My (perfect) method for starting seeds

ryseryse_2004February 12, 2014

I have shared this before, I know. I use 16 oz. clear plastic beer cups. I use a soldering iron to burn drainage holes in the bottom.

I fill the cups with about 2" of seed starting mix and poke about 4 seeds in each cup. The cups go on a tray in a south facing window with a plastic cover. Once they germinate, the cover comes off. As the seedlings grow, I back fill with soil. Since the roots grow all along the stems, you will have a very sturdy plant when it is time to transplant (and you can see the root development.) (Oh, I pinch out all but the strongest plant in each pot.)

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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Good method.
I fill the container about half full then add more soil as the seedling grows. Finally, cover the top with very small pine barks, to prevent gnats and mold. Some people use perlite. And I do bottom watering. It takes a little more time but the surface of soil stays dry.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:25PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)


Hoo boy you are really asking for it aren't you? :)

Seriously, I'm glad it works for you. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But I'll take a pass on the clear cups, the window light only, the wasted seeds/plants, and the skipped step of potting-up.

Happy gardening! Hope we all have a good year.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 7:45PM
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I'll take a stab at this.

I assume that clear plastic would be bad for any roots that hit the sides of the container (due to the light) and that the southerly window would not provide quite enough light.

Skipping a potting up stage means that the roots won't be forced to become more fibrous at an early age.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:53PM
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OK - I said "MY perfect method" based on doing it this way for about 20 years. I tried all the others and this way is best for me because I end up with compact plants that aren't so leggy.

I hate the whole artificial light thing and don't mess with it for anything anymore - the south windows are adequate. They are only transplanted once - into the ground. Wasted seeds? I save my own seeds so I always have more than I can use.

As far as light hitting the sides, they don't mind (they told me so) and I like watching them grow.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Hi Ryse-Ryse,

As Dave says, "I'm glad it works for you!" I was rather taken aback by his reply, so I was trying to explain my interpretation of why he apparently didn't think your method was so great.

I have been growing my seedlings on windowsills too, but I move them from east to west as the sun moves around so that they sit in the sun all day.

I haven't always potted them up before planting either, but when I do, the potted-up plants really are a LOT bigger.

We can always make improvements to our methods if we feel like it (grin).


    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 9:47AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No offense was intended. Like I said, if it works for you, fine. It is just when we put the label "perfect" on anything it is always open for debate. If for no other reason then it wouldn't work for many others.

Newbies reading it would assume that is all they have to do to be successful and I think we all know that isn't the case as there are simply far too many other variables involved.

Your south window light in zone 5 may be very unusual as even further south supplemental lighting is required in greenhouses this time of year, not to mention the average home..

Your expectations for stalk-diameter ratio to height may be very different than others have. And your desire to skip potting up is always one's free choice but the advantages of doing it are well documented.

Phototropism - the growth of organisms in response to light as a stimulus - is positive for leaves and stems but is negative for roots. You may like to see them but they would prefer to not see you. :)

They shy away from light exposure and can easily be killed by exposure to heat and light. That is why using the clear cups is not recommended and you'd find a simple switch to dark colored cups would drastically improve your root development even without the potting-up trigger.

But, as I said, if it works for you, great. That is all that counts. Still there is always room for improvement for all of us.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 3:26PM
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Hey Dave. No offense taken and could I repeat it is MY PERFECT METHOD???. Yes, it probably won't work for everybody --- hummmm but why don't you just try it? As far as the roots not wanting to see me - well, they don,t, do they? So, it works for me and because I have tried all the other methods and this is the best for me, I will continue. Yes, anecdotal, but most methods are.

Dave, I don't want you to think I am taking this personal. I am not --- way too old for worrying about stuff that isn't important. We all love to grow stuff here and that is all that matters.

As far as enough light in my south-facing windows - well, I guess it is enough because they get what they get and amazingly enough, I usually have a HUGE crop of tomatoes and peppers to eat/can/freeze. Except years when I don't.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 4:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Dave, I don't want you to think I am taking this personal. I am not --- way too old for worrying about stuff that isn't important.

Naw, I get it. No problem. Same here - too old to sweat the small stuff.

Man, sweating sounds good. Too darn cold and snowy for too darn long this winter!!


    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 5:41PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

For each his own .
Ever since I started using fluorescent light, I am hooked. Maybe because I never had a good south facing window.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 7:52AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I knew this thread was in trouble when I saw the word PERFECT. LOL

I have a SUPER PERFECT method for starting seeds, but 10 folks will have send me a minimum of 2# of dark chocolate each ,of my choice, before I'd even consider posting my secret method online. ( smile)

But don't bother sending the choco now b'c we just got 2 ft of new snow, still snowing, and I'm enjoying hearing nothing except the snowflakes falling.

Yup, I have SUPER HEARING as well and my long distance eyesight is also Superb ever since I had bilateral cataract surgery, can't see anything up close without reading glasses, but now I can spear a wooly mammoth at a mile if one should amble by. LOL


    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 9:07AM
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Leave it to you to inject humor! Which all gardeners need! I confess, I did use a few clear plastic containers last year as a last resort, and they did germinate very fast, but were not the healthiest seedlings. Correct me if I`m wrong here but germination does not require direct sunlight as much as warmth?
I worried alot about temperatures as the seedlings grew, but apparently tomato seedlings do not need an overly warm environment, just lots of good light.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2014 at 4:26PM
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lubadub(5B PA)


The doctor put the wrong lenses in your eyes and that is why you are 20/20 for distance and can't see up close. He could have made you near sighted in one eye and far sighted in the other but that did not happen.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 4:07PM
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