2017 Grow Season – Seed Starting Indoors

Seed Starting Indoors

Hello and thanks for checking out this update for the 2017 season! This week I began seed starting indoors again. It is the second round of attempting to get seeds going, which isn’t a super easy task. If you read last week’s post you saw that I had a bad problem with damping off in my first seed tray. The next few pictures show how devastating the problem was.

seed starting indoors
Kale and Collard continue to grow, regardless of weak stems from damping off

Despite the fungal problem nearly destroying that entire seed tray, there have been a few survivors. Unfortunately, the Hatch Green Chili didn’t make it. Some of the Kale, Collards, and Spinach seem to be okay though, even with weak stems. We’re a few days into April now and the weather is wet but generally above freezing.

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One Spinach seems to be okay

For now, I have moved the first tray outdoors to be exposed to the real environment. The process is called hardening off and over the next week, I’ll be moving this tray in and out until the seedlings appear that they can handle full exposure. This should be good practice for the second round of seedlings as well.

Watch!

This is a video with much more detail about this week’s post if you have about 7 minutes to watch. Otherwise, the rest should be a quick read.

Organic Fungicide

Last week we discussed some organic and preventative methods for preventing/controlling fungus. Not much was said about buying something from the store, but there are organic fungicide sprays you can buy. I found this in the garage the other day and as you can see, it is considered organic.

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Completely forgot I had this

Last season I had a bad problem with Downy Mildew affecting our cucumbers. This seemed to help a little but eventually, the plants succumbed to the disease. There’s a reason we didn’t talk about this last week. Just one bottle cost almost $9. But I suppose if it’s something you need it’s nice to know it’s available.

Sanitizing the Seed Trays

As I mentioned last week, you should try to keep everything as sterile as possible when seed starting indoors. Initially, I didn’t do that and that’s very likely the reason damping off became a problem. So this time I hand washed both seed trays with antibacterial dish soap. This was to remove as much organic material as possible.

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Residual organic material

Even after washing, there were still some leftovers from last year. Certainly this was on the first tray I started. This may even be dormant fungus for all I know. So the next step was to sanitize in a bleach solution.

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Seed trays soaking in bleach solution

The solution I made with 1/10 bleach and warm water. They soaked about 1/2 hour in total and were moved to different positions after the first 15 minutes. This will hopefully prevent any new problems with damping off or mold.

Transferring Sprouts

Not sure why I didn’t take pics of the sprouts on paper towels, but you can see them in the video. Seed starting indoors can be done via many different methods. Germinating seeds on moist paper towels is a great way to make sure you are starting out with strong sprouts.

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Sprouts transferred into moist seed starting soil

One word of warning, however; many of the sprouts’ tap roots had gone through the paper towel. This made it difficult to transfer them to the tray pods because the roots kept breaking. Not all of the roots broke entirely, sometimes just some of the tap root. Hopefully this won’t be a huge problem.

New Setup!

My old grow light setup was less than optimal. The lights I was using were basically flood lights. They could be great for certain applications. But most seedlings like the lights to be only a few inches above them. That was impossible because the floodlights had to be moved back far enough for the light to be on the entire tray.

seed starting indoors
Old Setup

The new lights were bought from Home Depot. They should be perfect for seed starting indoors as I can hang them directly over the seedlings and adjust them as needed. If you are looking into buying grow lights, these are some things you should keep in mind.

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New Setup

As you can see this rig is still kind of basic. These lights also have 3 prong plugs so my current timer can’t be used. Until I get a new one I will be turning them on and off manually. But that’s not so bad because then I can check their progress every 12 hours.

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Final Setup

In case you’re wondering, yes that is cinnamon on top of the trays. I’m taking every preventative step possible to make sure there aren’t any more fungal problems. Hopefully, this setup will yield a full garden full of glorious vegetables in about a month.

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