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Planting from flats  RSS feed

 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I was going through my seed collection and I noticed half of my seeds need to be started in flats and transplanted.

I know that Sepp plants directly into the ground and I hear from people on both sides of the fence stating yes do the flats, or no just sow directly. This will be my first planting for my urban yard and I have no space inside to store seedlings as my cats will destroy them. My option would be to clean off some shelving in the garage, but there is no light source. Perhaps I could invest in some lights for them or leave the overhead fluorescent lights on?

I will list the seeds in question and let those of you with experience advise as to which ones I should just plant directly into the ground and which ones must absolutely be started in flats first. As a side note, all these seeds were purchased from Bountiful Gardens if you need further information on any individual items. Thank you very much!!!

Mammoth Sunflower
Teff
Arkansas Traveler Tomatoes
Chives (onions Bunching- scallions)
Lyon, Prizetaker Leeks
American Blackcurrant
Blackcap Raspberry
Bush Cherry
Piricicaba Broccoli
Primo Cabbage
Beit Alpha MR (cucumbers)
Hardy Kiwi (vine)
Alpine Strawberry

Most all the berries/fruit state to begin in the refrigerator and keep in flats-to larger pots for two years...I'm really crossing my fingers on these. Thanks again for all your help!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9741
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Personally I would not start the sunflowers in flats, they seem to do just fine planted in the garden.

 
C.J. Murray
Posts: 92
Location: 5,500 ft. desert. 13" annual precip.
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I would direct sow in your climate. Sowing in flats does a few things. You can control the germination temperature better. You don't need to thin as you will be transplanting far enough apart. You get a head start when there are still morning frosts. The plants do not need to compete with faster germinating/growing plants.

When they say to start in the refrigerator I think they are trying to imitate the conditions as if the seed spent the winter outside (stratification). Go ahead and follow those instructions unless you can accomplish it outside now.
 
Chris Dean
Posts: 108
Location: South New Mexico Mountains
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You may want to try both just to see which works for you, or what's best for each seed.

A word of caution on planting directly, make sure you keep an eye on your seedlings. My first year of planting I scattered almost all my seed, and then found out too late that pill bugs were eating them all as they emerged. Not discouraging you from it, but in addition to watching them closely it may help to sow a portion and see if you have any problems before sowing everything.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I am so very happy to hear these replies.

I think it may be a good idea to keep some back. I bought a lot of berries, so it should be no problem to sow a packet and keep one on hand just in case bugs or environment overcome them.

If the ones with the refrigerator instructions just want to simulate the winter perhaps I should plant some now? It's anywhere from 40-65 during the day and the nights still get down below 30 most of the time. I guess it couldn't hurt to experiment a bit with the raspberries; I have four packages.

Thank you so much everyone!
 
C.J. Murray
Posts: 92
Location: 5,500 ft. desert. 13" annual precip.
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Chris Dean wrote:A word of caution on planting directly, make sure you keep an eye on your seedlings. My first year of planting I scattered almost all my seed, and then found out too late that pill bugs were eating them all as they emerged. Not discouraging you from it, but in addition to watching them closely it may help to sow a portion and see if you have any problems before sowing everything.


Chris is right. Which leads us to: http://www.permies.com/t/11913/permaculture/Controlling-pill-bugs
 
                        
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
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In my opinion you should start all of the perennial plants( berries, bush cherry,currant, kiwi, strawberry) in flats or plug trays along with any hot season vegis like your tomatoes and cucumbers, although you could get away with direct sowing the cukes in Texas I bet. With the toms and cukes you will get a lot more harvest if you start them early and tomato seed has tended to wash out when I water them, if planted in raised rows, or get forced too deep in the soil to germinate properly, in lighter soils, when I direct sow. You can remedy your lack of space by making a cheap "hoop house" outside where your cats wont destroy them. I have built them out of pvc pipe and/or willow branches bent into arches, make a row of them and then drape clear plastic over the arches anchoring it with rocks or stakes at the bottom, this makes a nice little hot house where your plants can germinate well. The hoop houses are at least cheaper than trying to germinate seeds under grow lights which suck up a LOT of electricity.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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Four hours of work and I have my hugelkultur bed and 3 fence plots ready for planting. Our soil is heavy clay and even more so for the raised beds as I just took some top soil from a new building site. I mixed in organic store bought compost to lighten it a little ( a very little in my opinion) as our compost won't be ready for a few more months.

The other garden beds will be clay, not so heavy as that in the back yard. They were just tree rings with mulch. I don't think there should be any issues with the seeds floating away. We don't get very much rain at all and they should be pretty well stuck where they get planted.

I guess I'm mainly concerned with throwing my $200 seed investment down the drain if I sow them outside. However, I have no idea where else I would keep them. I'm concerned with my car being in the garage with the plants as it's in really bad shape and leaks several different fluids. When I get home from class it stinks for hours of transmission fluid and oil. I'm not sure what that would do to some seedlings. My question stemming from that would be if I must plant them in flats could these flats be left outside? We have very high winds here, so they would be subject to some amount of that no matter where they are located in the backyard.

My raspberry and currant I purchased several and so I feel okay trying one package of each outside, but the rest are single seed packets and I would hate to waste those. I'll tell my husband to get started on a window shelf so we have someplace to "greenhouse" about 50 starters. Thank you everyone for your support and information!
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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When working with small seedlings, flats offer the advantage of being able to tend to a large number in a small space. I see broccoli on your list. I'll use it as an example.

It will take 75-90 days from seed to harvest. Typical spacing is a foot or two. 20 plants will take up 20-40 square feet of space in the garden beds. If started in the beds, the soil can't be mulched until the plants emerge and reach a height of a few inches. During the month it will take the plants to grow to that size the soil is bare and exposed. You'll have to pull weeds lest they gain a foothold. A late frost or heavy rain can leave you starting over. Being the only plant in a big space, your little plant as the only food source for bugs and critters to go after. Small roots mean that plant is susceptible to dry conditions if you are not able to water for a few days. It's not easy being a plant.

On a shelf, 20 plants will take up an area the size of a cutting board. Placed on a tray, water can be added to keep the soil moist for several days, giving you a chance to keep them alive while you are out of town. While the seedlings grow, the bed can be mulched, suppressing weeds and preventing rain from compacting the soil after you have put in all that work to keep it fluffy. When the plants are big enough to transplant, put them outside for a couple of days to toughen up. They go in with roots big enough to keep them going should it be dry for a few days. If a hungry bug comes along it might take a bite, but the larger plant is not consumed outright.

The purpose of flats and pots is to give the plants a survival advantage during it's weakest time. It also lets you use the bed space for other plants while seedlings are still in flats. Getting a broccoli up to transplant size can take a month or more. You can grow radish in the beds while the broccoli grows. The broccoli spends 60 days in the bed instead of 90. When its time to take the broccoli, you can have something else ready to go into that space as soon as it opens up. When the bed space is limited, flats allow you to use the space to better advantage, even getting an extra crop out of the growing season.
 
C.J. Murray
Posts: 92
Location: 5,500 ft. desert. 13" annual precip.
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My first greenhouse was connected to a south facing window of our house much like a window air conditioner. This allowed the plants to be outside, under plastic and protected from wind and rain during the day. It also allowed the heat generated by the sun shining on the greenhouse to be passively circulated into the house through the open window during the day rather than needing a fan. A big advantage was the sunlight being reflected off the wall and striking the plants more evenly thus preventing the leggy, leaning, growth seen so often in plants grown on a window shelf with sunlight touching only one side of the plant. In your case this could be built large enough for 4 flats of starts and the flats brought in the house at night and the window closed to conserve heat. As the plants get older and need hardened to cooler temperatures prior to transplanting leave them in the greenhouse overnight.

Cucumbers: I find the best early results (if wanting to get a head start) to be germinating them indoors, 3 to 4 seeds in a pot about the size of an 8 oz cup or a little larger and letting them grow to the first true leaf (and no more than two true leaves) and then plant out. Cucumbers roots head to the bottom of the pot as soon as they germinate. The faster they are transplanted to the garden after the first true leaf is of a decent size the faster they are allowed to grow their roots deep in the garden instead of becoming rootbound in the pot. The same thing goes for watermelon and cantaloupe and squash.

Tomatoes: My best results are planting in a deep narrow container and allowing to grow to two true leaves. I then slow the growth down by cooler temperatures at night and then plant to the garden. If grown in too large of a container a lot of the soil falls off because root development was mostly down. This is not necessarily a detrimental thing just a waste of purchased potting soil. I have planted as young as 1 true leaf which allows the narrow container to be less deep. I plant up to the first true leaf in the garden.

Broccoli and cabbage: I sow in a wide not too deep container and then once they are of two true leaves I transplant above the cotyledons to individual containers. This helps me prevent them being leggy. Grow with cool night temps as they get larger.

Water the plants in the morning if in a window greenhouse so they don't dry out while you are gone during the day. My father-in-law commented that if you’re a little late milking the cow things were okay but if you’re late watering a tiny tomato it is a goner.
 
Raven Sutherland
Posts: 164
Location: MAINE
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you always plant a big pointed ended seed pointing north
(the tap route always emerges out of the pointy end)

by first knowing which direction is magnetic North and then
holding the seed between your thumb and forefinger push
the edge of the seed into your loosened soil.

What this does is to reduce the amount of twisting around a sunflower stem
needs to do to raise its first two primary leaves to face south.

When Planting your garden plant in the rows and have back up plants
ready to go in where others fail from extreme weather, predators whether furry
or insect or feathered.

Broccoli and peas,lettuce are not too bothered by frost or snow and thrive on cold
and then any protection created for them is all the better.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Hi Lori, just an extra idea:
I've never started berries/canes from seed, but I have a feeling they could be a bit of a pain.
I'd love to hear how they go, but finding a source of locally-proven plants as backup could be well worth your while.
I'm unfamiliar with the varieties you list, but raspberries, strawberries and currants are extremely easy to propagate from roots/runners/cuttings over here.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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Well, I'm just going to have to go for it and see what happens. My husband has a month or two before he can get me some shelves for a window. He says two shelves before they get low enough for the cats to destroy. It's the only window with good sun. I dug out most all the bermuda grass from around our backyard fence and I'm planting the raspberries around this. I'll save one package of them for indoor growing. Perhaps I'll get lucky and some of them will take off outside on their own.

I love the idea of a window greenhouse, but it won't work for us unfortunately. Our house has one south facing window which stays completely shaded by a huge fruitless mulberry. I Think I'll go dumpster diving to find some old windows perhaps I can make a greenhouse box to keep in the front yard where it isn't shaded. I saw one on a video this may me my only good option.

My garden space is quite limited so that's good to know about the broccoli issue. I think my best bet is to sow half outside this year, then build some greenhouses (mini) to grow the other half. Since this is my first year, I think an experiment with a couple seeds is acceptable though it still makes me nervous.

Thank you everyone!
 
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