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GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,917
1/27/13 3:21 P

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Thanks for that link. I read this before and wanted to try it but forgot all about it. I'll try it tomorrow. emoticon emoticon







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MICHTOTMAN's Photo MICHTOTMAN Posts: 815
1/27/13 10:58 A

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I, too, am in zone 5 and more than 5,000 feet above sea level. Our growing season is short and we've got to make the most of it!

I start seeds too - in my basement with grow lights, as many others have stated. I have to plant eggplants in January or I will not see a single eggplant. Tomatoes and Peppers are mid-February. Some flowers need to be started that soon as well. It seems like every 2 weeks or so I'm moving something out of the "just planted" are a and planting something new.

I found this last year and thought I'd try it this year. I've got to find a milk jug or two (we don't buy milk in 1 gallon jugs) but I think I might try to throw it together this week. If it doesn't work, nothing lost as I'll still have my regular plants too!
www.agardenforthehouse.com/2010/12/w
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MARYGOAROUND's Photo MARYGOAROUND SparkPoints: (3,242)
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1/26/13 12:43 P

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Thanks for the tips to plant!

Trying to keep things organic is really a constant battle. One has to think about what's in what? PVC pipes leach, I use them because I couldn't something else I could afford despite the fact I hate PVC, is it still organic? What's in the cardboard? chemicals? Ink, is it natural, which doesn't mean much legally. Some folks reuse pallets; I'd like to do that for my compost, but first I have to check into the wood and what's in it. Pails, plastic, metal... it goes on and on. I try to think organic and also as much as possible renewable/Eco-friendly etc

Carrots are a throw away crop; they suck up metals for example; one has to be careful where they are planted and in what type of container.

It's a crazy world.

GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,917
1/26/13 9:32 A

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I was thinking of trying those also so I hope someone answers. I just thought that they would fall apart quicker from bottom watering. I used to use newspapers for starting new beds, now I just use all the cardboard ffrom Amazon deliveries LOL! I never gave it a thought as to whether it was organic or not.






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GREBJACK's Photo GREBJACK Posts: 3,272
1/26/13 9:25 A

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I second that advice about burying the edges of the cow pot or peat pots - God only knows how many pitiful little plants I killed emoticon I stopped using pots before I figured out that was the problem and then didn't start again to save money, but I've been thinking about trying the homemade newspaper pots. (I know this makes it unorganic, but I sometimes shred newspaper into my compost because I have so much more green than brown to throw in, and my local paper is printed with soy inks - I don't use the glossy ad pages) Anybody else used newspaper pots, and was it worth the effort?

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GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,917
1/26/13 9:03 A

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I bought a 4 shelf mini greenhouse for hardening off and after a few years the plastic cover fell apart so I moved it into the basement and rigged up flourescent lights (with grow bulbs or full spectrum) hanging from chains and hooks for each shelf. I plug each light onto a surge protector power outlet which is plugged into a timer. The shelves themselves are light weight and easy to move. I bought another mini greenhouse to use outside. I'm too lazy to keep hauling all the trays of seedlings in and out every day. The mini greenhouse only cost me $45.00 but you could use any metal storage shelves that have opening on the shelves themselves to hang hooks. I also have a small cold frame but if you put hoops over your beds (I use PVC pipe from the hardware store) and put the plastic over the hoops (they sell clips for that purpose online) you could uncover it for a few hours every day. Be careful your seedlings don't get too much sun or they will burn or too much wind at first.

I just use the Jiffy or Burpee seed starting plugs and trays. I recycle from past years after washing carefully. I also save trays and pots from seedlings I bought at a garden center. Be sure to use a seed starting formula and water from the bottom i.e. just put water in the drain tray and the seedlings will wick the water up once they are larger. When I first plant the seeds, I use a fine mist sprayer and keep the top of the soil moist along with covering them to help germination. I have one heat mat and use that for peppers and eggplants which seem to need more heat than other seeds, but as CB said the top of a fridge will work also. I also save the plastic containers from salad greens and fruit to use. The seeds need to be covered until they sprout. I transplant when they are a little bigger than 2 sets of leaves and also put in larger "cow" pots so I can eventually put the whole pot in the ground (just make sure to bury the entire pot or they wick off moisture from the growing seedling in the ground.

Here's are good tips from "Kitchen Garden Seeds":

www.vanengelen.com/pejtest/13ESSEED.
ht
m


Edited by: GABBY308 at: 1/26/2013 (09:18)





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MARYGOAROUND's Photo MARYGOAROUND SparkPoints: (3,242)
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1/25/13 3:21 P

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Thank you for the post. It will really help me improve my indoor endeavors :)

CBRINKLEY401's Photo CBRINKLEY401 SparkPoints: (66,758)
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1/25/13 1:24 P

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I use solid trays (about 1' x 2' in size) for under the individual pots to hold water (I've found these at most stores that carry garden supplies - Home Depot, Menards, Kmart, Walmart for example). The individual seed starting trays, which have holes in the bottom for drainage, go inside that (my brother got them for me. I don't know where to buy them, and they are starting to wear out, but you can use the bottom of a milk jug - 2 to 3" high - or foam trays that mushrooms, berries, etc. come in, as long as you poke holes in the bottom for drainage). I put seed starting mix in those, make 3 or 4 rows with a pencil, plant the seeds, sprinkle soil over each row, and label what I planted in each row. For small seeds like petunia or impatiens, I just sprinkle the seed over the surface of the entire tray and then cover. Each solid tray holds 6 of these seed starter trays. I have plastic covers to help keep moisture in. Initially I may set them above the refrigerator or on my kitchen counter in front of the window, checking daily for signs of germination. Once they have sprouted, I remove the covers. If you leave the covers on and the sun shines through them, you will cook your plants.
I have 4 foot grow lights which I hang once the seeds sprout. I try to keep them fairly close to the surface of the plants. I can hang 2 over my counter by the window, and also have a couple over the workbench downstairs in front of a south facing window. Seeds usually like warmer temps to germinate, so I don't put them on the workbench initially. Once they have a few true leaves, I carefully transplant them into individual 6 cell packs. I don't like to use the really small ones (that fit 12 6-packs to a tray), because they would outgrow those and need to be transplanted again too soon. I use largest ones for tomatoes (8 6-cell packs to a tray) and medium ones (10 6-cell packs to a tray). Once they are transplanted into individual pots, I do have to put them downstairs as well, since there just isn't enough room in my kitchen for all of them. I've even used a wire shelving unit with grow lights attached underneath each shelf, or a long table, in front of a south facing window in our guest bedroom for additional plants. I don't use additional heat at all, since I don't have any heat mats.
It's best to turn the trays daily if you can, but do so at least every few days to keep the plants from tilting to one side permanently.
Once the weather warms up enough, I start taking the trays outside during the day, first putting them in the shade, then slowly moving them more into the light. I bring them in at night until nighttime temps are warm enough. I don't bring them outside if we are expecting anything more than a light drizzle, as heavier rains can knock plants down as well as knock lots of soil from the pots. If the weather doesn't cooperate and I can't plant my veggies into the garden, I just transplant them into bigger pots, so they don't get overcrowded, root bound, leggy, or run out of nutrients. My tomatoes are usually in 4" pots by the time I am ready to transplant (I usually plant at least 3 dozen tomato plants but have planted as many as 8 dozen some years, which is why I have to wait until it is warm enough. There's no way I am able to cover that many plants if we get a cold spell).
If you don't have too many plants to protect, then you can easily just cover them with a blanket draped over the tomato cages. For added warmth, fill up milk jugs with hot water and put those between the plants - not too close of course - and then cover. This allows you to plant them outside sooner. Since you plant in raised beds, the soil in those does warm up faster than just planting them in ground level plots, so soil temps shouldn't be as much of an issue.

If it's to be, it's up to ME.

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MARYGOAROUND's Photo MARYGOAROUND SparkPoints: (3,242)
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1/25/13 12:28 P

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@CBRINKLEY401

I just reread your post and have questions. What does your indoor starting seed setup look like? Lamps, heat, moisture, size of pots, transplant time, repot time, etc - any info would be appreciated.

I will try the June 1 as well this year, but my plants have a tendency of not making it that long indoors so I'm not sure. How about planting them before that but keeping them under a plastic cover. I do square foot gardening and have 4x4 raised beds so they are easily covered; in fact they are covered now for the winter.

Thank you

GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,917
1/24/13 9:20 A

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I start tomatoes,eggplant and peppers mid March and set out plants mid May. If we have a late frost I just cover the raised beds or I use the gallon milk jugs I save over the winter (with bottoms cut off). I do start a couple of tomatoes like one cherry in Feb, to plant early under Wall o Water. The tomatoes started later seem to catch up to the ones planted earlier in a very short time anyway. If you use milk jugs to keep seedlings covered you just have to remember to take the cap off if the sun is out or the plants will cook - it's like a mini greenhouse.

I start broccoli and cold weather crops anywhere from now until the end of February to plant as soon as the ground is warm enough to plant.






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GREBJACK's Photo GREBJACK Posts: 3,272
1/23/13 7:30 P

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I start seeds in February - largely because I have a week off work and the porch on the front of my house is drafty but with storm windows rather than screens, it's well above freezing as long as it's not truly frigid outside (today it's 8 degrees outside and I'm pretty sure the temp on the porch is close to 32 Fahrenheit). I set them out in mid May and in Chicago I'm pretty sure I sometimes had tomatoes before school was out (which would be mid late June) but I haven't done as well with tomatoes since moving to Massachusetts.

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EEVEE1's Photo EEVEE1 Posts: 4,426
1/23/13 7:08 P

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i follow the package directions pretty close for starting, so about 8 weeks before May 24 weekend, which is the big planting weekend here. The closest I have gotten to July 4 for tomatoes is last year. I got a few handfuls of early cherry tomatoes which were in a pot, not in the ground. Beefsteaks in the garden were a couple of weeks later.


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MARYGOAROUND's Photo MARYGOAROUND SparkPoints: (3,242)
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1/23/13 6:29 P

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This is a topic of interest to me. I'm still trying to figure things out myself. I'd appreciate any information/links myself :) Thank you.

CBRINKLEY401's Photo CBRINKLEY401 SparkPoints: (66,758)
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1/23/13 4:40 P

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I prefer to use the longest time listed when starting seeds. That also gives you time to replant if you don't get enough come up the first time. 8 weeks for tomatoes, 10 for sweet pepper and eggplants, 12 weeks for hot peppers. The smaller the plant initially, the more time I give them before planting outside. Same with herbs. I also will move them outside during the day as soon as the weather warms up enough, so they get natural light as well as wind which strengthens the stems, and just move them back inside after dark until the nighttime temps warm up enough to leave them out. Same goes for flowers if you start any of those from seed as well.
I'm near Chicago, and usually wait until after June 1st to transplant outdoors. If you have ways of protecting plants from late frosts or cold spells, like the WalloWater, then you can go a couple of weeks earlier, if the soil temps have warmed up enough. If the soil is still cold, then transplanting early can cause your plants to stop growing, so you end up harvesting later by not waiting. I plant lots of tomatoes, etc, so there is no way for me to protect so many against unexpected cold spells.

If you want to warm up the soil faster, you can lay clear plastic over it. This solarizes the soil, helping it warm up faster as well as encouraging weed seeds to germinate, and then get cooked when the sun is magnified through the plastic.

We rent plots from the park district (we get the same plots each year and have added tons of leaves and other organic matter over the 20 years we've been gardening there), so we have to wait until they get the plots ready before we can plant. I haven't kept track of when we start harvesting, since we can't control when we will be able to get in and plant, and because they usually aren't ready too early, I don't plant many early spring veggies, unless I want to plant them at home.

Early spring veggies - carrots, potatoes, radishes, peas, etc - can usually be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. I wait until May 15 to plant the warmer seeds like corn, beans, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, basil. And as I said, I wait until June 1st to transplant my peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and any others I decided to start early. I don't let them get leggy in their pots, but will transplant them into larger pots until I can transplant them, so they remain healthy and compact and have plenty of food available.



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GABBY308's Photo GABBY308 Posts: 7,917
1/23/13 1:22 P

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OK I know what the timetables say but I rarely follow them. Mostly because my seeds aren't started in ideal greenhouse conditions but on shelves with "grow" lights and 6-8 weeks just never seems long enough to get early tomatoes or peppers, especially when I can't technically plant until 5/26 or thereabouts. I even plant tomatoes under "wall o water" to get earlier tomatoes, but I am still about 5 days shy of getting a tomato by the 4th of July which has been my goal.
It's 5 degrees here today and I'm thinking about harvests!

Since I start most everything from seed, I was just curious when the rest of you zone 5 gardeners start your seeds?

When do you set out your plants for different vegetables?

Do you use anything special to get an early jump on harvests?

What's the earliest you ever picked a ripe tomato? (If it was by the 4th of July, how in the heck did you do it?)

What are your favorite Spring vegetables and when do you plant them?



emoticon emoticon emoticon

Edited by: GABBY308 at: 1/23/2013 (13:26)





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