Bay Area Peninsula folks: are you taking sprouted seeds outdoors?

homey_birdJanuary 29, 2011


Sorry for this dummy question; tried searching but I guess I could not think of proper search terms for this.

I had tomato, cantaloupe, cucumbers and peppers in peat pellets. All have sprouted wonderfully and in fact the melons are growing vigorously indoors. Now, I want to take them outdoors. For peninsula of SF bay area, is the weather still too cold for those?

If so, when would be a good time to plant them outside? Can I take any short term measures to ensure uninterrupted growth?

Thanks in advance!

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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

It is hard to do this. The seedling often die of shock, you can like move it outside for a few hours per day to harden them off, before the big move. I have never had any success with indoor sprouting. You have to seriously keep it watered like many times a day.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 7:26PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

It is too early by far to move them outside. You can start hardening them taking them out for an hour into a shady place out of the wind. Do this for a week and if they still look good,up the time to two hours a day. All the varieties you named are very easy to kill if taken out this early. Al

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 9:22AM
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Thanks, Tropical and Al. My only intent was to make sure they get an early start. Looks like a bad idea. Now, when would be a good time to begin moving them outside? Should I wait till Spring is officially here?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:26PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Kept inside until then, they will likely be very spindly. I would plant the peat pots into four inch pots for a couple of weeks more inside, to let them establish in the larger pots. Then I would start the hardening off to toughen up the seedlings and keep them short and stocky. Because you started so early this time will be longer than normal, but it is better than having them frosted back by one cold night. Al

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 9:03AM
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Ooops, these are outside already! Rotting white pumpkin in compost pile. Seeds sprouting! I potted up a few and put them in my unheated greenhouse. We'll see what happens. Re: your early sprouting efforts, in my opinion, you are about a month early. I start tomato seeds near the end of February and just put the flats indoors near our french doors to the patio. I'm overwintering my peppers this year so won't need to sow any of those. Anyways, I'm sure you will learn something from your early efforts.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 12:05PM
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I sure am learning. I also learnt that given proper conditions, almost all seeds sprout! :-) I found out that keeping the pellets ~1.5 inches suspended above my toaster oven where I make my breakfast each morning is a very optimal environment for the seeds to sprout!

I got about 12-15 seedlings for cukes, so I thought, why not sacrifice one pellet for the sake of "learning". I just went out and planted them outside. Let's see what happens.

Took cantaloupes outside as well but have not exposed them to the weather directly; they're sitting inside a clear jar. They seem to be ok so far!

Regarding compost pile, last year I threw some rotten tomatoes on a compost pile and was rewarded with almost 50 tomato plants and a dozen pumpkin plants! The whole summer had a steady supply of tomatoes; enough to make salsa or soups or whatever! As a matter of fact, some of my neighbors became "compost converts" after seeing my "yield".

Deep_roots: overwintering peppers? That sounds interesting! I would be very interested in knowing how you did it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 3:53PM
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I had very good luck growing peppers in containers last season.
So my overwintering consists of putting the containers in a location that gets hit with sun during the low sun Winter months but a spot that is also somewhat protected by a tall tree and surrounding shrubs for frost protection. The plants look kind of ratty now, but as long as they return strong when the weather warms up in April or May, I will be satisfied.
Otherwise I will just buy new starter plants. There are so many wonderful varieties widely available nowadays.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2011 at 7:29PM
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You can also try putting your cuke pellet under a make-shift cloche--water bottle or clear container with holes cut into it for ventilation. That way the weather will be semi-exposed to it. After a few weeks, try lifting the cloche entirely. The cuke should be bigger by then anyways.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 1:54AM
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Just wanted to post the update to my little experiment of transplanting babies outdoors:

- Tomatoes: planted in a garden bed. Surrounded by ~4-5" wall of earth so as to contain the water. I have been thoroughly watering regularly.
They're holding up so far, although I see no growth as such. (This is a well composted soil so they're not being starved for food for sure).
- Cukes: planted in a container and covered with a cloche. Last two nights we had a frost and the plants (even being fully covered) succumbed to freezing. I'm not sure if they'd revive later -- we'll see. But they sure look critical.
- Cantaloupes: Moved outdoor but in a mini-greenhouse. They're doing fine. I see slight growth; but not a whole lot.

On the whole, tomatoes can handle a bit more cold apparently.

A 5-day forecast around here predicts lows in 40s. Past week we saw a couple of nights mid-30's, although days were clear sunny but a bit windy. I am now thinking that after two more weeks would be perhaps a good time to confidently move all outside.

Oh, by the way - I did not dare move my peppers and basil seedlings. Not a chance they'd survive.

Hope this helps!!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 2:26PM
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napapen(ca 15)

The soil should be 50 degrees 3 inches down before you plant.

We all get itchy but my garden except for cold crops does not usually go in before May 1. Often plants planted before that time get root diseases and never recover.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 11:45AM
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