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The Bayou Gardener Family
ccat

Seed Starting Do's and Don'ts.....

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Seed starting 2020 began today.  160 Better Boy, 20 Mountain Gold, 10 Orange Oxheart and 10 Ark Traveler were started for the tomato line up, numerous Yolo Bell Peppers, Jalapeno's, Cabbage and Broccoli rounded out the rest.

The Do's...........get everything set up, marked and take your time so "nothing" can go wrong.

The Don'ts..........Double Planting😪   Gosh Dog-it......In one of my flats, I had planted 36 Better Boy and just switched to Mountain Gold but didn't move to the 4th row, and put them right on top of the Better Boys.   Oh well, we'll see what comes up.   I have never planted Mountain Gold and am hoping the leaves look different from the BB.

Anyway, here's how I plant my seeds for anyone who is looking to start seeds but hasn't yet.   I know everyone has their method and mine probably has a little overkill but it works for me.

I start by putting Miracle Grow Seed Starting Mix in a big Tub and mixing in hot water.   I try to work fast to keep the soil mixture warm.

Next I fill my seed cells, packing them down with my thumbs/fingers and poke a small hole with pencil. (yep, still using the pencil method)

Drop in a seed, and cover with a dusting layer of starter mix.

I then put about a 1/2" of hot/warm water in the bottom of the tray for the 6 pack cells to soak up.

Here's where I probably am overkilling things but it seems to work on germination.   I usually get about 95%+ Germination.  I cover the trays with plastic wrap/saran and set them under the lights.

I have a double decker starting rackj with light for each row.   I just use T-8 shop lights.

I bring the light down about 1/2" off the trays, put the cover over the starting rack and turn on a small heater.

I am starting my seeds out in my shop and use the heater to keep things nice and toasty while seeds are germinating.

I built a cover for the rack out of bubble wrap insulation I had left from my shop build that really holds in the heat, and helps keep it bright once the seedlings are up.

I also put a layer of aluminum foil over each light fixture that hangs down to each tray to help keep things bright.

Again, I know there are many methods for starting seeds, but this has always worked for me.

Good luck to us all this year in our gardens.

ccat

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Ccat— how deep do your tomato seeds end up being in the seed cells?  I don’t seem to have much success planting tomato seed and end up buying my plants. I am going to give it another try here in a few days.  

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2 hours ago, Kenpaw said:

Ccat— how deep do your tomato seeds end up being in the seed cells?  I don’t seem to have much success planting tomato seed and end up buying my plants. I am going to give it another try here in a few days.  

I put my seeds about 1/4-1/2" into the seed starting mix.    But I also just lightly cover with mix and don't pack it down over the seeds.

I think what makes germination so high for me is starting with warm starter mix (with hot water) and using the space heater to keep the area warm.   I am sure a starting mat would do the same, I just have never used one.    Good luck with it.   I used to be intimidated in starting tomato seeds and would just buy 80-100 plants but after my first time starting them, it sure was easy.

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If you can keep the seeds above 75-80 degrees they will almost always sprout and grow.


Disclaimer: All photographs uploaded here were taken for my own use. You do not see any weeds. It is you imagination.

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11 hours ago, Kenpaw said:

Ccat— how deep do your tomato seeds end up being in the seed cells?  I don’t seem to have much success planting tomato seed and end up buying my plants. I am going to give it another try here in a few days.  

If you don't completely fill the cell for tomatoes, then when they get about 5" high you can add more potting soil and the stem will grow more roots. This will give you a better root stock.

Also, I really believe in heat mats for all seeds.  Lights while the seeds on in the ground only give heat, seeds don't need light to germinate.

Edited by Davidx357

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Thanks for the advice. I’m going to give it a try!

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Ccat, thanks for the tutorial on starting tomatoes from seed. In the past I havent had much success at all. I usually just ended up buying plants and stuck them in the ground. But, I thought I’d give starting from seed another try this year. I followed your plan and had great success!  I had 57 cells out of 60 germinate!  By far my best result. I’ve got them out in the shop under a light and will probably transplant to bigger containers by the end of the week. Thanks again for the recommendation on mixing warm water with the potting mix. It made the difference for me!

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For difficult seeds, we have had tremendous success with Parks Biodomes, larger seeds go inside the holes in the plugs and smaller ones on top. After sprouting, we use a quarter then half strength mix of masterblend. 

Best germination and growth rates we've ever seen. Always had issues with okra transplants being shocked until using them last year. Honestly saw no sign of stress after putting them in the garden.

We still use promix for many things, is a lot more cost effect than the plugs and works fine for them.

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