freezing any, though, if you were planning to use them for sauce and stuff I think it would be a perfectly good option.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 4:56PM
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