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Am I doing it wrong?

Posted by momstar (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 2, 10 at 13:32

I've been reading up on starting from seed. I planted seed (including tomatoes) last weekend. Some are in 8 oz cups and some are in 2 liter pop bottles (cut down). As I'm reading these posts I am getting the idea that most people plant in "starter" flats or containers and then transplant to another, larger container when the first true leaves come out. Is this just a matter of saving space? Or is there some other purpose for doing this? I guess I thought that transplanting would disturb the seedling and possibly slow it down. If I started it in the pot it is to grow in then it wouldn't have to be disturbed. If some of the pots didn't germinate, no biggie.

Can someone tell me if there is some other purpose for starting in flats other than to save space? (By flats I mean to include egg cartons, jiffy pots, and all other "starting" sized pots.)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

There was just a thread on this about seed blocks and the purpose of transplanting. I'm just about as newbish as they come, but my understanding is that transplanting can be good for plants, especially tomatos that can be planted deep to encourage roots to grow along the stem.

I've been transplanting some of the seeds from the starter cells into cups, and I'm impressed with the amount of roots that have been produced. I even tried sprouting some seeds in paper towel and tranplanted them when they'd just sprouted. Hasn't hurt them!

But as I said, total noob.


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Are you doing it wrong? No, not necessarily, if it works for you. Are there other reasons beyond saving space? Yes. I find it is more difficult for me to control temperature and moisture in a larger container. Bottom heat has a harder time heating the soil all the way at the top of a large, deep container; likewise, the surface and top layers of soild tend to dry out well before the bottom layer does. But space is the primary issue. I presently have upwards of 30 flats full of cups o' seedlings ready to be planted out. If I had started each of them in individual containers, or even cell flats, I would have needed more than the 6 shop lights I already have, and that wasn't feasible for me. I transplant frequently before the seedlings get their true leaves (depending on the variety), with no problems. I find it's easier to transplant then, in fact, before the roots become enmeshed. But, if I were only starting a handful of seeds, and space under lights/on heat wasn't an issue, individual cells/containers would be easier for the transplanting stage. I still wouldn't use anything so big as a cup, though, unless it was only filled with about 3 inches or so of soil, for the temperature and moisture issues mentioned above. Also, most seedling roots actually benefit from being transplanted at least once.


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

I totally agree with Sleepy.

Well said!

I would add soil to your maters once they form 2-3 sets of true leaves. This will hide any leggy stems, and promote a better root system.

Happy Easter!

Keriann~


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Hey thanks, Keriann; and a Happy Easter to you as well! :)


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Thanks for the responses. I've got 3 tomatoes that have come up in the 2 liter bottles. I thought that was pretty good for 7 days and no heating. I'm bottom watering all these containers so drying out really hasn't been a problem, yet. I spent the day yesterday putting in over 200 seeds - most of them are in 8 or 9 oz cups - about 50 are in a starting flat and will need to be transplanted when they come up. About 3/4 of them are on a heat mat. Shasta Daisy and tall Snapdragons planted a week ago have germinated too. I can see that I'm going to need another light when things start moving. I also tried starting some peppers in a coffee filter. I've never done that before. It will be interesting to see if or how well it works.

Thanks again for your input. I agree on the tomatoes. I have some room to add soil as they bet bigger.


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Good deal, momstar. Yeah, if you can find a way to fit 200 8 oz cups under one shoplight, do let me know. I'd pay good money for that trick! :)


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

No kidding! If I could figure that out and market it I could pay for my gardening addiction. lol


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

As sleepy said above space isn't the only consideration tho it is a big one - you can put 100's more plants under 1 light if you use cell packs, plug trays, or even smaller containers. But supplies cost is another. Seedlings only need a couple of inches of starting mix and using larger containers costs you much more $$ in mix. ;)

But the biggest concern is 1) the benefits of transplanting vs. trying to grow it in the same container from day 1, and 2) the amount of water contained in the larger containers - it is often too wet for tiny seedlings.

Next year consider the small paper Dixie bathroom cups for germination. 2 inches of soil in one of them along with 8-10 seeds (same variety of course) takes up 2" on the heat mat and under the lights. ;) And they are easy to transplant out of at the cotyledon stage too - just tear the cup down the seam and they fall right out into your hand ready to go into their individual containers.

Dave


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Dave
I saw those little Dixie cups and thought about that. Unfortunately it was after I was committed to the 8 oz ones. Next year I will definitely go the 2 oz cup method. Would you recommmend putting drain holes in the small cups or is the paper porous enough?

I hadn't thought about the extra expense of the mix but you are right (as usual). I ended up needing a lot more mix.


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

I feel certain Dave will agree with me when I say, yes, you need drainage holes. The water won't seep through without them (otherwise they wouldn't make very good cups would they?:)


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Good point. Wow, do I feel silly now. lol


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Nah, it's just one of the signs you've become a true seed junkie; you stop seeing things for their actual, everyday purpose, and instead view everything as a potential tool for your seed starting habit. :)


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RE: Am I doing it wrong?

Yup, holes are good. Be they in cups or doughnuts. Especially in doughnuts! :-)

Dave


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