My tomato seedlings have a new home: a cold frame

Daniel_NY(7a)April 27, 2013

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

Very nice. All you need is an auto vent opener.

Can I ask why the plants are so leggy or is that all stem you have stripped the leaves off of for some reason? I assume you plan to strip off those pots and bury all that bare stem come planting time?

How long before you can plant in the garden?

Dave

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 12:39PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Dave wrote:

>Very nice.
Thank you.

>All you need is an auto vent opener.
Actually, I⦠DO have an Automatic Vent Opener (Univent).

>Can I ask why the plants are so leggyâ¦

While a few Super Sweet 100 are leggy,

most of the others are ok, imho. As you can see above the Bush Big Boy is half the height of the Super Sweet 100. The Monster bellow is only 7âÂÂâ high. In fact thatâÂÂs how they arrived from the nursery, so there is little I can do now.

I mean I had waaay leggier seedlings, and they grow ok.

>or is that all stem you have stripped the leaves off of for some reason?

Yes, I stripped off most of the leaves, because they were not pretty healthy. Here I explained what happened: Some of my tomatoes seedlingsâ stems wilted.

>I assume you plan to strip off those pots and bury all that bare stem come planting time?

Well, the planting time is not very soon. I plan to grow seedlings around 3 ft high. I am able to do that by removing one by one those short 2 x 4âÂÂâ so I can lower the potsâ support.

I will strip off those pots and mixed them with soil.

I plan to do Trench Planting - L shape method: 1 ft. horizontal - for more roots - and 2 ft. high - to avoid splashing on leaves. Yes, there will be straw bail mulch too, butâ¦

>How long before you can plant in the garden?

Not before May 15. Two days ago we had 39â in the morning. These days is getting warmer. Probably IâÂÂll plant after May 20. Or - weather permits - before, if the plants become too crowded. I live in Long Island, NY.

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Sat, Apr 27, 13 at 15:00

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

The maximum opening of the Automatic Vent Opener (Univent) is 18âÂÂâÂÂ. In the case of my pretty big cold frame, those 18âÂÂâ are not enough.

Till midday it is ok, it works fine, but when the temperature outside is higher than 60â F, in the cold frame, the temperature can easily reach 90-100â F, which obviously is too hot for the seedlings. In that moment I HAVE TO open the lid completely.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:53PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

In my opinion, in order to have a successful cold frame, you HAVE TO be available 24 hrs. / day for it. Having an outside job from 9-5 will NOT allow you to take good care of your cold frame.

An example: letâÂÂs say in a nice, sunny spring day, there are 39â F at 7 oâÂÂclock in the morning. If you have to go to work, you have two choices:

1. to leave the lid on, and in less than 2 hrs. you will have 120â F, and 95 % humidity in the cold frame; or,
2. to open the lid: a little or completely. If you open a little, is about the same as choice # 1 above. If you open completely, the temperature will drop ABRUPTLY from around 60â F, to 39â F, and most likely ALL your seedlings will die.

Even if you use an Automatic Vent Opener (Univent), the max of 18âÂÂâ opening, will not be enough. In few hours the temperature in the cold frame wil reach 100+ F.

Another example: few years ago we had a macroburst - a kind of a mini-tornado - here in New York. Very heavy winds, lots of rain⦠Obviously if youâÂÂre not home, you can not - at least - put a cover on the cold frame, for some protection.

Now, if the lid is open, you can kiss good bye your plants.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I am impressed with your ingenuity. That's a very nice set up. I have always worried about what might happen with a cold frame given the temperature fluctuations and unexpected storms we have this time of year. I'm gone all day at work, and my plants are vulnerable to some different problems while hardening off without a cold frame, especially wind and hail. Every year is a bit of a crapshoot no matter what you do. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Tx Ohiofem. Good luck to you too!

Dave wrote: > Can I ask why the plants are so leggyâ¦

Dave, how do you define leggy? I mean what diameter should have, in your opinion, the stem of a 8âÂÂâ high, healthy tomato seedling?

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Sun, Apr 28, 13 at 19:10

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 6:38PM
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rwsacto

Daniel,

Very well engineered.

Actually, you can make it work with your auto opener. Install a small fan, maybe with a gravity louver or on the lid itself, that will ventilate the box. Put a microswitch on the edge of the lid. When the opener opens, the fan ventilates.

Also put a removable chain on the lid so the wind cannot lift it like a sail.

Also also, if you use CFL bulbs, you will get three times more light for the same amount of heat.

Good Luck,

Rick

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:19AM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Rick wrote: > Install a small fanâ¦
Smaller than the one that I already have (4âÂÂâÂÂ) ?

The reason why I put that fan, was mainly to move slowly the air to reduce condensation. In the same time the leaves move so I can avoid possible diseases. The fan ONLY works during the night. During the day, while the lid is opened, fan is not useful. Light winds move slowly the leaves, and humidity lowers fast.

>Also also, if you use CFL bulbs, you will get three times more light for the same amount of heat.
I thought about CFL bulbs, and I will think again, thank you.

> Good Luck

Thank you.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:26AM
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rwsacto

Rick wrote: > Install a small fanâ¦

Daniel wrote:> "Smaller than the one that I already have (4âÂÂâÂÂ) ?
The reason why I put that fan, was mainly to move slowly the air to reduce condensation. In the same time the leaves move so I can avoid possible diseases. The fan ONLY works during the night. During the day, while the lid is opened, fan is not useful. Light winds move slowly the leaves, and humidity lowers fast. "

Daniel,
Add a vent fan the same size, one that brings air through the side wall and out the open top. If it gets hot inside, the top will open and the fan will ventilate. If it cools down, the top will close and the fan will stop.

On my coldframe, the fan is switched on the automatic opening lid and routed from the top through dryer vent tubes under the ground. This heats the ground slightly and reduces the humidity.

Good Luck,
Rick

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Rick:

>Add a vent fan the same size, one that brings air through the side wall and out the open top

I thought about adding a fan on the side wall. I have this Broan Fan. The only problem I found is that cold air will enter even if the fan is NOT working. I mean it will not be tight enough.

>If it gets hot inside, the top will open and the fan will ventilate.
I think the lid is too heavy to be lifted by fanâÂÂs air.

>If it cools down, the top will close and the fan will stop.
Probably. IâÂÂll have to try.

>On my coldframe, the fan is switched on the automatic opening lid and routed from the top through dryer vent tubes under the ground.
Now thatâÂÂs smart. Can you post some pictures ? Errr⦠automatic opening lid?

>This heats the ground slightly and reduces the humidity.
Yes.

Good Luck to you too. And thank you for suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:40AM
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rwsacto

Daniel,

Sorry, no pix, cold frame is put away for the summer.

You have a univent thermal opener on the lid. Install a contact switch so your exhaust fan operates when the lid is opened by the opener. This is the same type of switch that turns on the dome light when you open the car door.

Rick

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 2:00PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

I understand, tx.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 11:37PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Yesterday my seedlings looked like this:

Today they look like this:

What happened was a malfunction of openining the lid - not UniventâÂÂs fault, my improvisationâÂÂs fault, trying to open bigger.

Few hours later, when I came home the lid was closed and 137â F inside. The soil was - obviously - dry, so i watered the plants.

What do you think I could do?

This post was edited by Daniel_NY on Sun, May 5, 13 at 17:15

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 4:28PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Any hope they might recover ?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 5:22PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Daniel: I am so sorry to see that. Gardening can break your heart sometimes. I don't know if they will survive. Some may, but you might be better off biting the bullet and buying or even starting new plants. It is still early.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 5:34PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

yeah, well...

most likely i'll have to buy new seedlings.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 8:06PM
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Jetherina(5b)

I'm so sorry about the losss of the plants.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:14AM
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sugi_c(9a)

Aack! Sorry that happened, Daniel. But it was quite a nice and creative setup! Perhaps with new seedlings, you can transplant when they are shorter than three feet, given your May last frost date, if you're starting again. Hope you can fix whatever went wrong with the opener!
And given the humidity that I imagine this cold frame can have, I'd opt for plastic containers instead of the peat pots you appear to be using this time around, if plausible.

Good luck!!

Grace

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 4:11PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

What a heartbreak! So sorry this grand experiment didn't work out, I'm sure you'll tweak this and better luck next year.

Last year, when all my toms, peppers, and eggplants got snapped off in a freak hail storm, I cried.

Hope you can get a hold of some starts, stay calm, and carry :^)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

Back to square one:

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 1:42PM
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n1111z(6B)

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.â ~ Napoleon Hill

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 5:55PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Never give up ! Life must go on.

I salute you, Daniel.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:32PM
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rwsacto

Daniel,

Sorry about the damage caused by your learning experience.

Another suggestion: Replace your clear lid with a shade cloth lid or row cover lid when the danger of heavy frost has past. This will keep high temperatures at bay, provides a frost blanket on a rare chilly night and provide shelter from a cloudburst (the rain drops breaks up on the cloth and sprays gently into the box or runs down to the wall)

You have electric heat (lightbulbs) and your ground temperature will be warm enough to survive a few cold nighttime hours just using a shadecloth lid.

I built a light shade cloth lid that I mount on top of the clear lid in the few weeks of in-between weather and then use as the only lid in warmer spring weather. It is still opened with the automatic opener and activates the fan within.

Once it is warm enough to plant out, my coldframe is done for the season.

Hope this helps,
Rick

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Daniel_NY(7a)

@ n1111z: Smart guy, that Napoleon Hill.

@ seysonn: Yep,life must go on.

@ rwsacto: Thank you for your suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 10:02PM
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