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I am going to help my Grandson with his small garden and this year he wants to start his own plants from seed. He is 14 and this will be his third year having his own garden.

When do you start tomatoes, peppers etc. and what mix do you use for starting soil?

Any tips will be a great help.

Thanks for any info to help him have success.
 

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My rule of thumb is 6-8 weeks before you want to plant them in the garden. Last year I used a couple of those greenhouse kits the stores sell - I think they were just compacted peat moss, but with the plastic cover that keeps the moisture in - that seems to help with germination.
 

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I started my tomatos a week ago, they just germinated and popped up over the last 2 days. I started my peppers on Sunday, they should start popping up on Saturday. Walmart had miracle grow seed starting formula on sale for $5 for 25 or 30 lbs. I use the 120 cell flats with the clear cover I picked up at ACE for $4.50, and I bought an aquarium lid with the grow bulb in it at goodwill for $0.99. I built a rack for it, and I hang the light by small chains so I can adjust the height as the plants start. I give the plants 16 hours of light per day, and water them with 70-75* water.
 

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For light, would letting the plants sit near a SE facing window be enough? Basement is keeping about 65 degrees with a woodstove. Might look to do this, this year too.
 

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I'm mot sure...An article I read had said 16 hours of light a day, I let the sun do it's thing during mid day, and have the light on a timer. If you think about it, nature doesn't supply additional light other than natural length of day, and plants have been growing for millions of years on their own ;).

They also make incadecent grow lights if you have a spare lamp, but they do get very hot, and getting the right distance can be a little trickier.

I think 65* is fine for growing them, and if you do get a flat with a lid, and have it in a window, the soil will heat up a little on its own. I'm sure there are hundreds of ways to start seeds, I just explained the way I do it, and it works for me.

Whatever you decide on, good luck!
 

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Woodsnut said:
For light, would letting the plants sit near a SE facing window be enough? Basement is keeping about 65 degrees with a woodstove. Might look to do this, this year too.
My Buddy who owns a Green House, Starts his pepper and tomatoe seeds in his house, he uses a West Facing Window and turns the plants once each day so they grow upright and do not bend toward the sun...

He grows them on that west facing window for about 5 weeks (HE has tomatoes and peppers started already and sitting on that west window sill) then takes them to the green house and transplants them into six packs to be later sold.

You can use a window, just make sure you rotate the trays atleast once a day so the seedlings Grow Upright and that window sill is not a perch for a dog or cat or your going to end up loosing seedlings!
 

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Thanks woody,

I forgot to mention turning trays, big mistake the first year I did it,lol.

Also, once they get to about 3", lightly brush over the tops with your hand once a day, this simulates wind, and will help grow a stronger plant.

I just checked on my soil to see if its drying out yet, and my tomato plants are about 2 1/2" tall. I wish I had more room in the garden for a diverse crop, but living in town, I only have a 10x20' unit with those topsy turvy hanging baskets all over the porch.
 

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puma,

Are you doing seed flats for startes or individual 6 pack cells as starters?

My Buddy uses seed flats, when the seedlings have 4 sets of leaves, he takes them to the green house and transplants to 6 pack cells, normally 5 weeks.... Cuts down the cost and agravation for him to do it that way starting in his house, he does not have to worry about a fire burning out in the stove in the middle of the night in the green house, he is already heating his house and does not have to get up in the middle of the night to run to the green house to make sure the fire is still going..

Something he explained to me a few years ago when he taught me how to transplant the seedlings from the starter flats to the 6 pack cells.. he said the more you transplant a seedling before it goes into the garden, the better it will grow, they might droop a little at first, but in the end when they go to the garden, they are stronger and healthier then if they were started straight in a 6 pack cell..

We did a few in 6 packs cells the year after he taught me how to transplant and the others he does in the starter flats...he did this to show me the differance....I was surprised, there is a Differance that can be seen!

If you can learn how to start in a seed flat and then transplant to a 6 pack, try it sometime!
 

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I do what Big Trout said. Start my plants indoors 6-7 weeks before I can plant them outside. I usually start mine the last week in March and plant them outside around May 15. I don't like starting them real early. Its a lot of extra work for not much gain IMO. You can buy a seed starter mix at almost any home and garden place.
 

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Woody,

I start my seeds in a 120 cell flat, then I transfer to 3" peat pots. I only do the peat pots because I only start enough plants for me and me father(120 plants combined), he plants the pots directly in the ground after slitting the sides, I usually remove the plants ans save my pots for next year.

I wish I had a small green house, but until I have a permant lake to work at, I bounce around every few years. I didn't really get into gardening until 4 years ago, and would love the oportunity to have something in the 50x100' range for a garden.

Whaler,

I may start too early, but with this years reloading done, and firewood season a little ways off, it keeps the cabin fever away.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replys

Does anyone set their plants outside, during the day, a few weeks before they plant to "harden" the plants, or use a "cold frame" to harden their plants?

Also talked to a guy who said he puts a piece of #6 copper wire about 3" long next to each tomato plant to stop the blight. Anyone try that to stop the blight?
 

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Thanks for the info and tips all. Not sure If I'll have time to give this a shot this year or not. I have so many other projects planned for the spring I may skip this year for now. Good luck with the gardens in 2011
 

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BR,

Yes, I harden mine off, I start by putting them on the porch for 2 hours the first couple of days, then gradually increase their time out. I usually start when the temps hit lower 50's.

Also, when you transplant them to the garden, do it in the late afternoon or when its overcast, the sun can be harsh on them the first day or two.
 

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puma4440 said:
BR,

Also, when you transplant them to the garden, do it in the late afternoon or when its overcast, the sun can be harsh on them the first day or two.
Good to know. First garden I planted 4 years ago was planted on a scorching hot day in May- only day I got off work that month. Everything was dead in two days even with heavy water AFTER planting. whoops. Learned a little and had a solid first garden that year after replanting everything in wet soil and on a cloudy evening.
 

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70 degrees is the desired temp. Start them in LOOSE potting soil. store bought is fine. I like to mix peat moss with alittle of my compose.
 
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