Question about growing without grow lights

omincorporated(10b)March 25, 2014

Hi everyone! I am new here, sooooo happy to have found such a great and helpful community for a newbie gardener like me.

For the first time in my life, I am living in a place that has some private outdoor space, so I have been experimenting with all kinds of plants, and now decided I want to try my hand at growing some edibles. I am located in Los Angeles - zone 10b to be exact, my apartment is cut into the side of a steep hill which protects my outdoor space from strong winds. The area where I plan on growing my pepper plants is on my flat roof which gets about 6 hours of sun a day (possibly more as the sun gets higher in the sky throughout summer - not sure though as this is my first summer in this apartment). I know this amount of sun isn't ideal but I'm just excited to be playing around in dirt, whether it works or not is less of my concern. Well, that's what I'm telling myself now!

Anywho, I am just now starting some seeds, which I realize now is super late but again, I'm having fun experimenting. I am planning on trying to grow some New Mexican green chiles, and Jimmy Nardello peppers, as well as a few varieties of tomatoes. I bought a heat mat / germination station thing, and plan on starting my seeds in newspaper pots and a mix of peat moss / vermiculate / perlite.

My question is this - as I live in a small apartment, in temperate Los Angeles - will I be able to move the germinated seeds out to my patio rather than keep them indoors under grow lights? My patio receives no direct light, it's bright shade all day, and is pretty well protected from wind. I have very limited funds, and even more limited space, so growing under grow lights is basically not an option for me.

One more small question - should I put any fertilizer in my seedling mix? If so, what kind?

I hope these questions aren't too obvious, I looked through the FAQ and all I could see was how to grow germinated seedlings under grow lights, never outdoors.

Thanks for any help you can provide!

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Are your germinated seeds seedlings yet or are they still still under the dirt. The best thing for seeds that have not sprouted yet is warmth and keeping them moist. I would imagine if you kept them outside that they would dry out quickly. Seedlings on the other hand need the light and most people give them 16 hours because they love that the best. Some people even give them 24 hours but that's a waste of electricity to me because they love 16. I never give my seedlings fertilizer until they have at least 2 sets of true leafs and I use fish emulsion because it's organic and peppers love it. Also when they are that young you probably want to give them half the recommended doses. Hope that some what answered your questions

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 6:22PM
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Can you babysit them from the moment they break the surface?

If so, let me know. If not, get some lights.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:24PM
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I'd only mess with mostly Annuum seeds this late in the season.
You have no clue as to the soil you want to grow in.
Why spend time with seeds that might not have proper soil to grow in once outdoors.
Nursery plants are $1.50 - $4.00.

Get starts from a nursery for this year,get seeds on the net for a fall plant for spring pods.

I live in the San Fernando Valley,you and me have a year round season.

I'd grow nursery plants the first year to check out your soil etc.

If you live in the N.Hills/Van Nuys area PM me and stop by and say Hello.
I might be able to help you out with seeds or whatever.
PM me,IF you aren't long distance,we could talk on the phone or whatever.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:55PM
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Thanks for the replies!

I forgot to mention in my post, I got a heating pad / germination tray with lid that I will use to start the seeds. I will keep it on that until the seeds have broken through the surface.

After that point, my plan was to bring them out during the day, then back in at night. Day time temps here are between 65-75 and from what I've read that seems like the right temperature for new seedlings? The only other option I have is to keep them next to a dimly lit window - none of the windows in my apartment are south facing or have bright light. So to me, it seems like putting them outside would be the lesser of two evils.

So fun to plan this! And I love reading about everyone else's gardens.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Smokemaster - thanks for your reply. You're right, I have no idea what kind of soil these should eventually be put in, I'm trying to do as much research and figure it out as I go. I don't have any yard, just patio / roof area, so these plants were all going to be in containers - so couldn't I tailor the potting soil I use to the plants I'm growing, when it comes time to transplanting them? I think I'm confusing myself haha.

Starting seeds in the fall sounds like a good idea, but there's pretty much no way I will ever be able to set up a grow light area, just not enough space where I live. I guess if my spring-time experiment doesn't work out, I'll just stick to buying nursery plants in the future.

I was planning on buying a couple nursery plants this weekend as a backup plan. So if / when my seed experiment goes awry, at least I'll have those.

Thanks again for your help!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:10PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

You're in 10b, where frost is an unusual occurrence. I wouldn't worry about where you are in the growing season and go ahead and grow some late-ripening varieties - at least to get the experience.

If I read you correctly, you will be in pots on a roof? That presents its own problems. Setting a container on soil means it will be on a cool surface; a roof can get very hot and you stand the chance of cooking the roots. You should start thinking about providing shade for the pots - not necessarily the plants - and the area of roof that they sit on.

Good idea on the nursery plants.

A "grow light area" can be a cardboard book box. It all depends on how many plants you want it to support. They won't have to live in the box very long.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 12:53PM
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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

I know it's not the ideal setup, but I started from seed without lights, or heat mat. I live in a 1 bedroom condo with a 300sf back yard. I had absolutely no room in my house or my budget for an indoor setup. so I just put them in plastic cups with drainage holes, then put them outside. note: I live in FL, so it doesn't really get too cold down here. we didn't have a first frost this year. if we did i wouldn't have been able to start them yet.

no, you will not get as good of results as the people with grow lights and a controlled grow environment. not staying in ideal temp range means your plants will be stunted to some extent. but it's better than nothing, and after a rough start my plants are doing well now.

so yes, you can do it without lights. no, it won't be as good. but if you're a first time hobby grower, do you really care about maximum results?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Thanks for everyone's help! I (finally) got my seeds started this past weekend. Used a mix of 1 part perlite 1 part vermiculte 1 part peat, in homemade newspaper / kraft paper pots. Placed them on a heat mat with a dome lid, I've been taking the lid off at nights so it doesn't get moldy. We are going to be getting weather in the 80s high/mid to upper 50s low in the next few weeks so I'm hoping by the time these little guys sprout the weather will be okay to put the seedlings out during the day.

I also bought some nursery plants this weekend which will be brought into my office, to put on a south facing balcony we have. The balcony gets full sun, so it should be good. The only potential problem would be crows / seagulls, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Thanks again for all the help and suggestions!


    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 4:05PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Love the little flags! And the gladiator.

You have just the right attitude to be a successful pepper grower: It's fun!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Another update - I planted 5 pots each of my seeds (2 tomatoes, 1 hot pepper, 1 sweet pepper) - all 5 of each tomato variety sprouted, and 3 of 5 of each of the peppers sprouted.

I have been bringing the tray of seedlings outside to my patio every day while I'm at work, then bringing back inside at night. They are all growing slowly but I am starting to see their first leaves coming through! Woohoo!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:20PM
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So after a sloooooowwwww start, my seedlings are almost ready to transplant! Only two of the Numex and two of the Jimmy Nardello's survived, but they're growing pretty good now. And lots of tomatoes almost ready to go. Thanks for the help everyone!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:16PM
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stoneys_fatali(9b Duarte,Ca.)

I'm very close to you in the SGV.

Your plants look good. I would let the peppers get a little bigger before transplant.
I am also growing a Jimmy Nardello. He's got flowers on him but no fruit yet.
We are lucky in the Los Angeles area. I grow my plants as perennials.
Keep us posted!


    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 2:22PM
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