Starting seeds now?

turquoise(5)February 13, 2007

Hi everyone! I'm getting spring fever and would like to start some seeds. How about you, are you growing anything yet? Do you have any suggestions of plants that will do ok with an early start? I can never keep it all straight.

I hope everyone's staying warm! It looks like this weekend will be looking up here in Madison, almost 40 by Monday (it sounds balmy)! Could spring really be coming??


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You might want to check out the Winter Sowing Forum, turquoise.

Inside, I'll be starting marigolds and some other flowers end of March as soon as I return from vacation (I'll be using lights to speed things up). If I was going to be around, I'd probably start some things end of Feb.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 3:42PM
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I started my onions and celery tonight. I'll be starting my Peppers Mar. 1, Broccoli & Cabbage Mar. 25, and Tomatoes Mar. 30.

I've been starting my own plants for 4 years now and really enjoy it. All I started out with was a 4 foot double bulb fluorescent fixture, an old waterbed heating mat, and two flats on a workbench in my basement. I'm now up to 2 8 foot fixtures and 3 four foot fixtures and two warming mats. I'll be doing 10 flats this year.

I found an excellent book when I started gardening 6 years ago called "Home Gardening at its Best" by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan. It's a great all around book that focuses on vegetable gardening. I've used the Starting From Seed chapter so much, I photocopied it, laminated it, and hung it on my starting bench in the basement. He is in Connecticut but assumes a last frost date of May 10, which works for me.

That cabin fever has a lot of work to get me down!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 11:11PM
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You bet. I started in January with the slow sprouters and slow starters. These are under lights indoors. I also had some very old seeds that I wanted to test for germination (coleus, nicotiana, petunias, amaranthus, some peppers and eggplants) so that I could buy new and resow if they were not viable.

So far, I've got baby celery, eggplants (black beauty and touch of lavender - none of the old seeds, which were Japanese and Chinese varieties), sweet peppers (rainbow mix, new seeds), Bulgarian carrot peppers (new), amaranthus (from seed packaged for 1989), nicotiana (12-year old seed), rudbeckia hirta (autumn colors), shasta daisy (snow lady), dianthus (an annual variety), pansies (flambe and blue frost), sweet williams, carnations (English giants), delphiniums, monarda, impatiens, and gaillardia. All seem to be quite happy so far. Others are planted but not yet germinating (I doubt the old coleus, eggplants, or petunias will do anything).

I've never tried winter sowing before but am going to go for it with my cold crops - put in spinach last night, will also put in broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, collards, radishes, beets, parsnips, turnips, lettuce, onions, pak-choi, Chinese cabbage, regular cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and corn salad.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 7:53AM
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Wow, look at you guys go! I pulled a few canna bulbs out of storage, maybe it's too early but in a sunny window they should be ok. I haven't started any seeds yet, but with all of your suggestions I think I'll get started this weekend. Thanks very much, I hope everything turns out nicely for everyone!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 9:00AM
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I never thought about giving summer bulbs a head start. When I put the cannas in storage, it was December and so warm out they were ready to get going again, so I hope they didn't die. (My sister put the bulbs in her garage and forgot about them instead of cleaning them up, letting them cure, and putting them away like I instructed her to do in October.)

turquoise - I sort all my seeds at the end of the year into 4 containers, numbered 1, 2, 3, and "outdoors". In January I pull out #1 and start indoor sowing. I'm almost done planting those things. This winter sowing lark may change my method if it works. That forum claims you can start tender annuals (e.g., squash, tomatoes) using the method, so I'm going to experiment with the heat-lovers but also plant them indoors so as to avoid putting all my eggs in one basket. Hardening off is always an iffy period when I lose a few seedlings so if the winter sowing helps avoid that, I'll be a convert for sure.

Also - since we are neighbors, let me know later if you've suffered any type of crop failure ... I ALWAYS have too much so if I can help fill in any gaps, I will be happy to give away excess "foster plants" to good homes.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 9:17AM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Other than tomatoes that I start on 4-1, most of my veggies are direct sown or bought as plants. In Feb. I do start petunia, impatiens, gazania, portulaca and, this year, foxglove. March and April will bring many more. The best tip I learned years ago is to use a 50-50 mix of warm white and cool white florescent lights. This gives a wide enough spectrum to tide the plants over until they start going outside in May.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 4:08AM
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Great tips, thanks very much!

Chaz, I don't know if starting the cannas early really helps, but it's nice to see something coming back to life. Most of them will stay in storage, but I've started a few bulbs. Last year I started them and they did pretty well. They really didn't go crazy until they got outside, but they're so strong they didn't get weak or leggy either.

The weatherman said we should be leaving our subzero temps behind by tomorrow, let's hope he's right. I have hardy bananas (musa basjoo) out in the yard, I'll be shocked if they survive this year. :(

I'm going to start a few tomatoes (Glacier) in a few weeks. I know it's early, but I can't resist plunking a few seeds down to see what happens. I'm going to try Wall O Waters so hopefully I can get them outside by early April. It's definitely an experiment and doing stupid things is sometimes how I learn about gardening (and I have a lot to learn)!

Chaz, thanks very much for the offer, it's very nice of you!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:48AM
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I see that a heat wave is on its way.

Tomato seeds are in container #2, so around March 1 I'll start them. I finished planting seeds from container #1. In the interim I will focus on winter sowing. Kale and spinach are already in their containers, just soaking up water at this point. I'll put them outside tomorrow.

I read on the bulbs forum a thread where someone said he was starting his caladiums indoors in pots. I'm buying a large quantity of them so may give it a try.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Chaz and Farmerboy, are you starting some of your hot loving plants like peppers and eggplants a bit early ?

When are you planting ? Do you use a coldframe ?

If not, don't your plants get a bit leggy and rootbound since you probably transplant around Memorial Day ?

I've got the bug, but I don't want to start to early. You guys must have some ideas that I am missing.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 6:39PM
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Some would say it's too early, but I always start eggplants and peppers in Jan/Feb and usually have good success with them. The flats and grow-light set-up are in the spare bedroom, against an inside wall, so the cold isn't an issue.

Last year everything went out on Memorial Day. I remember because it was in the 90s and I spent 20 hours of a 48-hour gardening weekend out in the heat!

I'm also giving the winter sowing idea a try. All my peppers are planted now (and sprouting, indoors), but will give it a go with some of my tomatoes. At this point I've only put cold crops in the winter sowing containers - kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, tat-soi. But lots more will follow.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:37AM
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vino man, if you use Wall O Waters, you set out toms and peppers 3+ weeks earlier...that is very helpful.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2007 at 11:11AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Right on Elvis! I actually get my tomato and pepper plants out about 6 weeks early. Biggest help to me is that it gives me a chance to pick the right day, get them in, and avoid all the heavy rains that will set planting back a few weeks. Tomatoes work best, peppers seem to be OK but haven't seen any great advantage to the WOW's.
Regarding starting seeds, I'll be getting the veggies rollin' this weekend, I'm just going to winter sow the flower seeds and see what happens. I have a few pesky rabbits that will chew off anything that I plant early.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 1:31PM
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So, daddylonglegs--you are impressed with the WOW's for toms, but a little ho-hum about using them for peppers?


    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 3:03PM
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I had the itch last night-mystery foxglove,dicentra(yellow vine)roman shields,money plant,double white hollyhock,coleus, but the dicentre says put in the fridge in potting medium for 21 days then could be 10 to 90 days till germination, isnt that crazy- 1st time posting on the board but a 3 year lurker have a good one......

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 1:17PM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

Con, last year my pepper plants just sat there, didn't grow at all while in the WOW's. Only started growing after Mem day when I took off the WOW's. Had a bumper crop though, so maybe they were growing roots the whole time. But the tom's on the other hand went crazy in them, as usual.
Luder, germinate in fridge then 10-90 days to germination? That does sound crazy.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 1:42PM
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Curiouser and curiouser. Here's what says about dicentra scandens:

'Sow seed in flats and keep at temperatures of 64-72 F. for 2-4 weeks. Move flats to a cold area (25-39 F.) for at least 4 weeks. Maintain an even moisture throughout this period. Once the cool period is complete, place flats in a 45-55 F. environment. If sown outside, sow in the fall and allow the wintering cycle to occur naturally.'

Yeoww! Directions like these make me crazy. For me, this means: sow indoors, leave for 3 weeks. Move to unheated garage or outside if the temp is suitable, but don't forget about them. Wait 4 weeks. Now it's the third week of April or so. Start treating them as normal WS?


    Bookmark   March 2, 2007 at 2:52PM
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