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Starting indoors for elementary school plant sale

Posted by gardengnometx Texas 8b (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 10, 12 at 13:30

We are having a plant sale at my son's elementary school to raise money for the pta. It is scheduled for about 6 weeks from now, and I already have some stuff started. I am an experienced gardener, but have no experience starting transplants; I live in 8b and have always planted transplant tomatoes and direct sown most other garden crops.

We have a nicely-equipped greenhouse that is new and well-built, but lacks lighting. We don't have the funds to get good lights. Yet. I would like to start the seeds for at least some time in the classroom if possible. My experimental setup at home has a largish clamp lamp with a 100W full-spectrum incandescent (it's gonna be too hot, I bet) bulb over a tray with coconut coir in plantable pots. I also have some south window light and a white posterboard (to be alum foiled) but some classrooms don't have much natural light. I have been watering with foliar-strength Hasta-Gro half the time. What is my best bang to buck choice for lights?

This is just a pilot project and people are going to want to support the pta and all, but I don't want to sell crummy plants. What are some good choices? I was thinking tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, basil, marigolds etc, squash.

I apologize for the open-endedness of my question but I would love to know what you sagely plant folks think.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Starting indoors for elementary school plant sale

Lights are pricey. I'm partial to Hydrofarm 4ft 8 bulb T5 HO fitures with 6400k bulbs but they are about $200 on ebay (new). They only cover about 4-5 flats but do run a lot cooler then most other type lights so better if kids are around them. If you have good natural lights you can get away with fewer bulb units (a lot less) or look for used units but ask how old the bulbs are. The more light the better the plants. good luck ...

RE: Starting indoors for elementary school plant sale

Our club has a greenhouse with natural light where we will plant tomatoes in sixpack cells the 7th of March. The cells are on heat mats at 70 degrees. Three weeks later on March 28 they will be transplanted into 5 inch pots, still in the greenhouse, but off the heat mats. Three and a half weeks later they will be sold. We sell 1500 to 1800 per year, with around 50 varieties. I hope our experience may be some help to you. Each cell is sown with two seeds, the excess is snipped off at soil level. We seldom have any vacant cells. As a non profit we get old seeds donated, which work very well. Al

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