sowing seeds indoors

ezzirah011(7a)January 9, 2010

Does anybody sow thier seeds indoors with this method? I know it is not advocated on the websites about this method I have seen, but I wondered if people actually did it in reality?

Thanks!

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wordwiz

What method?

Mike

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 4:14PM
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ezzirah011(7a)

with square foot gardening. I noticed on most of the websites they advocate putting seeds directly in the ground, not starting them indoors first. I was wondering what most people on this board does..put them straight in the ground or start them out indoors...

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 4:30PM
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wordwiz

The advantage of starting seeds indoors (as long as they do mind being transplanted - some do not do well) is that they get a head start, especially if the weather in not good.

I'm thinking about plants such as tomatoes, peppers, a couple types of cucumbers, and basil. If one has a cold, wet spring, the seeds may rotten in the ground, be slow to germinate or, in rare cases, sprout and grow great, just to be hurt by a unexpected but very cold snap, especially if you cannot protect them.

For veggies such as beans, peas, onions, carrots, potatoes, lettuce - I would definitely direct sow or plant them.

YMMV,

Mike

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 6:11PM
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curt_grow

I would think it depends on your Zone I am in zone 4 and if I don't start my warm weather plants like tomatoes indoors, or buy them started they will not have time to mature and fruit before frost takes them out.

Curt :-)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 8:30PM
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swarthog(9)

Sure I just started a full 72 cell jiffy pack full of lettuces, Chinese Cabbage and bok choys. They sprouted nicely and went into the cold frame where they are getting ready for transplant in a couple of weeks. If frost is predicted I'll bring them inside. My main concern for indoor starting is light. Once they sprout, artificial or natural they need light! My peas however I soaked for 24 hours and then straight out into the squares they went. However what you do is up to you. I have noticed in the past that seeds started directly in the garden tended to be heartier, but that is not always the case. I even saw a 6 cell pak of peas at the local garden center, so go figure. Do what works best for you, be it Winter sowing, heat mats or buying transplants. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 3:53AM
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ezzirah011(7a)

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies. I went out yesterday and looked over the seeds at my local home depot and I cannot wait to get started! :)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 7:16AM
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ribbit32004

I have a shop light in the basement and wedged a slat of wood in there between two unfinished walls to hold my transplants. It stays very cold down there, so all I can start is cool weather crops.

Whatever you do, keep that light no more than 2-3 inches off of the top of your transplants. They'll grow towards the light and get very 'leggy' and spindly otherwise.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 8:40AM
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Dan Staley

I start in the basement as well. I built a box out of scrap wood, painted the inside white, and put my seeds in there. I have two fluorescent fixtures and cover it all with two old towels. The lights make more than enough heat. When certain plants get too big, they go in the south window, then the coldframe to harden off, then the ground.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 10:29AM
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bsntech(5b)

Ditto.

I also start mine inside. Last year I did them upstairs by a north-facing window, but this year I will be doing it down in the basement where I have more room. The north facing window didn't provide any additional sunlight - so downstairs is just fine under fluorescent lights.

Last year I direct-sowed carrots, green beans, onion sets (not seed), potatoes, cucumbers, and peas. I started lettuce, peppers, corn, tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower inside under the lights.

After having very poor green bean germination and wasting my valuable space, I plan to start all of them indoors this year. Same with the cucumbers - out of six seeds, only two came up. I will also be growing Copra Onions from seed that I'll start inside and transplant outside.

The two big benefits I see from starting seed indoors is (1) Get a head-start on the seeds growing to get a couple weeks more of produce, and (2) knowing that what you transplant in the garden is already growing and alive (unlike direct-sowing where seeds may not come up - thereby wasting space).

I just got all of my planters cleaned up last weekend and ready to go. Hopefully that FedCo seed order will be in before long - and will start with the onion seeds at the beginning of February. Hopefully that isn't too early :)

Here is a link that might be useful: BsnTech Gardening Blog

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 3:12PM
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Dan Staley

I tried the onion transplanting thing. Ugh. Never again. Last year I bought sets for the last time. This year I'm putting out black fabric in late Feb to heat the soil and sowing - depending upon weather - directly into garden early Mar and using hoops for frost protection.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 5:16PM
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ezzirah011(7a)

I am a bit confused, (more than a bit, really :) ) what is a cold frame?

thank you for tolorating these questions from a noobie..

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 6:42AM
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Dan Staley

I am a bit confused, (more than a bit, really :) ) what is a cold frame?

A small unheated structure used to extend the growing season, usually with a transparent top. Contrast hot frame/hotbox where the soil is heated to grow plants over the winter.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 11:58AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

One of my coldframes, for reference.

EG

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 2:16PM
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Dan Staley

I think the key to coldframes is the proper angle on the glazing and using found material, both of which are evident on EG's structure. is 4x6 and save for the glazing framing, sheathing insulation, glazing and studs are all found or repurposed material. Lots of plans out there that have a too-shallow glazing angle - it should be at least 30º to get you through Dec 1 - Feb 1 low sun angle for places south of 40ºN and closer to EG's angle for north of there.

Also look at the overlap on the sides, where the sides project to the top of the lid, which cuts heat loss due to wind and lessens the chance of the lid being lifted in strong gusts. My front wall is only 5.5" to cut shadow on the ground and if I do another one I'm going to put a little glazing on the front wall (3 layers of acrylic that I have extra of) to get more sunlight on the soil, but mine operates through the winter with no soil heat in Denver area, so my needs are different than in AL.

Anyway, as evidenced in EG's frame, with some thought and creativity, coldframes are easy to do and more than repay themselves. Well done, BTW, EG.

[/geeky]

Dan

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 5:17PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Dan - thanks for the compliments. This one was made from scrap material laying around, and didn't involve any plan. I just started building. :-) I haven't checked the angle on the window, but it's between 30 and 45 degrees of pitch. I looked at yours, and it's pretty big! Man, you can grow all kinds of things in there....

EG

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Dan Staley

It breaks down for storage too. We like salad all year round so we need something big enough to supply our needs and have room for water storage for thermal mass (~8.5 gal/29 l). Next fall we'll do a small low tunnel with two layers of plastic and a vent, for cabbage and greens. The extras go to coworkers to repay favors...

Back in the day, coldframes were standard in the average garden and helped provide needed variety and nutrition and space to set out seedlings. To return to topic, after sowing your seeds indoors, you should set the seedlings out in a coldframe to harden them off before tucking them into their new homes in the garden. EG's is a great height for toms and peppers in pots.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 10:12AM
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wordwiz

Dan,

Just from readings from many other forums:

Newbies need to be very careful about hardening plants off in a coldframe, especially during that time of the year when temps can vary a lot in a few hours. The temp in a small coldframe could go from 35 to 85 in a hour or less, once the sun hits it. Not a big concern if one is home and can lift the lid but leaving for work on a very overcast, chilly morning when the temps are in the 30s could mean finding dead plants after returning home, especially if the skies clear and the sun blazes.

My GH soared from 72 to 105 degrees today in less than 90 minutes.

Mike

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 4:42PM
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Dan Staley

Good point, Mike. I have an auto vent opener in mine and take it for granted. It can be in the teens here and the lid will be opened a bit from the auto opener.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 6:14PM
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kellydanger

Dan - I tried to take a peek at your cold frame, but the photobucket link isn't working for me....did you build your frame or purchase it? Either way - care to share the details (i.e. plans, especially for that auto vent, or place of purchase)? thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 9:19AM
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Dan Staley

I can get it to work, no problem in FireFox. Here it is:

Sorry everyone for the large size.

I built it myself, using mostly found material, the folder on PhotoBucket with the details is called 'cold frame' or something similar. The vent opener is a Bayliss MK-7, the glazing is Verolite 8mm twinwall. I'll go out today and pick lettuce for dinner salad.

Dan

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 9:45AM
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belleville_rose_gr

I start my seeds indoors and will place them in the Greenhouse for a short time before transplanting them in the ground

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening by the Seat of my Pants

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 5:39PM
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jengc(7)

OK I have a question (and HI GUYS!! MISSED YOU!). I have some great fluorescent fixtures in my basement. My cold...dark...basement. I should have started my tomatoes in January but procrastination has gotten the better of me. Anyhoo! I know that they need to be about 2 inches from the light so they dont get leggy (which is another thing I dont understand. I put them that far from the light so they didnt get leggy. They burned themselves on the light even though they were very small. Of course I moved them then but I thought they would stop when they got too close) but I wonder if I should get a warming mat to make sure they grow. I know I had a hard time with peppers last year(I had 0% success and had to go buy plants) and found out my house was not warm enough. We keep the temperature around 68 degrees and I heard they need temps in the 80s to sprout and grow successfully. Are tomato plants not that sensitive or should I invest in a warming mat? Thanks geniuses of the garden! :D

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 10:06AM
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jengc(7)

Bump

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 9:11AM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

jengc - best germination happens at 75-80 degrees, but then they need to be exposed to cooler temps. As soon as mine pop up, I usually leave the lights on for about 3 days straight, then reduce the time to 16 hours/day. This keeps them from getting too leggy. Some people use a warming mat, but I don't. The reason for keeping the lights so close to the plants, is because the effective light exposure is dissipated the farther the lights are away from them, and the seedlings need all the light they can get.

EG

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 9:42AM
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keski(6)

I found a great site on the web that gives info on presprouting seeds - especially hard to start pepper seeds. It's called amishland or amishland seeds. I was in Alaska a couple summers ago and couldn't believe the sizes of their crops. Light seems to be way more important than cool temps. It wasn't the warmest summer that year, either.
Keski

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 12:12PM
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angela12345(7b NC Mixed-Humid)
    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 3:31PM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

Has anyone tried this method with peppers?

Excerpt from the above website: Peppers: I like to pre-sprout my pepper seeds.NEW SEED STARTING TRICK: I just learned a super trick used by scientists for getting old or hard to germinate peppers to really sprout. Many of the tropical hot chile pepper sorts are notoriously difficult to get even germination. I was able to germinate many really old seeds of varieties of hot peppers that I have given up all hope for. I get qutie a few pepper seeds in seed trades that often don't sprout at all. But this method worked with almost 100% germination. I was stunned! A bit more work but well worth it, believe me.

First, boil a pot of water for at least 10 minutes to sterilize the water, then cool it and keep it covered to keep it as sterile as possible. Place your seeds in cheesecloth bags (I used Reemay brand agricultural row covers cut up in small squares and tied with string). Submerge the bag in a solution of 1 cup sterile water (that has been cooled to room temperature) mixed with 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach. Leave the seeds in this solution for 10 minutes, swirling the bag around frequently to make sure all the seeds are exposed to the bleach. Then, dunk the bag into a fresh cup of sterile water for one minute, swirling constantly. Repeat this rinsing procedure for 6 more rinses in sterile water (fresh cups for each rinse would be optimum, but not neccessary). Bleach treated seeds germinate sooooo much faster plus the bacteria and fungal spores that may have contaminated the seeds are killed.

Now you can plant the seeds in your sterile soil in pots. I no longer recommend peat pots for any seedlings as it is too difficult to keep them evenly moist. They tend to dry out lethally. ! !

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 4:05PM
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keski(6)

Yes, Angela, and eaglesgarden, you found it. I definitely will try some of these tips for starting peppers, tomatoes, etc.
keski

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 7:56AM
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jengc(7)

Bleach eh? I would think that would kill it! I didnt think about them having any kind of fungus on them. I may try that!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 4:20PM
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Dan Staley

You don't need a warming mat. I have a box that surrounds my 2 trays (painted white) and just fits my 2 lights. I cover with a white towel(s). The waste heat from the light makes all the heat you need, for free; I hang the lights with parachute cord from basement rafters, to adjust their height. I don't have any trouble with germination. There should be no need for bleach unless you trade seeds.

Dan

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 5:30PM
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