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my first seedling setup (with pics)

Posted by coeng NE NJ (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 26, 13 at 23:42

So I planted 72 partitions tonight and all I have to say is that I hope I did it right because this was my first time ever.

After adding soil to the partitions I moistened the surface of each partition with a spray bottle then made a hole in each according to the depth for each seed per the instructions. After I added a few seeds in each partition I gently used my wooden ID sticks to delicately mix the seeds into the soil of each partition. I did not top dress the partitions with extra soil so I would not add to the depth of the seeds.

After all 72 partitions were done, I placed the flat on a heating mat (which sits on styrofoam insulation) and placed my new growing light a couple of inches from it.

See photos below. The third pic shows the light raised so that you can see the inside of the flat better.

A couple of questions:

1) Is the growing light too close?

2) The 2" lid has side vents that I opened half way to let some air in. Is this OK? Should I open the vent at the top of the lid?

3) Should the growing light be on 24/7 for the time being? Do I need to worry about melting the top of the plastic lid from the heat of the growing lamp?

4) What about watering from this point on? I believe I'm supposed to remove the seedlings from the flat, add water (how much and how often?) to the bottom of the flat and put the seedlings back in so that they could draw the water in from underneath. Right now the only water I added was when I moistened the soil prior to planting the seeds.

5) Is growing in my garage not advisable for any reason? We're getting a late start to the spring here in the Northeast and its not exactly warm in my garage but not exactly freezing cold.

6) I will be out of town for four days next week. Do I need to ask someone to care for them in my absence?

7) Do I need to monitor the temperature of the heating mat and/or get a timer for it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

You don't need a growing light while the seeds are germinating. Once they re germinating turn the light on for 12 hours a day. Also take off the dome once they germinated. As far as watering, they should be fine with the plastic.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

I don't think just moistening the surface with a spray is sufficient. The whole of the medium needs to be evenly moist, not just the surface. Feel the weight of the pots in your hand. Try to remember what it feels like. Then I would add water to the bottom tray, leave for hour or two and then pour off any excess. After that do not water too often. Once you have watered wait until they feel the same weight as they did the first time before watering again.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

The cold may be a problem for you. "Not exactly freezing" sounds like below 40 at night?, and if it is like my garage, it doesnt warm up much during the day due to lack of sun. Some plants can grow in those kind of temps, and the heating mat will obviously help, but depending on what you have planted...............you usually want the air tmps in the room to be at least 55-60 F. Warmer for heat lovers like peppers.

You may need to build a box from styrofoam to trap the heat from your lights, and then leave them on 24/7 until your temperatures warm up.

After looking at your pics again - That looks like a pretty fancy light - it may give off more heat than my cheap shop lights - but I dont think you want to let those seedling get under 45-50 degrees even at night.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

The reason I have the lights on 24/7 now is to add a small amount of extra heat because this setup is in my garage. I will have to get a thermometer today to see what the actual air temp in my garage is and get back to this thread later tonight.

Should I also considering getting a thermometer to measure the soil temp? If so which one would you recommend?


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

What about specific answers to each of my 7 questions above? I need to know sooner rather than later because if I am making a mistake, I need to correct it now.


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answers to my 7 questions

Deleted duplicate post.

This post was edited by coeng on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 9:57


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

I addressed no.4. IMO you did not moisten the medium sufficiently to start with. I also gave you an idea of how to water thereafter.

I have never grown anything using lights so I can't help there.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

1) Is the growing light too close?

1-2" above is what is recommended although it isn't needed until germination happens as already mentioned.

2) The 2" lid has side vents that I opened half way to let some air in. Is this OK? Should I open the vent at the top of the lid?

No, because your soil may already be too dry as Flora said. The tray/cells is loaded with moist potting mix (thoroughly wet and then wrung out), not dry, and misting is not enough. If you moisten your soil properly then you can use the vents if you wish. Most lids do not have them (it is a pay more gimmick) so it isn't really an issue.

3) Should the growing light be on 24/7 for the time being? Do I need to worry about melting the top of the plastic lid from the heat of the growing lamp?

No, once needed on 16-18 hours, off 6-8.

4) What about watering from this point on? I believe I'm supposed to remove the seedlings from the flat, add water (how much and how often?) to the bottom of the flat and put the seedlings back in so that they could draw the water in from underneath. Right now the only water I added was when I moistened the soil prior to planting the seeds.

Then if it was wet you shouldn't need any additional watering until after germination.. if there is moisture on the inside of the lid there is enough water in there. Raise the lid for an hour or so each day to let fresh air in.

5) Is growing in my garage not advisable for any reason? We're getting a late start to the spring here in the Northeast and its not exactly warm in my garage but not exactly freezing cold.

Most of us construct some sort of small enclosure so you don't have to heat the whole area. A simple plastic tent works well and can raise the temp inside the enclosed area by 20 degrees.

6) I will be out of town for four days next week. Do I need to ask someone to care for them in my absence?

Yes because if they germinate they will need to be removed from under the lid ASAP. You apparently have mixed multiple varieties within the same tray but they will have different germination times. One the plant breaks the soil surface it has to be out from under the lid. One reason why many never use covers.

7) Do I need to monitor the temperature of the heating mat and/or get a timer for it?

If it has no thermostat (an optional purchase) it is set to keep soil temp 10-20 degrees higher than the surrounding air temp. Another reason to build an enclosure. If it is 40 in the garage then the heat mat will have to run constantly just to keep the soil temp up to 60.

If you review all the great FAQs here you'll find most of these questions are covered by them, not in detail true, but the basics are there. Some great discussions here too with even more details that the search will pull up on specific questions.

Dave


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

So tonight (24 hours since sowing) I removed the lid and noticed almost every partition was dry except the ones around the front edge. I quickly checked the soil temp and it was at least 82 degrees (a three minute reading). Based on this I decided to attach the new thermostat to control my heating mat but not before removing all of the containers from the flat, adding about an inch of water in the flat, and then putting them back in.

Any idea how long will this water last and when I'll need to add more?

Also, if I close my vents how will the seedlings be exposed to air? Isn't oxygen necessary for life?

Maybe I picked a bad time to do this because I will be gone April 1st thru April 4th which will be days 6 thru 9 after sowing. If they germinate while I am not home I'm going to have to start all over when I get back.

I never thought I would have to plan my vacation around this when the idea of growing from seed started brewing in my mind last week.

This post was edited by coeng on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 22:57


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

Deleted duplicate post.

This post was edited by coeng on Wed, Mar 27, 13 at 22:51


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

Dave,

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. While the newbie guide for growing from seed on this site is good, IMO I believe it needs a lot more detail, including more pics so that a complete newbie doesn't have to struggle. I just have so many questions...


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

As flora said above you don't leave water in the tray. You put it in, let the cells absorb it for maybe 1 hour or less then pour off any left. You never leave the cells just sitting in water.

As i said most cover don't have vents. Personally I never use any cover as they cause more problems then they solve IMO. But if you do use a cover then you remove it or prop it open a couple times a day for fresh air to get in. Leave it off for 20 mins or so. You can use your vents if you wish as long as it doesn't let the soil dry out too fast.

Yeah your timing could be better. Unexpected things happen but when a trip is scheduled its best to wait to start the seeds.

Sure the FAQs aren't perfect. Hard to make them so. But it does cover all the basics and saves some of us having to spend the time to type all this info over and over again. Search 'new' and 'first' to pull up all kinds of "I'm new to seed starting" and "This is my first time starting seeds" questions. Trust me - any question about how to do it has been asked many times. :)

Dave


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

Dave,

I just read your thread and quickly ran out to my garage to dump the water. It was just slightly over an hour since I added the water. The whole inch of water that I added was about 90% absorbed already. The tops of each planter were sort-of moist looking. Not saturated, but not bone dry as they were before I watered. So I decided to not drain what was left because it was mostly in the grooves in the flat which weren't making contact with the planters.

Sot the question now is...what do I do now? Considering the planters sucked up most of the water, do I add more?

This post was edited by coeng on Thu, Mar 28, 13 at 0:08


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

I also removed the growing light since it seems kind of silly for me to keep it on while everyone is telling me I don't need it until germination. I only did it because I saw several different tutorials where people start using it right after sowing.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

If the surface of the medium looks moist you do not need to add any more water. Observe your trays every day and wait until they feel light again before watering again. We can't give you exact instructions about how much and how often because there are so many variables. Observation is key to looking after your seeds. You will learn to tell just by looking what needs doing. We can't teach you that. But be aware that more newbies lose seeds from too much intervention than too little.


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RE: my first seedling setup (with pics)

When I am germinating and when my seedlings are small enough that they are in a 2" container - I check them twice a day - everyday. Last year I had to leave town for 4 days due to a family emergency and I lost almost a quarter of my youngsters.

And by the way - depending on what you are growing, some seeds do need light to germinate, so in a dark garage, depending on what you are growing you may need those lights on for germination. Its important to do some reading up on the needs of each type of plant you are starting. Different seeds have different needs. It makes it difficult to try to start so many different types at the same time in the same tray.

Some plants are easy and I am sure you will have some successes no matter what you do. Others are more demanding and you may lose them no matter how careful you are. This is my 4th year growing under lights, I learn more every year and get better at it every year, but I still struggle and or lose completely with some plants - There are an enormous amount of variables, and ultimately everyone has to work out what works best for themselves with what they have to work with.


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