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A couple of more questions before I start

Posted by paulsm z5 (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 10:40

I pretty much have settled on a two tier light stand from Gardner's supply. Yes, it is pricey at just under 500 but I am putting it in a carpeted room we use for an office so it needs to look as much as possible like a piece of furniture.

I do want to have you take a look at the rest of what I am going to put in place so I don't make too many mistakes in this process. Thanks

The stand uses a full spectrum bulb that I understand should work ok.

I will be using Jiffy pots. Any good or bad experiences with these... seems like it makes the transplanting much easier by just burying the pot and all into the containers.
I will go either with the Jiffy mix or a germinating mix from gardeners supply.

I was looking at the domed setups for the seeds. Do these help all that much in the sprouting process...

If it turns out that we have more seeds than the two tiers can accommodate then I plan on rotating the plants on a 12 hour on and 12 hour off basis. Would this be enough light for the plants.

I looked at the underground watering setups and it seemed to be more complicated than what is necessary. Last year we simply misted and later added a tiny bit of water after they had grown somewhat. When we mist we hold it up high so it doesn't knock the small plant over. I did read recently that plants do better from intake of water on leaves than by the roots.

And lastly, we are in the third year of reusing the same soil. I am sure there are no nutrients left in the soil. Any suggestions for what to use. I am buying some tomato fertilizer for the tomato cages but I need something for the roses, flowers and other plants containers.

Thanks



Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

Hi paulsm, Jiffy pots and jiffy-mix are both great. They both work very well, and give your young plants needed nutrients. As for domed setups, jiffy makes these, too. These also work amazingly. It is entirely up to you. You will eventually need the jiffy-pots for transplanting, but I say go with the dome. These little greenhouses work great for starting any type of seed. As you probably already know, you can find them at Lowe's or online at amazon.com for around $10.00, depending on the size. I have a 72 and three 12's (windowsill size), all have sprouts in them.


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 11:59

You might want to take a search through the posts on the jiffy/peat pots before deciding for certain on those, Man-Go sounds like he/she hasn't encountered problems with them but many of us have.

I have an issue keeping consistent moisture with peat pots, they are either too wet or too dry and I don't like they way they wick moisture from the sowing medium inside.

If you do use them, you may want to plan on tearing or opening them up and not just planting the pot intact for best root establishment...

Here is a link that might be useful: One of many:


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start PS

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 12:04

I'm not sure I made that clear - you mentioned
"transplanting much easier by just burying the pot and all into the containers":

better if you would open up the sides of the peat pot containing your young plants before planting those in containers or your garden :)


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

If I were you I would go with the 3 Tier if you can fit it. For $70.00 bucks more you get another shelf that can fit four flats...you will appreciate it once you are growing!! I've been growing seeds for 6 years now...I have a set up my hubby made out of 2 x 4's but the same concept. I also use the APS growing system through Gardener's Supply & the germinating mix which I love (don't forget the seedling fertilizer). For transplanting I have used their mix, but now I get a potting mix at a Garden Store, either their brand or Miracle grow is fine. As for the APS, I have several 24 sets and a few of the 12. I mix the germinating mix in those rubbery buckets you can buy through Gardeners (small one) with water so it is nice and moist, not wet. Fill the mix in the APS, add seeds, spritz with water and place the dome over. Depending if you need light or not for germination you can place by window, or put on stand with or without the light on. Every night and morning I check the seeds, do a few more spritz to retain the moisture, put the dome back on and before you know it, you have germination. Take off the dome, put on the lights and you are in! I do not fill the reservoir with water....maybe a little, I prefer to spritz and water accordingly on my own (the peg board/capillary mat didn't work for me).

OR, to confuse you...I would still recommend the germinating mix and fertilzer from Gardeners. You can buy the cell packs and flats at your local garden store. Use whatever size cell packs, same concept with the mix and buy domes to cover. I have great luck that way too. The pods are ok...I tried and it worked but do remember like the other person said they really, Really, retain moisture... they have killed off some seedlings due to that. Yes, they are easier to transplant but do tear off some of the netting, it seems the roots are too contained in the pods. OK, I'm done...sorry to confuse matters. Good Luck and Have fun! That really is a beautiful stand!!


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

I tried Jiffy pots my first year and wasn't crazy about them for reasons mentioned in the link. They didn't decompose as quickly as I'd like. Also, I'd rather spend my money on other things. I eat a yogurt a day and save the containers for seeds. They're the perfect size to get those seedlings off to a good start, I'm recycling something, and they're free. Just drill or slit a hole in the bottom. So maybe think about what you're throwing away each day and ask if it would make a good seed pot. May be the perfect excuse to take up Jell-O snack puddings. ;-)

As for the light I think 12 hours is typically what they consider the minimum. I'm curious to know what you're growing. Zone 9 Texas? Depending on the time of year, you might just be able to leave them outdoors and bring them in at night if the temps get low. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself when I'm reading this forum is that lots of people here live in cold climates where there's snow on the ground and the earth is frozen. You have more options in a milder climate.

I only germinate my seeds indoors (where they don't need light) then move them outside when they sprout, only bringing them indoors at night. It's a lot of moving around, though. I do have a light set up in my garden shed as sometimes I just want to put them there, set the timer and forget about them. Another reason why the yogurt containers are nice--the soil stays moist for days on end.


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

After reading through the comments from the jiffy pot link I have decided not to use the jiffy pots. I originally wanted to use the plastic cell trays. The vendors do not always list the size or the thickness of the plastic. My thought was say if I plant 11 cells of a particular plant I could then take a pair of scissors and cut that block off to better control the planting. I ordered a couple of different sizes so it is going to be hit and miss until I find what I want. I can also revert back to what we used last year which was supermarket type plastic cups and punch a couple of holes in the bottom of them.

I looked at the three tier stand and it was about 160 dollars more than the two tier. Just getting into this I had to draw the line somewhere so the purchase of the two tier stand. Also, the height of the three tier was the same height as the two tier so that meant less space available between the plant and the light. The vendor had just raised the price of the two tier to just over 500 but when I talked to him he gave me the prior price of 489.

Do you think that when I get to the hardening off phase that if I take the plants out around 9 am and leave them out say till 11am on the table under an umbrella for about 3 days in a row that would be sufficient.

Also in the room where the plant stand will be I have a ceiling fan. Once the seeds sprout if I run the fan for about 3 hours a day would that be sufficient to avoid damping off problems.

I am in zone 5, chicago. I will be growing 4 different types of tomatoes in two cages I got from gardners supply. Also various types, about 15 to 20 flowers. We also overwinter 5 rose bushes, a tropical hibiscus tree (large pink flowers all summer long)and a tall hibiscus tree. The two rose bushes I like the best are the white Pope John Paul and the dark red climbing Don Juan.

I bought some tomato fertilizer for the tomato cages and some regular fertilizer for the other plants. My understanding is to put about 2 cups in each cage or large pot with a little extra in the transplant spot. I still am not sure what side dress means unless it is to simply mix a small amount of fertilizer in say the top couple inches of soil once the plants start to produce fruit. The last two years we have only used fish emulsion.

Thanks for the responses


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 18, 11 at 20:31

I think you'll find that a little short on hardening off time - can you aim for at least a week and gradually introduce stronger light?. Those approx 2 morning hours for three days isn't going to prepare them for full afternoon sun. Patience is really the key here - we've probably all either sun or wind burned seedlings at some point and it's a very disappointing experience. The linked article explains the hardening off process so well I keep it bookmarked.

Hopefully that will be enough with your fan. If the timing works out for hours @ home, you might want to consider splitting that time and running twice a day for 1-2 hours instead of all the 'fan time' at once.

Do I understand correctly you'll be growing at least the tomatoes in containers? Side dressing means apply fertilizer a few inches away from the base of the plant - wash off any fertilizer touching the stems, water in. I usually avoid dry fertilizer products around plants and especially in containers myself, its much too easy to overdo and burn roots. IMO, most fertilizer products have package recommendations for amounts much stronger than is necessary; I rarely use a fertilizer more than half strength and prefer a liquid that can be mixed with water for container plantings. It's much harder to over apply and damage plants with a liquid product, at least for me :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Hardening Off


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

>> My thought was say if I plant 11 cells of a particular plant I could then take a pair of scissors and cut that block off to better control the planting. I ordered a couple of different sizes so it is going to be hit and miss until I find what I want. <<

Some nursery flats have space between them making it easy to cut them apart, some don't. In the future, the best thing to do is to look closely at the images. You can still cut the ones apart that have no space between them (they share the top) but you have to use care with the scissors!

>> Do you think that when I get to the hardening off phase that if I take the plants out around 9 am and leave them out say till 11am on the table under an umbrella for about 3 days in a row that would be sufficient. <<

Not even close! Start out with that amount of time but not under the umbrella (unless it is extremely windy) and add an hour or two every couple of days until they can stay outside all day and night.

>> I am in zone 5, chicago. I will be growing 4 different types of tomatoes in two cages I got from gardners supply. <<

If these are typical "cages" - the round kind, more than one plant per cage is too many. You can figure roughly 2.5 sq. ft. per plant.

Mike


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

In reading through the link on hardening off it was for sure that I rushed this part of the process last year. I will have a little more patience this time around.

The tomato cages I use are the large containers from Gardeners supply that are roughly 14W 21D 30H. The cage extensions are roughly the same dimensions and about 19H so with 4 extensions I go up about 6ft. I plant two plants in each cage so I think I am ok there. What is nice about these cages is that they are on casters so I can move them about during the day and put them out of the way at night against the wall. We have a small deck with crazy sun patterns so the ability to move them works out quite well. Everything else is in either 3 or 5 gallon containers.

I will run the ceiling fan a hour or so in the morning and then again in the afternoon. If the fan is too strong at low speed then I will buy one of these small personal fans to hook up near the plants.

Morz8... We have used either seaweed or fish emulsion for the last two years. How often do you fertilize when you use this water based type of fertilizer...

I still need to lay out a grid for planting times for each of the plants. Most of the seeds have come in along with the grow stand. I just need to take the xmas tree down this weekend and get started on everything. Not to get ahead of myself but I would think there are certain things I could grow during the winter when I am not working with the plants for spring. I will have to take a look at that as it sure would help to brighten up the long grey winter months.


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 25, 11 at 15:32

I'll fertilize approx every 14 days but mixing the product to about half the recommended strength. And I can't say that same timing would work in your climate where you will likely have some summer heat and will be watering (flushing) a container more often than I will here in my cool and cloudier zone. There are several/many growing in containers on the tomato forum, an especially popular subject :) I think there is a good chance you can find a 'neighbor' growing there :)


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RE: A couple of more questions before I start

You've gotten a lot of good advice. I would add:

1. I'm not sure 12 hours is enough time under lights for the seedlings. Recommended time is 14-16 hours and many people leave them on longer. I recognize your space constraints, I have the same type of rack, but that may not be enough time.

2. Are you sure you read that seedlings do better from intake of water on leaves than by the roots? All of my information says that seedlings are best watered from below and then the water should be removed from around the roots. Can we get some clarification on this from others please?

3. Maybe you should retire the 2 year old soil, or at the very least mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with fresh seed starting mix for optimal results. Either way you'll need to fertilize once the seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves. Any good fertilizer will do but be sure to read the label and buy one that is approved for vegetables if that's what you are growing.

Have fun!


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