Sunday, April 5, 2009

Seed Starting

I mentioned that I'm using Jiffy-7 peat pellet greenhouses. I went this route for a few reasons. One was my uncle used the Burpee trays last year and complained about them. He said the chambers were too small and it was nearly impossible to get the plants out without either destroying the tray or destroying the root ball. So in looking for alternatives, I found the Jiffys and I liked that the tray and dome seemed to be decent quality -- good enough to last a few years. Also, the pellets have a netting around them to hold them together. This way, you can lift individual cells out as they germinate without disturbing any others. Also, they're very inexpensive. And next year, all I have to do is buy a couple packs of refill pellets to reduce costs even more.

Most seeds call for an ideal germination temperature of 70-75 degrees. I don't have anyplace in my house that gets this warm. I tried the top of the fridge, on top of the furnace, everywhere. Best I can do is a max of 65-68. So I resorted to sticking the tray on an ordinary heating pad for a few hours a day just to give it a boost. I know some say this isn't a good idea since regular heating pads aren't designed for this, but I keep a close eye on them and just use it for a few hours at a time.

What I've been doing is, once the seeds sprout, put them under the lights. Then, once they start to get their first true leaves, I'll thin them to one per pellet, then transplant them to a plastic cup. I remove the netting at this time since I've read reports of the netting impeding the roots.

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