starting vegetable transplants from seed

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by Feistywidget, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. Feistywidget

    Feistywidget New Seed

    Mar 9, 2010
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    Boyne City Michigan
    I have two options. The first is growing them indoors and hardening them off outdoors. My other option is to grow them in a greenhouse outdoors in early spring. I would do it in early spring if starting in a greenhouse (March or April).

    However I live in northern MI, so I'm wondering if my climate is too cold for the greenhouse. My gardening zone is 4b/5a.

    I tried to do this last year, and it really didn't work out; I basically had no clue what I was doing.

    I'm confused about how above the plants the light should be placed; I was given two suggestions,
    1-1/2' above the plants and 2" above the plants.

    I'm going to assume the light placed farther above the plants is for older seedlings, and the light placed closer is for younger seedlings that have just germinated? I just ask cause I know if it's too far above, leggy seedlings; too close and will burn the seedlings.

    Also how powerful should the light be with watts per bulb, and how many for one grow light? Should I use a grow light that has two lights, or just one? I ask this because most grow lights have two 40 watt bulbs.

    The previous grow light I've used had only one bulb, and was only 24 watts; is this not bright enough?

    I realize it depends on how many seedlings you're growing; for me it would be 1-2 regular flats.
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  3. marlingardener

    marlingardener Strong Ash

    Aug 23, 2010
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    Central Texas, zone 8
    I can only comment on what works for us. We use shop lights, suspended about 3" above the seedlings (the lights are raised as the seedlings grow, so the height of the light stays the same above the seedling) with daylight florescent tubes. The seedlings are started indoors, kept indoors with the lights on them, and then just about two weeks before moving them to the garden, we start to harden them off.
    In Michigan, without any greenhouse heat, I would think that the temps in March and April would not lead to germination, nor good growth. However, you would be a better judge of that.
    One thing that we have noticed, is that if we put a fan on "low" to blow gently on the seedlings about two weeks before they move to hardening off, the stems are much stronger and the seedlings transplant better.
    Sorry I can't be of more help :smt086
  4. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Apr 13, 2011
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    FW, I start my own seeds for a roadside stand. I usually give my seeds about two weeks to germinate and grow to a transplantable size. Everything is started with heat mats underneath them, otherwise germination is poor. After they are transplanted I grow them for another 6 weeks(usually) until they are big enough to set out to harden off. I also use shop lights with daylight bulbs in them. They hang directly over the seed flats. There is really not much danger of burning them with florescent bulbs. Maybe the different information on the lights could be for incandescent grow lights.

    In regards to your greenhouse, are you using a heated greenhouse or just a covered (no supplemental heat) frame that is only for protection from rain and wind? This will make a difference on how well your seedling do. Tomatoes and peppers and eggplants all like it warm. no nights close to 40 degrees for them. They also will not set fruit if the temps are less than 50*. If you can swing a high tunnel set up of some kind you will have a much better tomato crop than you currently get. We purchased a used greenhouse and set it up as a "growing tunnel" for an extended season and the results were much better than we expected. the plants stayed much healthier since they were never wet from rain or dew. All we had to do was run a watering line down the row when we planted and staked them and then fertilize them several times during the growing season.
  5. muddypaws

    muddypaws Seedling

    Sep 12, 2011
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    My vege plan is all written out, now all I have to do is follow it! I grow from seed in the window, and by the end of their stay inside, I have to add some fluors. lights above them. This year, some tomatoes, peppers and spag. squash indoors for a good head start. My son and daughter in law just moved within walking distance of me and she wants to grow some veges too, so I need plenty! Here's to a great vege growing season in 2012!
  6. rockhound

    rockhound In Flower

    Dec 28, 2011
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    veggie starts

    Most growers use florescent lights and hang them from chains so they can take up a link or two as needed to keep the light 2 inches or so above the plants at all times. Incandescent grow lights put out too much heat so they need to be real powerful and real high up. Flor is just so much easier. Use daylight bulbs.

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