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Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

Posted by kathmom 5 WA (My Page) on
Sun, Apr 5, 09 at 19:36

As opposed to last year when I went overboard in starting seeds, I am doing much less this year and (obviously) I am late to begin germination in my Park Bio Dome. I ordered refills on Mar. 18 and over 2 weeks later I see they are "shipping soon". I am afraid they may be backordered and haven't told me yet. Without getting the plugs, I probably can't use my Bio Domes, so I'm looking for surefire ideas to start my veggies and a few flowers. I have a heat mat and grow light; will start them in my basement and move to my (unheated) greenhouse when it warms up a little more--we still got snow 2 days ago here.

Thanks for any suggestions!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

  • Posted by amna 6 (MA) (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 5, 09 at 20:22

You could use Miracle gro seed starting mix (not potting mix) as a substitute for the pellets. Alternatively, I've ordered bulk peat pellets from Novosel (http://www.novoselenterprises.com/products/single.asp?ID=2335)and they're pretty fast with shipping.

Good luck,
Amna


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

I have one of the Park Done, and I believe you are talking about the sponges? The holes are long, cone shaped that would not really lend itself to using potting soil as a substitute. I've been thinking about it myself as I have not liked the results I've gotten from my transplanted starts this year. The sponges seem to hold the roots in too well and the plants do not grow. I have some tomatoes I upplanted in February that are essentially in the same state they were when I transplanted them. I have another group I did three weeks behind the first where I tore off most of the sponge before repotting that are doing great, so I believe the conditions and feeding regime are adequate.

Next year, I will use the dome structure, but I won't use sponges. I am thinking of paper, rolled into a cone filled with potting mix. Perhaps you can try that and let me know how you like it. Newspaper would probable work, but it would take some time to roll that many cones and fill them.

All in all, the dome has been a terrible disappointment to me.


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

We always use seed starting mix (filling in the holes in the styrofoam insert with it) when we use the biodomes and it works great.

In fact, we've got 4 more biodomes on order (and yes, Park has them on backorder) and when they arrive we won't be using the sponges for seed starting. Maybe for rooting cuttings - or maybe you'll see me trying to trade them away on the garden exchange board. :)

We like the dome structure and the styrofoam inserts - but the sponges don't impress us a bit.

Lynda


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

Thanks for the advice. Park's said I should get my sponges in 7-14 days (if not, "be sure to call them back"), but I think I may try some seed starting mix, maybe with the newspaper. I appreciate the help!

Kathy


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

Kathmom - we just got notice today that our biodomes shipped. Hope your sponges are back in stock and shipping soon too.

Lynda


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

I tried the BD plugs 2 years ago. I did not do a very good job and the plants did not survive outdoor. But, two years later, I still find plugs, completely intact in the raised garden bed -- they claimed to be biodegradable. I do like the tray and dome structure so I might try the suggestions above on how to fill them with starter mix. I like the length of the holes.


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

Tested them several years back and ruled out using the sponges right away. The results from almost any seed starting mix is much better - both germination rates and later growth.

So just use your foam tray and dome, fill the cells with damp seed starting mix, poke a hole in the top of it, and plant. They will work fine that way.

Dave


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

I did cancel my order of the plugs/sponges, no questions asked. Could have waited and got them, possibly, but wanted to get going. I rolled up newspaper, which wasn't too hard once I got the size right, and the seeds germinated more quickly in the Miracle Gro starting mix than last year in the sponges, I think. Problem was that I got some mold where the newspaper decomposed, so I sprayed with water/hydrogen peroxide and am moving seedlings out as soon as I can.
Think I will fill any more empty spots with just the dampened starting mix--the newspaper isn't working as well as I'd hoped. My only concern was getting seedlings out of the foam tray without something around the roots, but think this has got to be better than dealing with the creeping mold.


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

My wife, The green thumb, ordered this system too. Late getting here, order not complete, another 3 weeks for the sponges to be delivered. After she read this post, she was determined not to use the sponges and wanted to go with seed starter soil.The problem is in making a support system for the cones. She bought the 40 plug system. Fortunately,she is married to a Nurse that had a minor in microbiology and is also a certified mechanic.(just tooting the horn a little). I devised a means of easily making little cups that you can make and place in all 40 cones easily and quickly. You only need a souvenir baseball bat (Available at many ballparks or at Academy Sports, usually for less than $5, a saw, sandpaper, and some lightweight brown (unwaxed) paper (lighter weight than a grocery bag. About like parchment).
For the 40 count tray, cut the bat about 3/4 inch from the oval shaped Imprint in the middle of the bat (going towards the handle end) and sand the blunt end flat and smooth. Next, cut the brown paper into 5 inch squares and fold around the blunt end by placing the paper over the bat end and even up the edges , then fold the flaps as neatly as possible around the bat end (we slightly crease the two "wings" at the top and fold both in the same direction (either CW or CCW, Doesn't matter). Then, while the "cup" is still on the end of the bat, insert the whole thing into the cone and spread the cup by gently moving the bat around in a circle like a joystick and pull the bat out. Now the cup should be seated in the bottom, spread out and ready for seed starter soil. We cut off a small funnel to facilitate filling with the soil. If formed like I said, there should be just enough paper sticking up to facilitate removal of the cup for transplanting. We also put a hole in the bottom of the cup with a straight pin to facilitate fluid absorption through the bottom. I don't know the size of the 60 or 18 plug systems, but I presume this would work with them also, you would just have to move the cut on the bat either more towards one end or the other and you will need to figure out what dimensions your paper should be cut to.
BTW...if you take the part of the bat that was cut off and not used and grind or wittle it to a point, it makes a damn fine dibble for smaller seedlings or seeds.
As for those of you that have a fungus problem, remember, fungi are notoriously omnipresent in the air and any device used for seedlings should be sanitized in prep for planting to avoid or delay the onset of fungal problems (Just like brewing beer, my personal preference). A good spray down with a 1 to 10 mix of bleach and water followed by a good rinse in clean water should do the trick.
Hope this helps. I talked the wife into a trial run comparison of the sponges to the cups that we made and we will see if there is any rooting differences. We will post the results in a few weeks or so.


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RE: Substitute for Park Bio Dome Plugs?

  • Posted by t-bird Chicago 5/6 (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 14, 12 at 12:08

excellent info pday!

I just had my first biodome experience, and it didn't go well - but definitely user error here, so I may try the extra sponges I have left over.

Sad to hear they are not breaking down.....I think their lit claims they are better than peat pots which don't break down completely....oh well.

I'll use up the sponges and see how it goes, then try some of these potting mix ideas. Are the sponges natural sponge? anyone know?

payday - any chance of a photo expose as you run the experiment? i'm having a hard time imaging this little bat making the pots.....


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