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Second round of seed starting

Seed starting

I give myself about a week of wiggle room in my planting calendar, figuring that a few days early or late won't impact the seedlings much and can allow me to fit each planting into a much more favorable weather period. On the other hand, I sometimes use that week of wiggle room for the sake of my own sanity instead. For example, I planted a flat of tomatoes, borage, and cabbage a little earlier than I'm supposed to as a way of keeping the is-it-really-still-white-outside? blues away. Huckleberry was less than impressed at the way I continue to fill up the sunniest spots with seedling flats, but I reminded him that he's not really supposed to sit on the table anyway.

Herb seedlings

The previous round of seedlings are doing well, with only the fennel yet to sprout. Age might be a factor, but it's also possible that the fennel are just taking longer than the members of the mint family --- after all, my lovage seedlings only started poking out of the ground a day or two ago.

I did go through and thin the faster sprouters, slaughtering hundreds of baby seedlings in one fell swoop. I hadn't expected to have such near-perfect germination rates!


Bleaching seedling flats

I've also been pleased to see absolutely no damping off, which could be due to a number of factors. Honestly, I think the most relevant is the time of year and weather --- my earliest plantings often tend to skip that problematic fungus, presumably because it hasn't woken up in the wild yet. But it can't hurt that I've been soaking the seedling flats in bleach water before planting, and that I've been more careful about taking off the clear lids as soon as I notice the first sign of germination. The latter technique lets the surface of the soil dry out just enough to keep seedlings happy but fungi out of the picture.

I've still got a flat of broccoli to plant, but I finally ran out of non-frozen stump dirt. I'll probably break down and buy a bag of potting soil from the store, but that's a slippery slope --- with unlimited soil, I go a little crazy, and there are only so many sunny windows to go around. In fact, Huckleberry thinks I'm already past quota! Maybe I'll have to pull out the seedling card table sooner rather than later.



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Funny you should mention soaking the plastic flats in bleached water. Back about 10 years ago when a friend was running an organic gardening seminar out of Rural Resources in Greeneville, TN, she mentioned that one of the things you do to prepare for the season was to take the old plastic pots and flats and soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach to sterilize the pots. I had forgotten about that and just remembered a few days ago. So I did the same thing and between that and sterilizing the soil in the microwave for 5 minutes in an old ceramic pot about 7 inches wide by 6 inches deep, it seems to finally fixed the problem I was having with strange little flying soil gnats that had been attacking my plants.
Comment by Na Yan Thu Feb 26 09:15:20 2015
I usually use yogurt cups for pots since they can be individually removed with ease. With the cold I have been itching to get in the dirt so I decided to separate out the extra seedlings that germinated and plant them into unused cups. I ran out of cups and am using paper pots. Now I am running out of flats for the pots to into! It's nice that 9 cups of kale has turned into 63! I will probably be planting them everywhere and giving them to neighbors if I run out of space.
Comment by Brian Thu Feb 26 10:39:04 2015
It seems mold becomes a problem when you over-water and/or if there's poor ventilation. I use only composted horse manure straight out of the pile for my seed starts and never have any mold issues. Fungal spores are everywhere, so even with fastidious attention to pre-cleaning your hardware or seeds, as soon as they hit the air, they're contaminated again.
Comment by doc Fri Feb 27 17:13:08 2015