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Some newbie questions

Posted by lucilleclifton Zone 4 (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 17, 10 at 22:51

I will search the forums for answers to this too, but I'm very excited to be starting my first garden at our new house and I have some questions. I will be building raised beds for herbs and veggies. A lot of our yard is surrounded by mature maple trees, so the food garden will get a mix of shade and sun. Flowers and some other plants (basil, tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets) will be container gardened on sunny front porch.

OK, on to my question!! I bought the kind of starter pots that they say you can just plant right into the ground (Jiffy pots). So, my question is, what seeds should I start ahead, and what ones should I direct seed? Transplanting tender young seedlings should not be an issue since I will just plant the Jiffy pots right in the raised bed when the time comes. (I am skeptical about whether the Jiffy pots are really that degradable.) Right now the only thing I plan to direct sow is lettuce, and spinach.

Here are my other plants-- are there any I should NOT pre-start? I have a black trays with clear plastic greenhouse dome near a sunny window to start these in. Thank you for your help and comments!

Veg and Herbs:
Catskill Brussels Sprouts-- I know to plant in the ground in fall, but when should I start the seed then? Now? Summer?
Bleu of Solaise Leek (I know I'm late, started tonight)
Pea, Amish Snap
Cilantro, Slo-Bolt
Oregano, Vulgare
Herb, Genovese Basil
Herb, Rosemary
Parsley Giant Of Italy
Pink Ponderosa Tomato

Ball's Improved Orange Calendula
Sensation Mix Cosmos
Flower, Blue Poppy
Dahlia tubers

Here are my planter pots, which it says you can just plant right in:

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Some newbie questions

Hi Lucille - Congratulations on your new garden! First you will want to read through the FAQs here (blue link on the top of the front page) as well as some of the other discussions already running on your basic questions about which to start ahead of time.

Second you will want to read through some of the many discussions here on the problems with using peat pots. A search using 'peat pots' will pull them up for you. Unlike the manufacturer claims they can't be just planted directly in the garden without problems. Please plan to strip away the majority of the pot when planting. Also know in advance that you will have to monitor the watering of your seedlings closely as the pots tend to wick the water away from the plants.

BS seed is started here in late July for fall planting (they need a frost before harvesting) so in your zone I would "guess" you'd start them sometime in mid-late May or approx. 90 days before your first frost date.

All your herbs can be started 6 weeks before your planting date except the Rosemary and Parsley as both are very slow to germinate. Peas are usually direct seeded although you can pre-sprout them and then plant. Tomatoes are started here 6 weeks before planting date but I'd give them a couple of extra weeks in your zone. And you will want to stick with early varieties for the best result.

You can get some good advice from other local growers on planting times and varieties to use in your zone over on the Regional Gardening Forums. Just pick the one for your neck of the woods.

All of your flowers are quick to germinate (assuming good growing conditions are provided) so I wouldn't rush any of them. 4-5 weeks before planting date is good. Poppies are generally direct seeded and don't like to be transplanted.

Good luck and I hope this helps.


RE: Some newbie questions

Dave has given you good advice.
Brussel Sprouts do not freeze easily, but need a warm soil to start in.

Peas like to sprout in cooler soil and are considered a cool weather vegetable. Both of these can be started in May.

As for your herbs--cilantro I have never grown---
Oregano is a perennial that will come through your winters just fine. It grows like a weed--
Basil is a very tender annual, don't set it out until there is no thought of frost--
Rosemary is a tender perennial, it will not over winter in your area. It is best to buy a new plant every year(or if you have a sunny place to over winter it indoors) and strip and dry the leaves as fall approaches--
Parsley is a biennial. It grows one year and sends up a shoot that looks like dill with it's seeds. If you plant it outside in the fall it will do this the next year and you can collect the seeds.
Tomatoes of course should be started indoors. Make sure you have holes in the bottom of your planter. They will need lots of water grown in a pot especially if it's in a hot dry place. An 18 inch planter would be better than a pail.

As for your flowers--
Calendula has been around forever. You can spread it around in your flower beds any time now. It does not need starting indoors unless you want early plants. It will drop it's seeds and come up the next spring.

The rest should be started indoors.

I hope you have some kind of light set up or somewhere where the get lots of direct light. Nothing will do well just grown on a windowsill.

You are right about the peat pellets. They are not near as good as a good soilless mix in pots. You will have to peal off the outer layer when you plant. When they get dry squeeze them a tiny bit to loosen up the peat. Peat is very hard to rewet when it clumps.

Welcome to the world of gardening. There is nothing so frustrating or rewarding. You will get lots of advice and read things and try them and find the way that works best for you.
Good luck

RE: Some newbie questions

I'd direct sow the cosmos, too.

RE: Some newbie questions

Thanks everyone! I've been reading the other helpful advice and FAQ posts too. I wish I hadn't wasted money on those stupid Jiffy pots! I also just used potting soil mixed with worm castings for a starter base, not a soil-less mix. I guess you just learn, don't you!

RE: Some newbie questions

no, jiffy's have their uses. They are really useful for taking softwood or semi-ripe cuttings. I put my 38mm ones in a 40 module seed tray - they fit snugly and do not dry out so much. As long as you peel off the outer net when you plant, you should do OK. Also, if using peat is against your principles, you can get peat-free ones. They are too expensive for anything other than special seeds that are large enough or scarce enough to justify using a jiffy.

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