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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Buying & Preparing Starting Mix for Starting Vegetable Seeds: Seed Cell Flats & Trays and Method for Watering Your Vegetable Seed Starts

1. Buying & Preparing Starting Mix for Starting Vegetable Seeds

2. Seed Cell Flats & Trays 
(What They Are and How to Use Them)

3. Method for Watering Your Vegetable Seed Starts 
(Bottom Water!)

Starting with this video, I will be making videos that cover every step of vegetable gardening for 2015. I am in Maryland Zone 7, so we are entering winter. Come January 2015, I will be starting a lot of seeds indoors. If you want to join my new YouTube channel, it will take you along every step of the way from starting seeds indoors through planting, feeding, fighting diseases, pruning and harvesting. It will be a one stop vegetable gardening channel. Here is a link to my new channel: The Rusted Garden

You can save yourself a lot of money by starting your own plants indoors. This is true for vegetables, herbs and flowers. The process is pretty simple once you know how. I recommend you buy seed starting mix. Don't spend a lot of money. Most mixes are pretty much the same.

They are mostly made of peat moss. They might have a little lime tossed in it to keep the pH neutral. It may have some vermiculite or perlite added into the mix. That is usually the white specks you see in it. You may come across starting mix that has fertilizer in it. You don't really need that to start. Don't pay extra for it. Just a basic starting mix is all you need.

Seed staring mix is light, sterile and it holds water really well. That is what you want to germinate seeds and grow vegetable transplants.

You will needs a tray or flat and seed starting cells. You can find them online or buy them at many stores that sell garden supplies. I recommend you bottom water. It will save you time, create less splash and concerns for disease and fungus. You water your seed starts when the seed starting mix dries on the top. This video will explain all three things very well. Enjoy!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Get Ready for Planting Peas in Late Winter/ Early Spring: Indoors, Ground and Containers!

Get Ready for Planting Peas in Late Winter/ Early Spring: 
Indoors, Ground and Containers!

Peas are one of the best garden vegetables to grow. They are true cool weather vegetables. Many varieties can actually take a frost and freeze and you can grow them twice in your garden, in many areas. They are truly early spring and late summer crops. And nothing beats a fresh picked pea for sweetness. Did I mention you can also eat the leaves and make salad crops from them? Oh and they will self pollinate if you want to give them a shot indoors. The indoor temperatures might be tricky but they don't need insects for pollination

Pea Leaves in Salads

I once believed you needed to start peas in the ground because they didn't transplant well. That is a myth. You can start them in seed cells. Just transplant them to outdoor containers or the ground fairly quickly once they break the surface of the cell, get an inch tall and get acclimated to the outdoors. You just don't want their roots out growing the cells. You might do this in the early spring to speed up germination and to have more successful germination. Cold ground and rain can lead to seeds succumbing to molds and fungus in the earth beds.

Seed Starting Peas Indoors

Growing Peas from Transplants: It Works!

Transplant peas work. I actually moved my seeds started in cells to cups and started some seeds directly in cups. You might notice the roots got a bit over grown in the video. You want to get them in 5 gallon containers or the ground before the roots start circling in the bottom of the cups. They are a bit forgiving so you don't have to be perfect. It works!

I found growing late winter/early spring peas works well in containers. I also put them in the ground. A 5 gallon bucket can hold 3,4,5,6,7 or 8 pea plants. It really depends on the variety and on your preference. Container soil should be loose and fresh. You don't need to overdue fertilizing as peas can fix their own nitrogen but a little added phosphorous and potassium won't hurt. The nitrogen number doesn't have to be high. Just plant them about 1 inch deep and drop in a tomato cage for a trellis. You can even make a trellis from poles.

Planting Peas in Containers

The idea is figuring out how many pods you can get per container based on the characteristics of that pea variety. For example, say your variety will give you 100 pods if grown as a single plant in a 5 gallon container. If you grow 2 plants, in the same container, they compete a bit for moisture and resources and each plant only gives 90 pods. The total of 180 pods, per container, is more than 1 plant would have given you. If you put in 5 plants you might get smaller plants and only 60 pods per plant but that is 300 pods per container. Just something to keep in mind.

Harvesting Container Peas and Plant Numbers

There are basically 3 types of peas you see in your local stores. They are sugar pod, snap or sugar snap and standard peas. Or how I like to define them... flat edible pods with tiny peas for stir-fry or salads, edible pods with full size peas and peas that have to be shelled. All varieties can be enjoyed fresh from the vine. You have not tasted a pea until you have grown them yourself. The sugar content is amazing.

An Attempt to Explain 3 Types of Peas

Peas don't need a lot of fertilizing. I like giving my container plants a 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer. Peas will fix their own nitrogen if they share the soil with rhizobium bacteria. The problem with container soil it is often void of good micro-organisms so you really need to feed them or inoculate them with rhizobium bacteria. As I mentioned your peas need to be trellised up a cage or sticks and string. They have hollow stems and are very fragile. They will break, if left dangling over the edge of a container.

What Does Inoculating Peas Mean

Trellising and Fertilizing Container Peas

The key to growing first crop peas in the ground is about 45 degree nights and minimal rain. They love the cool weather but germinate best in 45+ degree weather with soil that is not overly saturated. That can be tough in some gardens come late winter. You could plant acclimated transplants.

I plant seeds 1 inch deep and 2, 3 or 4 inches apart for the same reasons I mention when planting container peas. You can also plant them 1 inch apart if you think you will have germination issues. It is always better to plant more and thin versus waiting.and only getting a few seeds that germinate.

The most important thing is to protect them from is rabbits. I use a chicken wire cage. And the second most important thing, because you won't have them if the rabbits get them... is a trellis. They need to grow upright. There are many ways to make a trellis.

And remember... even puppies like peas.

A Simple Ground Pea Trellis

Saturday, February 8, 2014

When to First Fertilize Your Tomato Seedlings: Use 1/2 Strength Liquid Fertilizer!

When to First Fertilize Your Tomato Seedlings:
 Use 1/2 Strength Liquid Fertilizer!

Ask 1000 gardeners and you will get 1000 answers with a twist, bend or tweak. Yet, they will all have a general common theme. That is very true with starting seeds, especially tomatoes and even more so with how and when to fertilize them. This is my twist, bend and tweak on the topic. I have grown them for well over 10 years and have been successful. My way is not the only way. It is just one way. And I often vary fertilizers depending on my budget, sales and available resources.

The first thing is to use 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer. You do not need full strength. Some people even use a quarter strength. Your plants do not get rain and they are in small starting mix cells. You don't want to over do it and concentrate fertilizer in the starting mix and damage the plants. More fertilizer is not a better thing. Less at each watering, every other watering or every 10 days is much better.

The video shows you the general size range when I start my first 1/2 strength liquid fertilizing. Factors that come into play, and that is why I give you a range, are fertilizer in the starting mixes and how your plants look.

You want to have all N-P-K (no 0's) represented or nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. You can use organic or inorganic fertilizer to your choice but remember the plants can't tell the difference. I like using inorganic products indoors, for honestly, they have a better ratio of NPK (if you look around) and other nutrients and they don't smell.

I don't look for an exact ratio though I think a 3-6-3 is would be optimal for transplants. It is not easy to find ratios so go with what is available in your area and just make sure it is 1/2 strength. I would go with a higher P or phosphorous number, if you can find it, as root development is really important.

Good Luck in Your Garden

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