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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it's early for planting but I've been getting set up for seedlings. This means I have to provide soil, light, and heat since it's subzero outside some days. This is my container garden space right now:

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Just so all of you get the picture :D: There will be no planting outside for a few months yet.

This is the area I'm planning for the raised beds. It's difficult to tell from the picture, but I'm planning two raised beds. One will be 4' x 4', the other will be 4' x 8'. The longer bed will be parallel to the garage (the building to the left in the picture) so I can put some chicken wire up the side for vine plants.

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This is my seedling setup. It's not a big deal, just a hanging fixture with a T5 grow light.

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This is the heat mat beneath the trays. I have some styrofoam there to keep the heat mat from melting anything beneath I hope.

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So begins my 2013 garden, what I hope will be an interesting and informative thread. I'll repost again in mid-Feb or so when I've got stuff planted. I'm planning to use peat pellets and regular potting soil in both the 3" pots that I have, plus I plan to try the plastic pudding cups that I've repurposed. Those are small, obviously for seedlings that don't need eight weeks before transplant. I've got a couple of the green growing trays that I can use to easily transport the seedlings for hardening outside. I decided to use the pots rather than plant directly into the trays for that reason, also because I'm concerned about drainage and roots growing together causing root damage during transplant.

It's been suggested by a neighbor that I wait until March 1 or so before planting the cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower because the plants get too leggy in the eight weeks between mid-Feb and mid-April. I'm still thinking about this. I've read that eight weeks is better than six for stronger seedlings. We'll see. Experiment and learn, right? I might try planting at both times to see which works better for me.

See you in a few weeks!
 

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I got the 4' model earlier this week, grow light, and have started my indoor plantings also. Although in Houston I expect to plant outside by 15 Feb. I just updated my 8 4 X 12' & 4 2 X 10' beds to the Mittleider watering system, pictures soon. The light is doing well so far.
 

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Living in western Oregon, I have row covers over the cole crop that did not mature before hard winter set in. The covers have kept the cole crop alive and healthy. I will uncover them in February when we get our 2 weeks of warm weather. That should be enough to get the plants growing again and producing cabbage, broccoli and coliflour. I am going to be starting my salad greens next week to plant into a row covered area by the middle of March. I miss fresh greens.

Will be watching your site for updates.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Well it's getting to be that time. I put my first seeds up to germinate this weekend. March 1st is coming fast! I've started with red & green cabbage and cauliflower; I'll put the broccoli in as soon as I get the seeds I had to buy because for the life of me I can't find the seeds I saved from last year's garden.

This is the method of germination that I'm using. It's pretty simple; put the seeds in a wet paper towel & cover with saran wrap. I've placed them in the trays with the heat mat on to keep them warm:

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This is a photo of the peat pellets. I've never used these before and I didn't know how quickly they'd expand. I feel certain they'll expand more if I add more water. For the present they're in a dish covered with saran wrap on the heat mat so they don't dry back out before the seeds germinate.

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Please enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
OK, the seeds have started to germinate so it's straight into the pots with them:

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The plant in the back is a bay laurel I bought for harvesting bay leaf. The pots in the left tray contain red cabbage, the tray on the right has five green cabbage in back. The seven in the front are cauliflower. I'll adjust as required. My garden plans involve twelve cauliflower, eight green cabbage, and four red cabbage. I'll put broccoli seeds in to germinate as soon as I get them; a total of twelve are planned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Also, the pots contain a peat pellet each with standard planting soil. The pellets didn't get any bigger than the last picture. I want these in bigger pots because they're going to be in there until mid-April or so and I don't want the roots to be too tightly squeezed. Incidentally, the peat pellets fit into the pudding cups pretty well. As indicated in the above post, I'm planning on using the pudding cups for stuff that doesn't need to be in the house for eight weeks before transplanting. Bell peppers and tomatoes come to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, the first set of seeds have all sprouted and the trays are full:

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Fully half of them have sprouted too:

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A local store had a sale on greenhouses, one 4 shelf unit for $22 USD. Since I can see a problem relating to space in my near future I went to pick one up. I believe the greenhouse will not only help me harden the plants for outdoors, it'll give me more space under the lights in six weeks when I need to fill up one of those trays with tomatoes, bell peppers, melons, and cucumber seedlings.

And I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything at the garden center this year! Right. I won't be buying any SEEDLINGS there. I couldn't pass up a really nice pruner either, plus a bunch of heirloom seeds that were on sale for varities I don't have. Jeez. We won't even go into that box of 250 rounds of .45 auto! :D:
 

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Well, the first set of seeds have all sprouted and the trays are full:

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Fully half of them have sprouted too:

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A local store had a sale on greenhouses, one 4 shelf unit for $22 USD. Since I can see a problem relating to space in my near future I went to pick one up. I believe the greenhouse will not only help me harden the plants for outdoors, it'll give me more space under the lights in six weeks when I need to fill up one of those trays with tomatoes, bell peppers, melons, and cucumber seedlings.

And I told myself I wasn't going to buy anything at the garden center this year! Right. I won't be buying any SEEDLINGS there. I couldn't pass up a really nice pruner either, plus a bunch of heirloom seeds that were on sale for varities I don't have. Jeez. We won't even go into that box of 250 rounds of .45 auto! :D:
I would love to see how you get those .45s to sprout.:D:
I plan on 2 4'x8' raised beds myself this year but everythings still frozen.
How do you harden off your plants? Last year I tried with tomatos and they all died without producing anything and I would like to start planting indoors now before the thaw.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My plan for hardening my plants is simply to put them outside for varying amounts of time and sun for a week or so before transplanting. The greenhouse I just purchased should be helpful here. It wouldn't hurt to have a fan blowing lightly while they're growing to encourage stem growth.

As for sprouting a .45, I would try by pulling the trigger. :D:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's two weeks into the seedling sprouting project. So far I've discovered that the single fixture grow light is OK for this purpose but I really could do better. I've ordered a four bulb fixture. The problem is that in order to light the trays as much as possible I have to suspend the light a bit farther above the seedlings than I would like. Naturally the seedlings are growing towards the light, and are becoming a bit leggy as a result.

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With a larger fixture I hope to bring the light closer to the plants so they don't feel the need to grow quite so UP.

This damage I attribute to cat curiosity:

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I've been trying to train him away from jumping up there but we all know the fallacy of herding cats.

I've replanted the damaged seedlings and the very few that either didn't sprout or sprouted but didn't quite make it for whatever reason. I'm also giving each seedling a gentle shake every day to enourage stem strength. I water them a couple of times per day with very small amounts given the size of the roots at this stage.

I've been pricing compost for the raised beds and dreaming about getting out there. There's still lots of snow on the ground and the day high temps are barely above freezing. Research now will make me ready then however. Bye for now!
 

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I have started several salad greens, leeks, chard, onions in the green house. They are growing slowly and are a little bit further along then your starts. I will be placing them out after April 1st.

Then I will get started on starting warm season veges like tomatoes, squash, peppers and cucumbers after transplanting the spring garden.

I do have some sweet potato slips comming in some time in April. I have a raised bed ready for them and I will cover it until the night warms up enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK now! I mentioned ordering a new four light rack since the single rack wasn't really quite what was needed here:

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Since this rack is a bit heavier than the other one, I used some of those black rubber ties with the S hooks to stabilize it. The string held it but not quite; when I'd move the rack to water etc the rack would fall, which crushed a couple of the seedlings. Those have since been replanted and the rack stabilized.

Here are seedlings at three weeks, coming along nicely:

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We're getting 2-4" of snow today so I'm not starting warm-loving plants like lettuce, tomato, cucumber etc just yet. My plan is to start those about early to mid-April. Hopefully I'll be able to have the greenhouse up by then also. For now all I can do is dream-and plan, and take care of the stuff indoors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well I'm about one month into this project and the seedlings for the most part are coming along nicely:

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I've had some problems with breakage and the trays are getting a bit crowded. Also of course some plants grow faster than others. I'd really love to get my greenhouse going & harden these plants for transplanting, but the daytime temps here are still in the 40's and nighttime is of course, colder. The extension agent recommended daytime temps in the 50-60 range and nights in the 40s before I plant outdoors. Evidently these seedlings have never read Bartholomew, or simply aren't into the Gregorian calendar. I'd love to be starting my tomatoes, lettuce, and onions but my trays are too full and if the cold-tolerant stuff won't take the current temps than obviously those will die too. So I'm just going to have to be flexible and let Mother Nature determine the schedule. Sigh. Patience has never been a family quality.

On the up shot, the snow has melted enough that I should be able to do the yard work necessary to get the raised beds in if not planted. Yay! There will be dirt under my fingernails soon and soon more work than I could wish for. The deck garden was fairly low maintenance last year. Somehow I don't think the raised beds will be quite that easy. :D:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well here it is, the 10th day of April and what do we get last night but snow! The wet & heavy stuff too, and enough of it to shovel. This is what my deck garden space looks like at the moment:

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As you can see, it's a tad nippy yet to be putting any plants out there, even in the greenhouse. I have done some rearrangement, including the greenhouse. I've put four containers under the spot where the Topsy Turvy's will hang. All told I'll have 15 containers on the deck this year. The VegTrug is still serving as a seedling table for the moment. I hope this melts quickly because the soil for the raised beds is going to be delivered tomorrow! The grass is greening & I can see things growing that I'd rather didn't. One good thing about the snow-I'm sure these things have been slowed down just a bit! Still, this cold weather is really on my nerves. So much for potatoes in the ground by Good Friday! That was a couple of Fridays ago and I would have lost them if I would have planted them. I've also got 10 bare root strawberries and 1 blackberry that want planting, but not in this! Oh well-at least any drought conditions will be well mitigated. The ground is getting a good soak from the slowly melting snow (the forecast high today is 37F) and it can only get warmer. I hope. :D:
 
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