Growing veggies from seed for the first time

I have several types of heirloom tomato seeds as well as some peas, onions, spinach, etc. I haven't done too well with store bought plants in the past, I think because the soil is pretty clayish. There's a lot of sun but not completely sunny because of overhanging trees.
I used a tray (around 3' by 1') from a local store that uses some kind of peat moss disks with an indentation to insert a seed. A total of 55 seeds went in. It's moist and now I wait for the seeds to germinate.
The first question is what kind of lighting to get. From what I read, full spectrum fluorescent tubes are probably the best, I guess a four foot fixture? T12 or one of the newer formats?
I'll need some way to control the height of the fixture but I can rig up something. There are some prefab systems at the local store but they start around $150 which seems way too much for something so basic.
There's also reflector types of bulbs like this:
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xj8/R-100195838/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId051&catalogId053
but I can't see those providing the coverage that the fluorescent can.
Finally, I'm planning on using some former lawn areas for more growing range, and I think I'll need to hit the whole area with a lot of peat moss. I will probably also try to use the weed block stuff (black material).
Any comments welcome.
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dgk said:

Hope you started these a few weeks ago.

You can direct-sow peas.

From seed???

You can direct-sow these, also.

For most veggies, you'll need full sun (at least 6 hours per day).

Flourescent lighting is probably the worst. But, it's probably the cheapest. If that's what you use, make sure to keep the lights close, and I mean close, to the plants. Raising the lights as they grow.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xj8/R-100195838/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId051&catalogId053
No experience with those, sorry. Tho, I'm sure the results would probably be about the same as a flourescent light.

Why do you think that?

What was your geographical location again?
Remember, peas and spinach are cool-season veggies. As soon as it gets warm, they're done (tho New Zealand spinach will thrive in the summer - it's also not really spinach).
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Eggs

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I've started seeds indoors and had good results indoors using just a southern facing window location that gets plenty of light.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net said:

Ditto, here. But, depending on location, it's getting a bit late for certain seeds. =) And, I'll take natural sunlight over flourescent, ANY day! ;)
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Eggs

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Here's a grow story for you. Here in NJ last week the cops broke up a multi-miliion dollar pot growing operation involving several seperate houses and many individuals. They were growing it in the basement, had the electric service bypassed, etc. The whole thing came undone because a cop driving down the road smelled burning pot and stopped to investigate. Turns out the dummies were burning the plant remains in a fireplace....
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On Wed, 31 Mar 2010 05:56:27 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

If only that had composted it.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net said:

LOL!
Doh.
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Should I rotate the plants every day using a window?
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On Mon, 29 Mar 2010 18:57:59 -0600, Eggs Zachtly

I'm in NYC. It is a bit late but we can still get frost for a few weeks so not terrible. I can put the tray by a south facing window - but I'll have to figure out how to keep the cats from knocking them over. Prime window seats facing the backyard are in high demand among the feline members of the household. I had figured that the "full spectrum" fluorescent tubes would be ok but I'll see what I can work out. That would also put it over a radiator which might be a bad thing but maybe not? Hopefully it will shut off soon or I really will need to eat the garden.
The onion seeds came free with the order of tomato seeds - RED BURGUNDY, scroll down:
http://www.tomatobob.com/Vegetable-Seeds.htm
I have no idea how to deal with them so I put a few seeds into each hole in the starting material and I'll see what comes up. I've tried onions in the past and not done too well - let's just say that I'm better with most things than I am with gardening. Probably why I keep trying.
When I emailed Tomato Bob about my soil conditions, the reply was to use lots of peat moss. I have so much clay in the soil that, using a blow torch, I could make the world's biggest ashtray. I guess I should take sample of the soil to the local gardening center. I just called them and they charge a few dollars so I'll bring it in this weekend.
I know with tomatos that I'm supposed to try to water from the bottom so last year I used a soaker hose. The leaves still start turning yellow and brown at the botton and work its way up the plant.
I didn't know that peas and spinach were cool weather. I never tried spinach before but that would explain my lack of success with peas.
Thanks for the help.
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