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seed starting soil, T5 lights Q and when to seperate seedlings?

Posted by Lesuko 5, Boulder CO (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 2, 12 at 14:12

I have a few Qs for a first attempt at starting seeds:

1. I seem to have a black-ish stickiness on the top layer of my seed starting mix. It's either something bad or just the peat moss or something in the mix drying out or too wet? I used sterile mix and new containers. Some seeds have sprouted but I fear others may not be able to push through the stickiness. The sprouted ones came up before the sticky stuff formed. And, I saw no signs of the green mildew that's supposed to cause dampening off and I look at my seeds many times a day.

2. We bought T5 HO light- 4 bulbs. I've searched online how far to put them above seedlings but am finding conflicting info. The Sun Systems info says 6-8" above plants. The medicinal folks say 1" above clones. Is there a different height used for seedlings, clones, and plants (I'm assuming once they are 3-4" with a few leaves)? It seems like my seedlings are stretching, but they just came up the last 3 days and I don't really know if they aren't just skinny in the beginning.- tomatoes and peppers.

3. When would you try to separate seedlings if you put 2-3 in a 1" cell? Should I not try and just choose one and cut the other? I don't need all of them but I have friends who would love some.

4. I've read here (FAQs) and other places to fertilize seedlings soon after they sprout. I wasn't expecting this. Is it necessary or recommended? If so, what would you use? I do want to be organic. I don't like the idea of fertilizers. My tomatoes and eggplants are heirloom. Peppers are new mexico varieties. I don't know if this makes a difference.

Thanks!
Leslie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: seed starting soil, T5 lights Q and when to seperate seedling

As I posted on your other post about this "The only "black sticky crud" I can think of was once a layer of green algae that has died. If that's it it should just lift off in pieces. "

T5 put out more light and more heat so they are used somewhat higher above the plants than are T12 and T8. The supposed ideal is 6-8" but that assume ideal conditions - which don't exist in real life so you have to experiment in your growing environment. Personally I find 4" to be good for most things but 3" is better IF you have adequate air circulation around the plants with fans.

Too close isn't going to hurt the plants except they dry out more quickly. Too far makes them leggy which you can't really fix so too close is better than too high. No seedlings are "skinny in the beginning". That is caused by lack of light and too hot growing ambience. So your lights are too high or your air temps are too hot or both.

3> Your choice. Some clip, most separate. Easy to do and can be done at any time from the cotyledon stage to first set of true leaves. Only difference is ease of handling.

I've read here (FAQs) and other places to fertilize seedlings soon after they sprout.

Not sure where you found that in the FAQs. The one on fertilizing talks about fertilizing "after transplanting" only, not after they sprout. Big difference!

The standard recommendation is well-diluted feedings every 7-10 days AFTER the plants develop their second set of true leaves.

I do want to be organic. I don't like the idea of fertilizers. My tomatoes and eggplants are heirloom. Peppers are new mexico varieties. I don't know if this makes a difference.

All plants need the nutrients supplied by fertilizers in some form. Heirloom or hybrid or variety makes no difference. They can't grow without them. So if you want to be organic just use one of the many organic fertilizers available. There are 100's of them.

Dave


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RE: seed starting soil, T5 lights Q and when to seperate seedling

  • Posted by Lesuko 5, Boulder CO (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 3, 12 at 16:48

Thanks Dave.

I work from home and look at my seedlings 3-4 times a day (I'm trying to cut back). I've never seen green algae. But, I did let the mix dry out and the black stuff is almost gone.

I moved my lights from 6" to 4". I realized not all my cells are the same size- something to remember for next year. It wasn't smart for watering from the bottom either.

I guess I need to get some fertilizer. It will be a while before the true leaves pop up, I'm assuming.

Thanks again.
Leslie


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