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Banadoura April 23, 2017 03:52 PM

The 2017 Chronicles of a Newbie Gardener
The 2016 growing season was pretty disappointing, bought some mislabelled plants that turned out to be a late variety poor in taste.

Looking back for what went wrong, I stumbled upon this forum and got bitten with tomato gardening fever last December. My next season had to start from seed so I purchased a bunch and thanks to the generosity of several board members, I was able to add some unique varieties.

I hope this thread will prove helpful to others as I highlight the challenges met.

I started my first wave after buying the MG seed starter mix:

Took over part of my girls' play room placing a table next to the window.
Temperature was around 19c (66f) on seeding.
No heatmat.
Used 4 inch pots and two 3x3 trays to start the following on April 1st:

Cosmonaut Volkov (CV)
Indian Stripe PL (ISPL)
Jaune Flamme (JF)
Black Cherry (BC)
Paul Robeson (PR)
Rebel Yell (RY)
Cherokee Lime (CL)
Cherokee Purple (CP)

JF was the first to sprout on Apr-7 and ended up with 100% germination rate.
CV was the last to sprout at 60% rate with some seeds taking 14 days to show up!

I noticed in subsequent plantings an improvement in CV as I did the following:
Avg room temp increased to 22-23C (72F) and spent more time keeping the surface wet by spraying water every day until germination.

Now I see why covering seedlings and using a heatmat makes a difference.:twisted:

Multiple subsequent waves of plantings saw 100% germination rates for LLK (Lindey's Little Krim), Taxi, RY, BC, Rosella Pruple(RP), Stupice & ISPL.

Cherokee Purple remains at 33% germination and GGWT (girl girl's wierd thing) was the worst performer at 0% (3 seeds sown in total).

The last to be sown was MSE (Matsu-Express) on April 21.

This is what the little plants looked like in their first week:

The window seating proved insufficient in terms of light, hence the legginess, so what to do?

I bought a T5 light for 50 bucks (CAD) and installed it on unused shelf, confiscated a couple of toy boxes from my girls as base and voila:

I think the distance from the light was not perfect, so I had to add another box of toys to shrink that distance to 4 inch between plants and light:

Much better now!

Initially, one of my Taxi seedlings had a helmet on, tried using a small pincer to remove it and ended up decapitating the plant:?!?:

Then I read on this board that you have to wet (using your spit) the helmet to loosen it up. The advice was right in time as most of the new batch of Cosmonaut Volkhovs were equipped with that helmet, I guess they take their name seriously!:lol:

The objective is to have these survive until the end of May when I can start transplanting into the garden some 20-22 plants.

Current dilemmas:
1- Can I keep them in their seed starter mix until transplant? Or should I re-pot into a potting mix instead of seed starting mix? (keeping same 4inch pots)

2- I will have to feed them soon, can I use my tomato tone to make liquid fertiliser or should I buy fertiliser dedicated for liquid feeding ?

The survival of these plants is of paramount importance as family, friends and coworkers have been promised delicious tomatoes this summer and in some cases plants for their garden! (they've had to endure listening to my tomato talk for months now)

Last but not least, a very special thanks goes to Cole Robbie, BigVanVader, LindyAdele and Marsha for making a lot of these plants possible!:yes:

Spartanburg123 April 23, 2017 09:10 PM

I had the same issues with helmet head this spring- I lost three plants to decapitation! I learned about the spit trick from Carolyn on here too- and it works like a charm!

Someone else suggested that next year, I plant the seeds a little deeper. The dirt is supposed to provide frictional force for the seed helmet to pop off during emergence. I think I went a little too shallow!:D

dmforcier April 24, 2017 11:29 AM

1) I tried the MG Seed Starter Mix. It's okay, but I don't see a compelling reason to use it instead of the Potting Mix. (And it's more expensive, IIRC.) You can leave the seedlings in it until they need to be moved into the ground.

2) I wouldn't fertilize yet at least until you see true leaves. (Not familiar with Tomato Tone; I use MG All Purpose (the blue stuff) at 24-8-16 for peppers, and coincidentally for tomatoes. But there is also a less Nitrogen heavy version which claims to be more oriented toward veggies like toms.) Some people say to use 1/4 strength fert after leaves develop, but there are varied opinions on the matter. Since the Starter Mix already has some ferts, not need to do anything yet.

Don't ditch the decapitated plant. I won't tell you the full story of Immortal Beloved, but suffice it to say that it started life without cotyledons - just a stem - and after passing through many travails became one of my biggest and best Ghost peppers.

Banadoura April 24, 2017 02:17 PM

@Spartan, they have a point because I deliberately went shallow in my planting. The germination was faster but alas I now have to deal with a few helmet heads! (mostly CV plants)

@dmforcier the MG mix was all I could find for seed starting in the shop I was at. Thanks for confirming I can leave them in it for the next 4 weeks.

Several plants from the April 1st batch now have their first set of leaves, still small though so I'll wait a few more weeks.

The decap plant is still in the soil, I didn't remove it yet so it still has chance I guess :lol:

Banadoura April 25, 2017 10:45 PM

GGWT Germination
So exactly 18 days after planting, one of the three GGWT seeds popped up today!!!
Maybe the other two will end up showing up after all.....

javafxnoob April 26, 2017 03:32 AM

Wonderful thread. Subscribed and looking forward to see Chronicle update.

Good luck from another newbie gardener. :D

Banadoura April 26, 2017 10:23 PM

Thank you Java, all the best to you as well ;)

MissS April 27, 2017 04:25 AM

This is a great thread for folks to follow. I love the "Newbie" threads because you all are learning so very much and comment on things that many seasoned folks just assume that everyone knows.

Yes, you can leave them in the seed starter until they are ready to be planted up.

You can start to feed them after they get their first true leaf. Some people do, some don't. Some start at 1/4 strength some full. I suggest that you start with something "blue" and then go organic once they are planted out in the garden. I just have less issues with mold and damping off this way.

Good Luck!

Banadoura April 27, 2017 12:41 PM

@MissS thanks for contributing to the thread. A store has soluble fertilizer on special this week, I don't know if it's blue stuff or not. I'll buy me a pack and share the picture over the weekend :)

Banadoura April 27, 2017 12:44 PM

Update April-27
Since I raised the plants closer to the light, I noticed my Paul Robeson plant had something like "sun burn" on its leaves.

So I removed that extra toy box I had added which lowers the plants by two inches from the light. I think we're good now as they are > 4 inches away from it. Will probably lower another 2 inches in a week or two once they grow longer.

I think this one will survive as another set of true leaves is in the making!

Banadoura April 27, 2017 12:47 PM

On Helmet Heads
The Spit trick has been working nicely with the helmet heads :yes:

You can see how the Cosmonaut Volkhov extricated itself successfully from its helmet.

Should I transplant that little fellow in a pot of its own? I now have 4 plants in this 4 inch pot! What do you think?

Banadoura April 27, 2017 12:49 PM

A Goner?
This little ISPL Fellow looks nothing like its peers

Would you consider this one a goner? I'd love to re-use the pot if it stands no chance of making it. The leaves simply crumpled on itself, this was a replant from another pot.:bummer:

MissS April 27, 2017 02:50 PM

All 4 of your Cosmonaut Volkhov will need to have their own pots shortly. Since you are a newbie, you must decide if you want to wait a little longer for those first leaves to fully develop which will give you a stronger plant to work with or to try separating them now. When you do decide to do it, you can try shaking off most of the soil and then gently try to pull them apart or you can rinse the soil off in a container of water and then gently separate them.

The ISPL might recover, but it will most likely never be a strong plant if it does and it will take a long time. I would go ahead and dispose both of the plant and the soil if it were me. Clean the container well with a mild bleach solution before using it again.

Good Luck!

Cole_Robbie April 27, 2017 10:21 PM

I hope you enjoy the Mat-Su Express

Banadoura April 28, 2017 12:56 PM

@MissS Thanks so much for the tips! I will play it safe and allow the plants to get a little bit stronger.

Should I repot in the same seed starting mix or can I simply switch to potting mix?

@Cole_Robbie Thank you again sir!

Germination Update

5 out of 6 MSE (planted on April 21) are out between last night and this morning!

That is an excellent rate/time and the 6th will probably show up soon.

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