Starting Indoors

Good day!
This is my second year at vegetable gardening (turned out pretty good) and my first time starting things indoors. I live in zone 5B where the ground is still frozen below 5 inches and the days are barely getting above freezing.
I have started some plants in seed flats with a plastic cover (broccoli, lavender, peppers, parsley). I don't have a light over and it's averaging 68F.
Now, the broccoli has germinated and wee sprouts are popping up. Should I move these to my other covered flat under my shop light or do I wait until some "true" leaves show?
It's my understanding that once germination has started the heat requirement is less. Does that mean I can move my sprouted plants to the basement, where it's a bit colder (ie 60F)?
Also, how wet should the soil be? The folks at the garden centre said to drop the flat in 2" of water and let the soil soak it up but that seems to make the soil quite soggy.
Thanks in advance for your advice.
Next week I start the tomatoes, lettuce, mint and oregano.
--
The Good Friar


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You need to have your seedlings in light 14-16 hours a day. Put them so they are always about 6 inch's above the plant. Higher than that and the plant will grow spindly. Seedlings should always be watered from the bottom, not the top. Watering from the top will damage the root system. Soaking them in a pan of water till the pot is wet will work best. At the first leaves appear pull them out from under the cover. If you don't you might get mold. The temp soil of your plants should be 70 to 80 F. Have fun Michael Missouri - Master Gardener Zone 5A
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"Watering from the top will damage the root system"
Wha..? I'm curious, never heard this before. So how does nature manage this? If I have plants in trouble I water from the top for immediate relief, otherwise I bottom water. Just never heard that top- down does damage.
Friar, if you are flying solo and relying on the internet for expert help, do yourself a favor and go get a gardening book or two. I can recommend the New Victory Garden, it has excellent step-by-step info with a monthly planting guide. Starting indoors in zone 5 can take a little patience - I keep rushing my tomato seedlings out before the last official frost, assuming that I can manage to keep the frost at bay, and 3 years running haven't managed to.. This year I'm really going to try holding off until May before planting them out! Even if the things threaten to walk out on their own, I'll try to keep them in!
Seriously, you want decent light for your developing seedlings, I use flourescent workshop lights (2 tubes/light) and keep them as close to the plants as I can (heat is minimal). Turn, reposition plants every couple days to get good exposure (fl. tubes give off less light at the ends than the middle). My basement feels dang cold to me, but the seedlings don't seem to mind. They go from a heating pad upstairs to a cold basement, and seem to do fine. I don't recommend this for everyone, just reporting how mine seem to do ok with this system.
It's ok if the seedlings dry out a little - standing in damp soil _all_ the time doesn't do much for them. Of course if you don't watch out, they can wilt. Heat on for two days dries mine right out in the 6-cell packs.
Good luck with the tomatoes, etc.!
Another Zone 5 denizen
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Mine is a normal (whatever that is) pad and it says low, medium, high.
-Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
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On Fri, 06 Apr 2007 17:48:40 -0700, gonzo wrote:

I've been using Square Foot Gardening as my main guide, but I also went out and bought Burpee's The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener on Thursday and it has answered many of my questions.
Right now frost isn't my biggest problem. Over the weekend I lost all of my seedlings to a mouse that managed to get in to my basement (D'Oh!), though it was only lettuce and broccoli so I'm still ahead. The 30cm of snow we received on Saturday isn't helping me get my beds prepped either. Oh well; improvise, adapt and overcome.

Thanks!

--
The Good Friar


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