starting seedlings

I am getting anxious to start seedlings.
most of you mentioned i shouldnt plant until the ground is above 70 deg, how does one test? bury a thermometer?
also, most of you said i should start by planting in my starter tray 4 weeks before planting in the ground. how do i predict that the ground will be 70 degrees in four weeks?
also, would it hurt for the seedlings to be started early? how early?
I've heard of trying to pre-germinate before planting in starter trays, can someone recommend a method?
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I'd try to find Crockett's Victory Garden. 1977 Library of Congress # 77-72669
There is no ISBN # and is out of print however perhaps extended family has a copy.
Bill
http://gardening.about.com/od/gardenprimer/a/SeedStarting.htm
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8703.html
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wrote:

Yeah - that's a great book, as long as his advice on chemicals is pretty much ignored. It might be what killed him - he sprayed every damned thing.
www.powells.com often has decent used copies of the book. And, the OP might want to higher a private detective to find out if there's a library in his town.
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Check out: www.fetchbook.info when searching for books. I use them to find ANY book I'm looking for. They give you prices from all available sellers. (And often carry Canadian and UK book sellers.)
http://www.fetchbook.info/Crockett%27s_Victory_Garden._.html
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Soil thermometer. The type of plant determines soil planting temp. Tomatos and Peppers like very warm to hot soils for instance. Peas, on the other hand can be planted as soon as the soil is workable and no longer frozen.

Read the BACK of the seed packet. All you need to know is there.

Read the back of the seed packet!
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I put a few seeds wrapped in a damp paper towel, placed in a small plastic bag (a Baggie is good) and leave on my TV cable box for three days. I do this with tomatoes and peppers. When you open the bag you'll see the little seeds sprouting. If this hasn't happened, you can put them back on the box for another day or so or you can just plant the swollen little seeds. Good luck!
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The best advice that I got on the subject of germinating, came from "The Cook", who posts here regularly. I can't find her exact words but essentially she said you need four things, (1) a simple water proof hot pad, (2) a water tight tray for your flats or six packs to sit in (with a transparent cover if possible), (3) sterile germination medium to sprout your seeds in and, (4) florescent shop lights (cheap) or grow lights (expensive).
In my case I bought a starter tray from a nursery. It has a transparent top, which lets light in and hold in the warmth, and 72 cells to start the seeds in. The germination medium, in my case, is called "Black Gold". I have an old hot pad with controls that say low, medium and, high. I only use low. Mix up the germinating medium with some water. Load your tray with the damp medium and the seeds that you want to sprout and hang the light fixture as close as you can to the germination cells.
That should do it. Read the seed packet for more information on the plant tat you are trying to germinate. Some require light, some don't. Some like to spend a week in the refrigerator on a paper towel, most don't. Some, like anise, take three to four weeks to germinate.
Except for peppers, a little peat moss (acidic) sprinkled on top helps by holding moisture.
Once the tray has sprouted, turn off the hot pad and adjust the light fixture to keep it as close to the plants as possible, without touching them. Give the seedlings 10 - 14 hrs of light/day (I rotate two trays in and out.).
This system as worked like a charm and lets me grow plans not offered by local nurseries and only takes up about four feet on top of a book shelf.
Happy gardening,
- Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
After a few weeks, set the plants outside during the day for progressively longer periods (hardening off). At about the third leaf, if your past the last frost, you can plant.
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