Fast germination!

ryseryse_2004April 3, 2013

I planted 10 varieties of tomatoes in clear beer cups (2" of soil) three days ago and all of the 30 cups are up except for two and those two are both 'Top Sirloin'. That is the fastest germination I have ever had. I used a heat mat on them the first two nights and then needed it for my bum knee and that is the only different thing I did this year.

BTW, the 'Amish Paste' and 'Caspian Pink' were seeds from year '2000 that I planted just to see if they were still viable. Well, they sure are! I planted four seeds in each cup and will eliminate all but one when I start filling with soil. I usually wait until they have four true leaves before I start back filling.

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Congrats! Super exciting to see those little green sprouts, isn't it? I'm definitely going to try the clear cups - by beer size do you mean 16 oz?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 12:50PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

What is the perceived advantage of clear cups?

Clear cups are supposed to be bad for root growth once you put the plants outside to harden.

This post was edited by missingtheobvious on Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 13:03

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 1:02PM
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I mostly just want to see the roots grow. :)

I'll be starting outside, so it's a bit less fiddly than it could be!

I've heard roots don't mind light, and that they do. No personal experience either way.

I'm growing in eggshell cups right now, just to see how effective they are for wicking. And because it looks neat, especially peas.

I'm mostly just puttering around; I know the recommended methods but seeds are cheap!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Yes, they are the 16 oz. size. I could also use the red cups but prefer the clear ones so I can see what is going on. Don't know how they could be bad for root growth once you plant them outside unless you don't take them out of the cups!!!!

I put holes in the bottoms of the cups with a soldering iron and reuse the cups each year. I use these cups for all sorts of other plants also but only use the methods of back filling for tomatoes.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 3:08PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

RyseRyse, I like the back-filling idea and will probably try it this spring (the largest of the first flat of tomato seedlings are large enough to be potted up, but there are still seeds germinating in that flat -- AAAGH -- so I'll wait a bit).

The only time I used clear cups was in 2009, and I remember feeling guilty when I was hardening off that batch, so that spring must have been when I first read that clear cups were a bad idea. I've used the colored 16 oz. cups since then (Walmart's are usually a lot thinner than other brands).

Roots are programmed to grow away from light, so I assume the disadvantage with clear cups is that roots would shy away from the edges of the mix and so wouldn't make use of all the potting mix. Whether it would be a problem indoors, I don't know; I would think it would depend on the lighting. I don't know how much of a problem it would be when hardening off.

digdirt recently mentioned this, and I actually found the thread, over on the Veggie forum:

nialialea, eggshell cups always sound so cute, but I eat my eggs hardboiled. 8-(

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 3:55PM
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I read the thread and all I know is from my own experience. For years I have started plants in the clear cups -- the cups fill up with roots very nicely and when transplanted have a great root system. Sometimes you just have to trust your own judgement. Try it, you'll like it :)

Right now I have 'Tiny Tim" and 'Red Robin' dwarf tomato plants growing in clear juice (gallon) containers that I cut half way off. They are filled with roots and all the plants have little green tomatoes and blossoms. I started those in December to see if I could get cherry tomatoes indoors.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 5:15PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Best of luck with Tim and Robin. I keep saying I'm going to try to grow winter tomatoes in the basement and in the spare bedroom windows, but somehow I never get around to it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:41AM
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Oops, you just reminded me I meant to hollow out the dozen hardboiled eggs I tossed out yesterday. My MIL makes enough easter eggs to feed an army.

Hardboiled are actually just as easy to clean out. With any egg, you just crack the pointy end firmly and peel away a few chips to make a good opening. Then use a small spoon to scoop out the insides if it's cooked, or pour it into the pan if it's raw.

I've used traditionally cracked raw eggs, too -- you get two smaller cups that way.

Just be sure to wash the inside well or it smells a little eggy after a few days. The hardboiled ones have a skin inside that's easy to feel.

I put them in cardboard egg carton, fill with mix, and plant. Put the whole thing in a metal tray and addd a little water occasionally.

Seems to be working okay (100% germination on thyme, basil, cucumber, sweet pea, 50% on morning glory), but I doubt it wicks any better or worse than just the cardboard would. Eggshells are permeable, so I didn't put any drainage holes.

It definitely seems foolproof, and it's really neat looking -- I highly recommend it as an Easter and kid-friendly activity. The peas would make a cute centerpiece or placeholder.

But back to tomatoes, I sowed 24 varieties yesterday in the clear plastic 16 oz cups. Two seeds per cup. If I get two, I'll plant them in one hole or give them away.

Pretty amazing the difference between Jiffy mix and the slightly more expensive NK brand at Ace. The Jiffy had almost no perlite at all, and was much soggier a day or two after bottom watering/soaking. I ended up mixing it before planting with some of the NK just so it'd water relatively evenly.

Bonus with the clear cups, they seem to take Sharpie extremely well!

RyseRyse, are your plastic bottles SIPS? I was thinking of trying some of the really compact dwarfs in soda bottle SIPs.

I hope I get fast germination too -- I'm experimenting with my plant timing this year, and it will be interesting to see if I can get a high summer crop.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Sorry to intrude, but what are SIPS?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:57AM
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