saved seeds to be grown (my 1st time)

purple1701(5B Chicago)March 20, 2014

My kids had a blast helping with the garden last year, and one of their favorite parts was sprouting seeds in baggies. We had a prolific crop of cherry tomatoes, a ton of ginormous beefsteaks, and 2 kinds of roma-type plants, one of which was a hybrid. The hybrid *sucked* and the other one was awesome. Guess which one of the 4 I did not keep seeds from!

This year, I plan to split the 3 varieties so that half of the seeds are started in baggies and half are in a starter kit of some sort with a seed starter mix.

I first want to reaffirm a couple things to make sure I'm on the right track:

1. Once the seeds in baggies have sprouted, they should be immediately placed in the starter mix correct?

2. I don't have a heat pad that I can safely leave on while I'm not home, but we do have old style radiators. The one in the living room has a wooden plank across it almost like a bench. Would this work as a heat source?

3. I will be using some standard fluorescent bulbs on them once they emerge (sprout?), but as soon as I can I would like to start setting them out on the porch or in the backyard before I leave for work in the morning. What is the minimum temp at which this is acceptable and feasible not to absolutely kill the plants? They should be about 4 weeks old by this time. I'm more interested in creating hardy, sturdy plants than super-producers. In my mind I see this like the human immune system being strengthened by exposure to germs and such. (So I WON'T be using Miracle-Gro). The main reason for this is that I don't think the light I have will be sufficient for them once they start to really grow, and I don't have any windows that get decent sunlight.

4. Lastly, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to use a seed starter mix (I'm a cheapskate and hate spending money if I can DIY it for less or free!) but when it's time to pot them up, (that's the middle stage before they get transplanted out right?) couldn't I then use some of the well amended dirt from my garden? Like not all of it, but maybe mixed with the leftover starter mix if I have some left? Or even bagged garden soil from a store instead of 100% soil-less mix?


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Be sure to check out all the FAQs over on the Growing from Seed forum too as all these points are covered there - many discussions too.

1 - yes
2 - yes
3 - 50 minimum and out of direct sun and shielded from wind. Lots of info available about proper hardening off here the search will pull up.
4 - you can do as you wish of course but soil is never recommended for use in containers for numerous reasons. Again, 100s of discussions available about this.

Why go to all that work just to stunt their root development or even kill the plants before they even go to the garden? You'd do better to save the time and money spent to grow your own and just buy your transplants,

Why buy seed starting mix if you are going to use baggies anyway. Buy a good soil-less grow mix instead.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 7:37PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

You can get a shop light at Wal-Mart or Lowes that holds two 40 watt fluorescent bulbs and hang it from chains somewhere. Once I had a light fixture under the stairs - chains with hooks on nails under the stairs where they didn't show - took my dog's favorite spot. My sister has some tied under a table in her shady "sunroom". The fixtures last for years and are not expensive. You don't need special bulbs or a heat mat. My seeds are in my basement after they sprout and it is cool probably in the 60's. I start them upstairs on top of my refrigerator or a high shelf. At this stage they take up very little room. Buy the potting mix that has a little fertilizer in it. It sounds like you grew from seed last year so I am wondering why you are asking about the radiator and stuff. Don't cook your seeds. They take about a week to sprout in my house. Dirt from your yard will pack hard as a rock in a little pot that you are watering and also have fungi that will rot the seedlings. Involve the kids and the expense will be worth it. Gardening is a wonderful hobby.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:12PM
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purple1701(5B Chicago)

I guess I'm getting my terminology mixed up, I thought seed starter mix was the same as soil-less mix. The latter is what I intend to use.

Dave - good point on the $$ spent for transplants vs soil-less mix, I didn't think of that. I did buy transplants last year so I was thinking I would save money there this year but if they die anyway... yeah.

helenh - I did not grow from seed last year, so while I'm scaling back the garden in general, I'm taking on a new endeavor I'm unfamiliar with. I do have a lamp with fluorescent bulbs in it already (it's my "mood lamp" in the winter as I occasional experience mild SAD symptoms) but good tip on hanging something from a chain.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 10:42AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

So last year what did you do with the seeds in baggies? If you haven't started seeds before the most important part is hardening off. This has to be gradual or the tender seedling with shrivel up dried out and broken in the wind and get sun burned. At the beginning of summer a fair skinned human should not go to the beach and lay in the sun. A tomato seedling can't go outside directly in the sun and wind either. Gradually put them out in a protected shady spot and increase the time as they get used to it.
This was years ago when I took my dog's place and grew plants there.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:15AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I guess I'm getting my terminology mixed up, I thought seed starter mix was the same as soil-less mix. The latter is what I intend to use.

There are soil-less seed starting mixes and soil-less growing mixes.

The seed starting mixes are normally a much finer texture, mostly just peat and vermiculite to retain water, and have no or very few added nutrients since the young seedlings don't need or tolerate them well sometimes. They are used in very small amounts just for germination and nothing else.

Soil-less growing/potting mixes have a more coarse texture for better drainage, include pine bark, perlite, lime, and added nutrients along with the peat. Many use them for both seed starting and for growing on as well as for container gardening.

I didn't think of that. I did buy transplants last year so I was thinking I would save money there this year

You can save money buy growing your own - after the initial outlay for decent equipment - lights and a heating pad. But the primary reason for growing your own is different variety access and the fun, not saving money.

For example (over-simplified but I think you'll get the idea) since I was price shopping today - would you spend more than $11 on transplants? Since you already have your seeds, 1 2 cf bag of MG Potting Mix - enough to grow 150 transplants easily for the garden costs $11.

Would you spend more than $21? The bag of MG and 1 shop light at Walmart plus 2 fluor. bulbs for it costs $21.50 and you'd have the light to use next year. Got any plastic butter tubs, yogurt cups, old containers, a bag of plastic drink cups from the Dollar Store you can make holes in the bottom of? Then you are set except for your hardening off issues. That has to be done right or it all goes down the tubes in just a few hours.


PS: edited to add I am not advocating Walmart or MG or any other product, just using it at an example since I happened to note the prices today.

This post was edited by digdirt on Fri, Mar 21, 14 at 15:38

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:35PM
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