Category Archives: Seedlings

Pruning and transplanting tomatoes

Our average last day of frost has passed for the spring and we are full on in garden mode.  Today we pruned up a mess of the tomatoes we started from seeds and have begun transplanting them into the garden.  The next week is going to be busy for us

They get pruned fairly heavily before transplanting, here are some pictures before and after pruning.  When transplanting they go as deep as possible, each of those root hairs on the stem will become a new root to feed the plant and fruit. 

All these were started in sand and sawdust and will be grown in the same custom soil mix.  We will be putting more tomatoes in our native soil later. 


Here is another plant before and after pruning.  Look at that root system in the last picture.


Starting seedlings with grow lights and seedling heating mat

The seedling heating mat is plugged in and and the seedling trays are being brought up to growing temperature.  Today a bunch of our frost hard and moderately hardy plant will go into the seedling flats and get covered with sand.  A few items like our tomatoes will get started as well but will be protected from frost when they get moved into the garden. 

The pre-plant has been added to the seedling flats.  After the seeds are in and covered it will get watered with straight water through burlap until the seeds have begun to sprout.  Once they do the grow lights will get turned on and we will begin to water with constant feed.  

Kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, spinach, eggplants and lettuce will all get started today.  

Starting green bean seeds

We are late in getting these seeds started, but today we got enough seeds in grow boxes that we can do one full 30 foot grow bed in bush beans.  There are 9 rows in this seedling flat with 15 seeds in each row.

Notice the old vegetable can with sand and a white handled spoon sticking out of it?  IRS my preferred method to cover those seeds with wet sand.  It cover the seeds and the use the back of the spoon to even out the sand with the growing medium.  The sand, when wet, just doesn’t shake out of the can easily.  

After the picture was taken the rest of the seeds were covered and the seedling flat was covered with burlap.  We water the seeds daily through the burlap seeds sprout.  The burlap diffuses the water and helps prevent the seeds from being washout out of the sand.

Want to build your own seedling flats?  See this blog entry.

starting bean seeds in a Mittleider seedling flat

Setting up my second grow light in the basement

We setup our second grow light in the basement to start seedlings under.  If you look under the seedling flats you will see the black seedling heat mats.  The grow lights are each the Agrobrite T5, 4 foot long, 6 tube light fixtures. 

The grow lights are each suspended with their own pair of Apollo Horticulture GLRP18 grow light hangers.  After using these hangers I can honestly say I’ll never have another grow light setup that doesn’t include them.  They make lifting and lowering the lights for watering or general access the seedlings an absolute breeze.

The seedling heat mats are both Hydrofarm MT1009 48 X 20 inch mats that are controlled with a the MTPRTC, digital ETL certified thermostat designed for seedling germination.  The thermostat is digital and very easy to use and setup.  The digital timer to control the lights was more difficult to setup as compared to the thermostat.

Everything is connected to the surge protector and the lights controlled by an inexpensive digital timer/controller.  The lights are on for 18 hours daily and the the heat mats are set to keep the seedling trays at 80 degrees.  

Agrobrite grow light and seedling  heat mat
agrobrite grow light

Mixing constant feed for seedlings

After seedlings are up they require a smaller dose of fertilizer than what would be applied in the garden.   The MGC Book, on page 183 calls for the mixing of 1 ounce of the weekly feed fertilizer to 3 gallons of water.  It also  calls for a sprinkling can to be used for its application. 

An old laundry detergent bucket was washed out and used to hold our constant feed mix.  A measured 3 gallons of water was poured into the bucket and then the water line marked on the outside of the bucket with a marker.   

  
A sprinkling can is simply a can with holes made with a small nail and hammer.  For our own use here at home we took an empty 16 ounce can of green beans and made the holes in the bottom with a small nail.
   

 

Building more seedling flats

The beans I recently started from seeds for my fall crops are growing like mad and will need to be bumped up before I transplant them in the garden.  To allow room for them to grow when we bump them up (transplant) we built a couple more seedling flats. 

 In your Mittleider Gardening Course book you can find a description and dimensions of the seedling flats on page 181.
The flat was filled with the same sawdust, sand and perlite mix that was used in the first one where our seeds are now growing.   The beans will be transplanted into the new flat soon. 

  
 
  

Germination in the seedling flat

This morning I watered the seeds in the seedling flat that I planted less than 48 hours ago.  Once watering was complete I peeled back the burlap to check on them and was surprised to see germination already!   Now that I have germination the burlap will be removed.   I will still water through the burlap to help protect the seeds.

From left to right in the picture that has currently germinated you will see arugula, kale, peas and the beginning of my beans.  I will need to build some additional seedling flats so I can bump up the seedlings as they grow and become confined.  These will be planted in our grow boxes and will have an in garden green house built over them to extend our gardening season.