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not a bad first season, planning ahead for second season

Posted by njitgrad NE NJ (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 8, 13 at 11:13

I am stoked because about 90% of my seedlings (tomatoes, cukes, zukes, eggplant, and herbs) are thriving so far in my raised beds.

I am starting to put together a list of do's/dont's for next season while they are still fresh in my mind. Any advice would be appreciated.

1) I need sturdier growing flats for my cell packs. During the hardening process I had to move my flats outdoors and back as weather conditions permitted. Each flat was filled with several 12 oz to 16 oz size plastic cups containing my seedlings that I eventually transplanted into from smaller cell packs. Because these cups tip over when the flat was not held properly, moving all of my flats became quite cumbersome and took me about 10 min and a lot of legwork. If there was a way to keep the cups in place or if the flats were sturdier, I could cut my time in half. Any recommendations?

2) Cell packs. I think that starting with the cell 6-packs was overkill since everything germinated and then I had to cull alot as I transplanted into the plastic cups, not to mention the fact that I ran out of space under my lights. Suggestions? Maybe larger cell packs that won't require me to transplant before planting in the ground?

3) Timing. Starting my tomatoes in late March worked out great for me, that's pretty much where it ends. I should have waited on my cukes/zukes/squash until late April but started them at the same time as my tomatoes, however they are looking pretty good (but they are all flowering too much too soon I think). I started my eggplant and sweet peppers too late (in late April) and have a LONG way to go, next year they get started the same time as the tomatoes. I also started my annual flowers way too late (late April), I'm thinking early March next year.

4) Wind protection. Need to find an easy way to set up wind protection for hardening on those nice days in early May where the wind is just a little harsh but the temp and sunlight are just fine. Something easy to set up around my flats as I lay them down on my deck. Perhaps I can use PVC child safety fence in a hexagon configuration with some added material attached to them. Question is what kind of material?

5) Seed gathering. When is the time of year that I should be looking to purchase seeds for the 2014 growing season? I don't have time to collect my own, at least for now.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: not a bad first season, planning ahead for second season

Seed catalogs come out around December/January, so that's the time to order seeds. You can make a wish list before then and also write down what you already have. For me, I like to shop in the stores, too, so I buy some off the rack in late winter. Ah, springtime...

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