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
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
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.
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.
Michael Missouri - Master Gardener Zone 5A
"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
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
Good luck with the tomatoes, etc.!
Another Zone 5 denizen
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.
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