Some Observations

paulsm(z5)May 10, 2011

Feel free to correct me if you think I am wrong or embellish my comments if you wish...

The manual that came with my grow light stand recommended lowering the lights to about six inches above the plants once they had sprouted. I think that is way to low as I fried the first pot I put under the lights. I have now raised the lights to around 16 inches or better. If I get leggy plants then I guess I will just have to deal with that.

The last frost date in Chicago is around May 15th. I worked backward from that date to arrive at my planting date. None of these plants are going to be ready to take outside next week. I could have started planting at least one whole month earlier perhaps even more.

Even though we bought the multi seed trays we actually wound up using plastic salad and cookie containers. The salad containers are about 4 inches deep. I am not looking forward to transplanting these tiny sprouts into plastic cups. I assume I can not just leave these plants in the original containers that we filled with Jiffy seed starting mix. I would guess that once they are around six inches tall we should try transplanting. I am thinking that next year I will fill the first two inches of the container with regular potting soil and the next two inches with the Jiffy seed starting mix. That way I could just leave them in the original container until time to plant outside. Any problems with this approach...

I bought a couple of the tools to use to plant the seeds. None of these seemed to work very well. I think I will try to make up one that I think will work better.


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Lights - You dont say what kind of lights you are using. Most of the people on this forum are using standard shop lights with t12 or t8 bulbs and 3-4 inches from the lights is about right. Check with the "growing under lights" forum if you have high powered lights.

Timing - Its generally better to plant out your plants when they are young than having them in the pots to long. The longer you have them inside the more likely they are to get stressed out in pots that have become to small for them. If you start earlier definitely plan on transplanting them a few times.

Transplanting - Its better to transplant seedling early if you are sowing in group containers. the longer they are in there, the more the roots intertwine and the more damage you do when dividing them. When they are starting the second set of true leaves is the standard time - I do it after the first set of true leaves. They will grow just fine in the Jiffymix- thats not a problem, I wouldnt use potting soil, but some people use potting mix in the bottom half of containers. A lot of this will depend on what you are growing (you dont say) Most seeds will germinate just fine in a decent potting mix. I only use the extra fine jiffy type mix for tiny tiny seed.

Tools - It has never occurred to me to buy a tool for planting seeds. I use pieces of old window blinds (even a new set is probably cheaper than the tools they sell). Cut in to pieces with the ends rounded off or cut into points, they are great for managing the small seeds, and the rest are cut up for markers. Longer pieces work well to lift seedling out of the six pack cells that I use sometimes. Very versatile and free.

People handle all of this in at least a dozen different ways. Ultimately you have to figure out what works best for you.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 7:46AM
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Here my observation. I will start the seeds in cells, could be moss cells or plastic cells. This makes transplanting them to 4 inches pots simple and easy. These seedlings are so fragile and if you are not careful during the transplanting you lost them.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:22PM
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If you hold your hand under the light palm down, and the back of your hand is not warm, the lights are not too close. I've had plants growing around the bulbs without hurting them.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:08AM
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