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Seed Starting Time VI

Chris (6a NY)
6 years ago

Chapter VI: Summer Begins!

Lots of harvesting has already begun in the North, and has been going on in the South. Garlic is curing and all of the heat-loving plants are producing fruit.

Now that the early crops are harvested, it's time to start preparing the Fall garden!

Post your harvests and Fall garden plans :-)

Comments (482)

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Hokie - I bought my German Butterball and Austrian Crescent Fingerling potatoes from Debruyn as well. I got 6 lbs. total for $8.50. Too bad the shipping added on another $15.

    When planning to save bean seeds, I try to stagger the plantings so that 2 varieties are not blooming at the same time so no crossing will occur. I've heard that beans don't readily cross but staggering can help prevent it as well.

    This just reminded me that I need to do a germination test of the bean seeds I saved last year.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Yeah that's a good point. You guys should read that guide, I posted the link a few days ago. It's a good read. It tells you about isolation techniques and about the vegetables that "inbreed"(that's how they refer to self-pollinating plants lol). The "strong inbreeders", like tomatoes, their anther forms a cone around the pistil to prevent cross-pollinating(we've all witnessed this). Though unlikely to cross-pollinate, they say sometimes bees can break through the anther and extract pollen, and cause cross-pollination.

    It's loaded with lots of seed-saving facts about different vegetables. It's mostly geared toward mass-producing, but has info even for the hobbyist.

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    Nice looking harvests!!! Those Bolero look really nice Peter. I have Bolero seed for this fall that I will be planting in about a month. We finally got some rain here yesterday afternoon. I started hearing some thunder a little before noon and went out to the garden and it was very dark to the north so I decided to quickly pull all of my remaining 50 or so onions before they got rained on. I got them all pulled and hung in my shed just as the sky opened up. I also pulled all of my carrots yesterday morning. Both the Scarlet Nantes and Little Finger had started to bolt in the last week so I wanted to get them out before they developed woody cores. Not a great harvest as they were not planted in an ideal location but I got about 13 lbs. from a 10 square feet area. We had some with dinner last night and they were good but not nearly as sweet as fall harvested carrots. A deer found my cantaloupe overnight on Saturday and nibbled off the growth tips of a few of them but didn't touch the beans right next to them. I had bought 10 yards of tulle on Thursday to cover the melons and my squash to protect them from pests but I didn't get it on until Sunday. Hopefully the tulle and hoops will deter the deer as well. All of the melons should recover except one. I needed to thin them anyway :)
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  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Oh and Peter, I just received an e-mail from Johnny's saying their new catalog is on the way. Be on the lookout!

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Chris - I took a glance at the seed saving guide that you posted. It looked pretty thorough and interesting but since I grow mostly hybrids I doubt I will ever try to save seeds from much other than beans. I am most interested in good fruit production rather than seed production. I think it would also be somewhat difficult to do as a evening and weekend gardener. My garden is also too small to allow for the isolation distance required for something like peppers

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Very true. Being backyard gardeners, it definitely limits our options...unless you plan on only growing 1 variety of each species. Most of us grow several varieties of each species and right next to each other. I will definitely do some experimenting though.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    You can self pollinate nightshades... I have seen tutorials on Youtube. Only takes a few minutes. No isolation required. You manually open flowers that are about to open but haven't yet, pollinate and then cover with a bag to prevent future contamination.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Well look what came in the mail today. I haven't ordered from Burpee in years, but clearly that doesn't stop them lol. I don't even know what Jung Seeds is.
  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Wow this feels like Christmas! All came at once!
    I love how Baker Creek gives you a free pack of seeds with every order. They gave me Cosmic Purple carrots this time.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hey Chris, I started a new topic for 2017. :)

    http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/4349177/seed-starting-time-redux

    I'm jealous...

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Oh wow lol. Ok thanks!
  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    5 years ago

    "I also save 'seed' for garlic and horseradish :) lol"

    Hard not to save it, once it gets established. It would be like 'saving' thistle. ;-)

    "Yes, Fortex seeds are definitely something to try saving."

    If you want to save seed from Fortex, plant them as early as possible. The pods take a lo-o-o-o-ng time to go from green to dry. One of the hardest of my beans to save seed from.

  • hokiehorticulture
    5 years ago

    Chris, this thread is so huge i could not find the link about seed saving you posted....could you post again? Many thanks!

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Yeah zeedman - I'm not sure it's possible to get all of the HR root out of a plot without a backhoe. Kind of like Labron James...you can't stop it, you can only hope to contain it. lol

    Chris - I received 4 catalogs in the mail yesterday as well. Johnny's, Jungs, Territorial, and Nourse farms (where I ordered my Asparagus roots last year). Not sure how I got on the Territorial mailing list. That makes 8 total so far.

  • hokiehorticulture
    5 years ago

    Thanks, Jack! I need to keep in touch with you regarding your purple passion asparagus. I just ordered 20 roots of it from DeBruyn and am going to plant in a few months. Would love to compare notes.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    All I got was a lousy Gurney's catalog. WTF.

    Who knows how we get on these mailing lists. They must share them, I get all kinds of catalogs from places I have never done business with.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Sounds good. I'm really looking forward to tasting a little of both of the purple types this year. Debruyn has great prices on Asparagus and well as most other things. I bought my purple passion and pacific purple from Nourse Farms. I got 25 crowns of each for around $50 plus shipping. IIRC there were over 30 crowns of each shipped. They recommend planting the purple varieties at 8" spacing rather than the normal 12" to keep the spear diameter from getting too big.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I wish they would mail the catalogs in early December. If I need to order something like Onion or Leek seed that I need to start in early January it is too late to get the catalogs now. I prefer to do the shopping online, but I like to look at the pictures and descriptions in the catalogs. Johnny's catalog also has a lot of good cultural tips that are not on the website.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    Yeah I need to pull the trigger on my Johnny's order in the next week.... I have onions and leeks to plant!

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Glad to see someone else ordering from Nourse. I was researching a little to find a good source for berry plants and found them. I ordered blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Anyone ever try getting berry plants from there?

    I couldn't wait to grow something, so I've been doing germination trials over the past month, using older seed. I'm also testing out this Greek basil. I really like the small leaves and how dense it grows.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    No berries here other than some wild raspberries that I pick once in awhile. Nourse farms is supposed to have great quality though so I think you will be pleased. I think just about every one of my purple asparagus crowns came up and only a few females which was a bonus.

    We have had a few salads from my indoor lettuce. Muir is a really good type to grow indoors because it grows so fast. I can cut the outer leaves and within 4-5 days they are ready to harvest again.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Good to hear!

    Hey how often do you all change your grow light bulbs? I was reading this book called Mini Farming and the guy says that they should be replaced after 2 years, no matter how they look. This will be the second year for mine, but I was wondering if anyone has experienced a difference in plant growth with older bulbs? The T5 bulbs aren't very expensive. You can get them on Amazon, 5/$23.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    I am replacing mine this year (3rd year). The plants were definitely more leggy by the end of the second year (it had been on for months growing onions.)

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    I think their is a thread in the growing under lights forum that discusses this in depth. I'll see if I can find it. The T8 daylight 6500 lumen bulbs don't need to be replaced very often. Maybe every 4-5 years depending on use. I've been using my oldest T8s now going on 5 years and they are still doing fine. The cheapo T12 fixtures usually don't outlast the T12 bulbs because the ballasts are crap.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Mine is a T5 HO. I think it is 5,000 lumens.

    All I know is my late season starts were very leggy last year and I am not taking any chances and replacing the bulb. It'll be good to have a backup anyway.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Agree, it's good practice and somewhat cheap. I wonder if the grow lights I use can handle T8 bulbs, I'll have to research that. I would love to use wire shelving like this and hang the lights from each shelf. The shelving is cheap and it saves space.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    What does "rated up to 18,800 lumens" mean?

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    I haven't been able to find the thread I was looking for. Peter uses the high output lights so that may make a difference in how fast they decline in efficiency.

    Chris - I don't think you can use T8s in fixtures intended for T5 I think the bulbs plugs in T5 fixtures are too close together to use the larger T8s.

    I think I have a several new bulbs still. A good way to check would be to use a light meter to check the lumens under new bulbs and then measure periodically to see how much/fast they are dropping. All I need is a light meter!

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    You can really get crazy with growing indoors lol. Using different lights for different spectrums, to try replicating the sun at different angles. Some spectrums are good for root and leaf growth, some for flowering. You can really get caught up in it all, if you choose. I prefer not to complicate things, but it's definitely intriguing.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I did a little more reading on the growing under lights forum and the consensus seems to be that fluorescent lights that are not cycled on/off frequently do not lose their efficiency nearly as fast as those that are cycled frequently. Most bulbs are rated for 20,000 - 24,000 hours of use which would be 1400-1500 days at 16 hours/day. If the bulbs are only cycled 2 times a day then the bulb life expectancy can be as much as doubled and only lose about 3-5% efficiency per 5000 hours (about 1 year) use.

    Adding reflective foil or such can also greatly improve the available light. I have some behind 2 of my 3 shelves and it really seems to make a difference.

    Garden pictures · More Info

  • zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin
    5 years ago

    For many years, I used T-12's in shop-light fixtures, and had good results (other than, as previously mentioned, the ballasts burning out). However, that was before current Federal 'efficiency' standards made it hard to find tubes with a decent light output. It used to be easy to find T-12's with over 3000 lumens; not now though, unless you go online & pay big bucks. Even T-8's at that rating are hard to find, unless you go for the more expensive HO.

    There is a great grow light option which I feel is too often overlooked - high bay commercial fixtures. The high bay T-8 fixtures are generally 6 bulbs, with high-efficiency reflectors. I first saw one when they mounted it over a machine I was working on... wow, was it bright!!! I have since switched over to 3 of these fixtures for seed starting (Home Depot carries an affordable version) with 6500K T-8 bulbs. The wider coverage & greater output produce seedlings that are squat, and require very little hardening off.

    And yes, after 2 years of seed starting, with lights on 16 hours a day, there has been no noticeable reduction in light output. Even the onion seedlings stay short, without trimming. I did purchase a couple boxes of good tubes online, though, just in case T-8's suffer the same Federally-driven reduction in light output as the T-12's (the tubes available from local Big Box stores are already limited to around 2000 lumens).

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    I did not know that they were limiting the output on the T8 tubes Zeedman. I'll have to check out HD here to see what they are offering. I'm not sure I'd trust UPS to deliver a box of 4 ft. fl. bulbs. I used to work there in college and I can't see the bulbs making it thru unscathed very often.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    The single T5HO fixture I have does the job, but barely. It has to be very close to the plants, and they are usually a bit on the leggy side. Next time I would buy a multi-bulb fixture.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I have the single fixture like you, Peter, but I also have an Agrobrite 4ft, 4-tube fixture. That thing puts out a lot of light, but I've struggled a little with germination because it gives off a bit of heat. There's no way you could put this thing a few inches away from newly emerged seedlings or it will fry them. And if you put a humidity dome on top, it turns into a sauna inside.

    Last night I sowed arugula, Swiss chard and beets, in a 128-cell flat. I'm hoping they don't dry out too fast. I'll most likely have to water them everyday, in order to get decent germination.


  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    Why not just wait to turn the light on after they germinate.... I have to water seed starting trays almost every day in my house for germination regardless, we have a really dry heat and they dry out fast. I prefer doing that to the dome. But I haven't tried a flat.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    That's a good idea. I could just use the heat mat to start, with no light on. Good point, I'll give that a try. Thanks!

    I'm trying to test germination with this big light for when it's actually time to grow things lol. If you recall last year, I had problems with some peppers and tomatoes germinating and ended up having to purchase some seedlings. I'd like to avoid that.

    That single fixture light is great for germination because it's not harsh at all. The only problem is that you can only fit so many plants under it.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    I don't think arugula, swiss chard, and beets need a heat mat, either. :)


  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Haha, yeah they probably don't NEED one, but for some reason this room gets very cold. Though, these all do enjoy some cool weather. I should get a cheap little thermometer for the room, just to see what the ambient temperature is, so I'm not overdoing it :-)

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Hey Jack, or anyone else who weighs their vegetables, what scale do you use?
  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Chris - I just use a cheap digital scale I bought at Walmart. It's not ideal for some bulkier things because I can't fit much on the scale footprint.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Ok, thanks. I saw some cheap digital scales on Amazon.
  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    Peter, I know you wanted to give basil a try indoors. Check out this Greek basil on the left vs the Sweet Italian basil on the right. I haven't tried either yet, but I love the small leaves on the Greek variety. Great for growing in a small pot and can be used whole on top of pasta or bruschetta.
  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    Yeah that looks nice, I think I will try growing some when I get the grow light out. You have those just on a windowsill without supplemental lighting? That's surprising, there is so little sun right now...

    That Greek basil looks like oregano.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    No, they are growing under the Jump Start grow light.

    Yeah it kinda does. I've seen a lemon basil with even smaller leaves than this Greek variety, but I can't find seeds for it.
  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Was just ordering a book from Cappers Farmer and stumbled across this article about storing potatoes for growing. http://www.cappersfarmer.com/yard-and-garden/vegetables-fruit-and-herbs/potatoes-and-sustainability. What a great idea! After curing them, she puts any potatoes the size of a large egg in egg cartons and puts them in the fridge.

  • LoneJack Zn 6a, KC
    5 years ago

    Chris - Just don't try to crack them open in the morning when you are still half asleep...you don't want to bruise them!! lol.

    I have 16 (1.5 lbs.) French Fingerlings in a paper bag in my extra frig that are looking as perfect as they did last fall when I first put them in there. I will use this method again next year to store seed tubers for the German Butterball and Austrian Crescent seed tubers I ordered this year.

    As a side...I was looking at Johnny's prices for potato seed and my jaw just about dropped off my face. I just don't understand how they can charge so much and get people to pay it. Then most online potato vendors won't ship in March to areas that need to plant in March.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    Mine are in a ziplock bag and are still like new. I will definitely try to save seed next year, with the cost of seed potatoes what they are.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Haha Jack!

    Honestly, I think Johnny's is a bit overpriced in general. Even lots of the tools they sell are absurdly overpriced.

  • Peter (6b SE NY)
    5 years ago

    Yeah forget about buying anything but seeds at Johnny's, it all has a large markup. Not that local garden centers are any more affordable.

  • Chris (6a NY)
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    That's why I love Amazon. I buy most of my supplies from there.