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To start seeds or not start seeds

15 years ago

I want to try starting seeds indoors. I don't really expect to save money doing it. I am hoping to get the specific plants I want AND possibly get larger plants at transplanting time. Mostly, I will be starting flowering annuals.

Q1) Will starting them earlier give me a longer bloom time?

Q2) Is it reasonable to try and start my own seeds or am I better off just buying plants at the nursery?

I am intending to start the plants in standard nursery flats. I figure I will use between 4 and 8 flats.

Q3) What size inserts should I use? I don't want root bound seedlings but I also assume there is a practical limit to how large I can grow and still be able to transplant. I am thinking 1203 or 1204 inserts.

I plan to use T5 4' fluorescents. Per lumen, they seem the best value.

Q4) How many bulbs in the fixture? 2? 4? 8? Obviously, I want the minimum that will do the job.

Q5) What is the best way to orient the flats under the fixture? Can I put 4 1'x2' flats side by side under a 4 bulb fixture? Cost is the determiner. It seems cheaper to do 1 4 bulb fixture w/ 4 flats then 2 2 bulbs fixtures with 2 flats each.

Q6) Is a mix of bulbs best?

Q7) The FAQ says plain old shop lights are just as good. Why? Cost / Lumen?

Q8) Assuming I have an expensive T5 fixture, how can I get the best use out of it? I.e. Can I start plants, move them to a sunny window/cold frame/etc for hardening off and then use the fixture to start a new batch of seedlings? Or, do I have to have enough fixtures to start all my flats at once and keep them under lights until transplanting?

Thanks in advance.

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