grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Indoor Seed Starting, Another First

Well this was scary!

5 foot shop lights mounted under the shelves already in the basement, coconut fiber pellets and evil peat thingys (I bought these before I knew how bad they were).

The coconut fiber pellets were a pain in the ass. First of all, they don't come with instructions. I suppose they think anybody who would buy these is a seed starting expert but it just so happens that I'm clueless. Thankfully MBT had left a comment before saying to add water to rehydrate this stuff. I have tons more of these left but I tell ya, Winter Sowing was so much easier! And I will definately be doing some Spring Sowing with the remaining containers I've saved.

After I finished setting things up down in the garden cave I looked around on the internet and found that most references said I should place the lights about 12 inches from the seeds for about 14 hours per day. Well as you can see, mine are way closer than that. Not only that but I think in order for me to move them 12 inches away, I'll need to build something. Booooooo!

One huge lesson I learned is it is virtually pointless to order a single pack of seeds from Park. They send so few in each pack! I had ordered Ice Plant seeds because I wanted to plant the narrow bed by the basketball court with these but there is no way I'll have enough seedlings for the entire 25 foot bed. I sure hope they have more in stock because it looks like I'll be placing a second order.

Once the seeds come up and it's a little warmer outside, I'll move them out to the new growing rack that santa bought me. Well, that's assuming that I can assemble it. It also came with no instructions. What is with you people and your no instructions???

So, even though this was a huge pain in my rear, I'll be going shopping for more seeds to stress over tomorrow. Because, that's just how I roll!


  1. Gina,
    you were right the first time - leave the lights a couple inches away from the top of the containers, right where you've already got them. At 12 inches away, the lights would be pretty much useless to seedlings. Unless the seeds need light to germinate, don't stress until you have germination. lol.

    And those little pellets are easier to hydrate if you either use the hottest water from your faucet, or boiling water and then let them cool.

    After you have seedlings, lights on anywhere between 12 and 16 hours is good. If you can hook up a timer to the lights it'll make it easier for you. :)

    See, this is why I made a post about seed starting - so many people stress about it when it isn't something that should be 'overthunk'. lol.

  2. tina - thank you thank you thank you! silly question but how in the heck do you water those pellets?? i have a lot more of them to use. thanks for the email too! i'll check out that site for sure.

  3. Gina,
    those pellets are usually placed in some sort of a tray so that you can just water the tray and the pellets will soak up the water. Be really careful if you DO use a tray or container (you can pop them together in smaller things like cool whip containers to make it easier to handle) make sure to dump out any water they don't absorb in a few minutes or you'll have tons of trouble. And they tend to dry out really fast under lights.

    I have sort of a love/hate relationship with those things, though I do use them for starting lots of stuff. As long as you keep a diligent eye on them, you'll be fine!

  4. I actually use these little reusable strophome things from Gardeners Supply Co. to start my seeds. They have a wicking system, so all you have to do is keep water in the reservoir, and I only have to check that once every couple of days at the soonest.

  5. Way to go Gina! I'm glad you are starting seeds indoors now. Keep working with it and you will find what methods you like. It really is rewarding in the end. Keep it up!

  6. I'm jealous of your setup! I have shelves where I could put the grow lights, even, but I never think to set it all up until it's too late.

    I hear you on Park seeds, btw. I got so disgusted with the small quantities that I decided not to order from them anymore, even. (That, and I didn't get good germination from them at all!)

  7. I use cheap dixie cups filled with 1/3 vermiculite (sp?), peat and good soil with no fertilizer for seed starting.
    The dixie cups are real cheap compared to the seed starting containers- use a push pin to poke about 4 or 5 holes in the bottom if you wish. If the cup begins to break down after a month or so just place it in a new one.

    I use several fairly cheap 4' light kits from HD mounted with velcro plant ties (cheapest adjustable stuff I could find). As the plants grow I adjust the velcro lifting the lights.

    I added a small space heater and encased the table with 1 Mil plastic, looks like an indoor greenhouse.

    I am a little concerned with the eneregy costs this year though...

  8. nice setup, any sprouts? I just started my indoor setup. It is the first time I've ever done this. Keep up the good work with the blog.

  9. Hi Gina - I'm in Chicago too and this is my first year starting seed indoors also. Can't afford the single plant prices for tomatoes & broccoli and such.

    It sounds (from what I've read, not experience) that you are on the right track.

    So what's the update. I started a little later than you. But I do finally have tomatoes, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, some flowers and just starting to see signs of some peppers.

  10. Great stuff!! The winter in Toronto has been so long, I simply needed to see something coming out of the ground, so got pellets, bought some seeds like Bacopa white and blue, proper heating light ( I hope) I bought some morning glories as well, planted these talk about fast action like two days they are 1 inch out of the ground, well I checked around and read to replant these deeper, and less light to make them sturdy, there was a suggestion to turn on a fan, to make the stems sturdy, hey I do draw theline somewhere, is there anyting one can do once spindly has started??? Thanks Gina!

  11. I dunno if I just have bad luck or if Park sucks, but 1) I TOTALLY agree with you on Park needs to put more seeds in their packets and 2) the Park seeds that I'm starting indoors have had the worst germination rate of any of the seed brands I've used.

  12. I am about to embark upon my seed starting adventures, so I was googling and found you! I have never had too muuch luck in the past but I am feeling optimistic because I finally have the right setup. I am envisioning these husky little seedling growing so big and strong. LOL but, we will see. Good luck to you! I enjoyed the visit.