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did I start too soon?

Posted by coeng NE NJ (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 2, 13 at 9:00

Less than a week after I planted tomato, cucumber, squash, zucchini, string beans, parsley, and basil in 72 cells under a heating mat, only the parsley has still yet to germinate.

Of the 72 cells, 60 of them are under already under my growing light (a 2-foot Pioneer IV) which is on 16 hours a day via a timer.

The following are my questions at this point.

1) Timing - Did I start seeding too soon? I don't plant until May 15th here in Northern NJ. Should I start a second batch, and if so, when? I had to cancel my vacation plans this week at the last minute so it turns out I will have some extra time.

2) Containers - Because I seeded different varieties, they all germinated on different days so what I did was cut out each individual cell that germinated and inserted it in the corresponding location of another empty 72-cell unit which is under my growing lamp. I did this for ease of moving the seedlings around and not having to worry about any of them toppling over. Was this a good idea or not?

3) Watering - I still don't have a clear answer on how often I should water the seedlings. The soil on the top of each seedling cell is starting to look a little dry, however tomatoes like to be watered only once a week right? Do I selectively water?

4) Conditions - My garage temp is between 55-57 degrees (especially since Spring has yet to spring here in the NE) and the air is quite dry. The growing lamp adds a couple of degrees but not much. Will my seedlings survive in these conditions? So far they seem to be doing OK.

5) Space - As my seedlings grow, I'm going to run out of room under my growing light, aren't I? Any solution to this other than getting a 2nd light?

6) Transplanting - Am I going to need to transplant any of these before hardening them in early May?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: did I start too soon?

Read this website. It has a lot of info you are looking for. Also, if you do a search for "dates before last frost to start seeds", you will come up with lots of info. That's how I got this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: planting guide

RE: did I start too soon?

1) For the things you list, yes.

2) That is your only choice when you use one of those kits - cutting them apart. That's why using individual containers for each variety is what is recommended.

3) There is no set formula or schedule since there are too many variables. You water as each plant needs it. In those small cells need will vary greatly. Once they are transplanted into proper containers, less watering is required.

4) It's ok but growth will be slower As mentioned to you before, most enclose the seed starting area in some fashion - many easy ways to do it - as gives you much better control over air temps and humidity than trying to maintain the whole garage.

5) No other option but more lights. I recall it was mentioned before that is a well documented problem with using only 2' set-up like this.

6) Definitely. Which is another reason why those kits are not recommended. Those small cells are for germination only, not growing in. Any plant will quickly become rootbound in them. All of them will need to be transplanted at least once and some more than once.


RE: did I start too soon?


Once again, thanks for your attentive responses. Everyday I am learning something new. I really do appreciate it and would buy you a drink if I could.

1) What's the worse that will happen because I planted too soon? Won't I just start with larger than normal transplants in the garden?

2) What types of containers would you have recommended instead of those kits? Obviously that would mean I would plant fewer items so they could all fit under the same 2-foot growing light. My garage space is limited so expanding my makeshift nursery at this point is not something I am considering (maybe next year depending on the yield I get this year)

3) Understood, but would a good rule of thumb be basically whenever the top of the soil appears dry?

4) So in my case, the cool temps in my garage work out in my favor since I planted a bit too early, right? Or are you implying long-term growth will be stunted?

5) I guess I'll cross that bridge if I ever get to it. I'll regularly post pics in this forum to show my progress.

6) When do you know its time? And is transplanting as simple as using a larger container with the same soil? Why do garden centers sell ready-to-plant seedlings in the same size 6-pack containers that I am using?

SusanZone5, thanks for the link to that guide. I will check it out.

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