Tobacco bedding?

Rio_GrandeMarch 12, 2014

Hang with me.....

When I was a kid we used to start tobacco plants in floating rafts. I acquired a few new 256 plug floating trays "raft" and want to try to start our garden plants in them. It is basically kracky style.

Back in the day we used a steril planting medium in the trays that appeared to be peat moss, dirt and a small amount of vermiculite. I could mix it like that but I was wondering if someone can recomend a pre made mix that would work in this position.


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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Big tobacco has used a similar mixture for starts as you made.

Check this commercial product:

PRO MIX TA Tobacco Starter

Looks like about 85% short fibered sphagnum peat and 15% fine vermiculite plus minor suff to adj pH prep and nutes

Looks like the guys in positions like you are complaining about the high cost of these commercial mixes and just making their own -- sound familiar :)

This thread does it and gave a generic potting soil recipe, but other comments mention perlite is a pain for pumps (you could put it in a fine netting though).

If the vermiculite was cheap enough, maybe it would work alone???

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Wed, Mar 12, 14 at 14:06

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Sounds very familiar!

Thanks for the reply?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 3:45PM
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Shouldn't have been a question mark in the last post.

Looks like similar concerns. We are not going to use a pump of ant sort although I will likely aerate the solution lightly to keep it from getting stagnant. We use a bleach solution to clean all the trays before planting in an attempt to sterilize the tools but I am concerned with weeds and fungus so I want to get a sterile potting mix. I found a tobacco warehouse within driving distance of me. I will call and see what they are selling.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:03PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Hey Rio,

I just did a little bit of research and gave Premier Tech a call, spoke to the Woody, a really superb salesperson. Really sharp. He said the PRO-MIX TA bags are a week or two backordered and in demand right now. Give Workman Tobacco Supples 270-435-4090 in Murray KY a call if they're nearby (I don't remember where you are). Apparently, one bag of PRO-MIX TA will be enough to do 18 x 250 spot polystyrene starter floats. Any good regular potting mix ought to work, but the tobacco plant will germinate initially faster/vigor somewhat with PRO-MIX TA since the fertilizer strength is good for tobacco and a little stronger than normal ones, which does tobacco better and if it is convenient, the price is not bad, too. I saw a few papers are using that product when they do studies on tobacco. The perlite won't be much of a problemthen, and if you get one with perlite, no prob, just use a spray nozzle to settle the surface when it's all packed to go to keep it all down and do a good job wetting the medium too. And you most post us a pic of one of these floats in action! Good luck with the guy you found of course!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 4:36PM
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Wow, as usual you rock!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:26PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Thanks... found this detailed manual on what you're doing, which looks really good and has a section on how to minimize the wetting of the medium (may be a little old but says like a 50/50 vermiculite mixture), that wetting is necessary somewhat, but not to overdo expecially if your medium is homemade and may absorb more. So I'm thinking the spray nozzle idea is to make a light drizzle falling over it. Good tips on how to manually settle the media - also not to overdo either since it is only lightly settled...Also says some algae might be avoided if you wait a few days before adding fertilizer to the solution, if that is an option you wanted to try. Also, it says the optimum fertilizer is 100 ppm Nitrogen complete hydroponic fertilizer with micros. That's like 70% the full strength of the lettuce stuff you were using. Anyway if you haven't seen it take a look:

UT Knoxville Tobacco Float Starting Guide

EDIT: updated guide, though the older one has some nice discussion not included in this one2011-2012 KY/TN Tobacco Production Guide, esp. pp 15-16
Good luck "dibbling"!

This post was edited by PupillaCharites on Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 13:10

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 12:00PM
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That's exactly what we are doing. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:17PM
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Picked up enough trays yesterday for 4760 plants and the recomended media. It is 1/3 the cost of the hydroponic specific media. Looks like peat, vermiculite and perlite. All premixed. We picked up their recomended cover as opposed to putting a hoop house over it. The rep selling us the materials said we wouldn't have hardening off issues if we used their cover.
Worth a shot. Putting in the frame and liner today, may build the cover if we have enough PVC in the greenhouse.

Then on to taking the greenhouse down and building it taller wider and longer. Yes I have way too much to do in the next couple weeks before we start planting.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:50AM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Your garden sounds like an acre now! this is going to be great. I hope you have time to share a picture or two and more that your Dad is back outside to share in all the fun! Good luck with the new project! 20 of the 2.5 sq. ft. trays and two sacks of the new reasonably priced mix?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 11:42AM
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He was out there today for a bit. We picked up 21 200 cell trays and have 3 253 cell (I think) if that's right my math is off already. One bag of mix does 17 trays safely or that's what they said. So had to buy two.

I got the site level within 1.5 inches today in the worst spot. Going to add some dirt around it tomorrow to help shore up the boards and on the inside to bevel the corners slightly. I had it pretty level until I decided to compact it today with the skid loader. Total frame size is 10x8 that is bigger than deeded for the trays we have but over the ears if I have learned one thing it's build bigger than needed.

Our dirt part of the vegatable operation is a little more than an acer. Rest is hay and livestock. This bed and the greenhouse is going into a old feed lot that we moved to keep manure out of our run off water. We tried growing in it two years in a row and diddnt have much success so it is the new nursery.

I will take some pix tomorrow. By the time I finished fighting plastic in the wind today I diddnt have it in me to go get the camera.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 10:08PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Great your Dad was back out! Hope he recovers from the last few days on his healthy land. Sounds like a lot of land use optimizing you all are improving up.

Hey - in the spirit of optimization, if you have an extra 20 square feet, can you start test basil in the extra in home made polystyrene rafts and maybe convert it after the tobacco is done with a little aeration? (Note: somewhere I read you could flip your emptied tobacco rafts over and even do the basil directly in them so you have stuff for it already, just add aeration/maybe circulation. Some larger basils might even sync up with the tobacco.

Basil does great on rafts and even in aquaponics, check out these guys nearby in Cincinnati doing it Basil on Aquaponic rafts if you wanted to go that way with the hardware on the other project.

And if not, basil is supposed to be a good natural bug repelling compatible companion with tobacco, so you could transfer them into the same garden if you decide to shut down the raft trough.

Just a thought really, but I gotta have some fun from the armchair, so if you have time for a pic that would be really great for sharing.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 2:08AM
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I plan to keep that grow bed busy all summer! Basil will be one of many things going in there!

Thanks for the link. We have way crappy weather till next week, so I am working on building a vacuum seeder with plates for the 200 cell, 253 cell and our hydro starting trays. This is turning into a project.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:08PM
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PupillaCharites(FL 9a)

Hey, your rain's done by morning, but it's gonna give us an inch and a quarter all day Saturday :-( Can you just keep it, it's been too wet here.

Good luck with the new system! Nice, I was just looking at those vacuum seeders online, they are really nice to save work. Wish I had some extra land that allowed me unrestricted growing. I've got so little room here but I'm thinking how I can squeeze in at least one, but really wanting two systems to do.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 10:39PM
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April showers are starting a bit early here
I am lucky to have the room. I need to try and get some wet ground drained around that old cattle pen. That will give us almost a acer for hydro/aquaponic. We will see. As for the rain,, we will be in. Monsoon season for the next couple weeks.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:29AM
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