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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Over 25 Questions Answered on Starting Herbs, Flowers and Vegetables Indoors Under Grow-lights: Seed Starting Questions

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25 Questions Answered on Starting Seed Indoors Under Grow-Lights: The Rusted Garden

How high should my grow-light be place over the trays?
You should set the grow-lights about 2 - 4 inches above the seed starting trays.

When is light the most important to my seed starts?
The first 5 to 7 days from germination are the most important time. Intense light is needed to prevent the seedling from getting thin and 'leggy".

What kind of ratings should my grow-lights have?
Minimum ratings are 2100 lumens for light intensity and 5000K for light color. Great numbers are 2750 lumens or higher and 6500K.

25 Questions Answered on Starting Seed Indoors Under Grow-Lights: The Rusted Garden

How long should I keep the grow-light?
At germination and for first week, the light should be left on 16 hours and off 8 hours. After that you can start decreasing the lights to 14 hours and then 12 hours over a few weeks.

Why do my seedlings get tall and ‘leggy’?
Bottom line is the light is not intense enough and they are stretching to get closer too it.

When should I turn my lights on? Should I have them on before germination?
I turn them on before germination as you want to catch the germinating seedlings immediately with intense light. After planting seeds, I turn my grow light on 3 days later. Nothing really germinates in 3 days.

Can I use a window? Do I need grow-lights?
You really do need a grow light as 99/100 south facing windows don't provide enough light for seedlings.

This is the video that goes over all these questions in more detail. Subscribe to my channel, I will be making real-time garden videos all through 2019.

Do I need direct or indirect sun in a window? 
Sun coming in a window must always be direct. That means the sun can always be seen by your seedlings. Light from the sun directly hits your seed starts.

What is seed flat and seed cell? (Different Shapes & Sizes)
Check the video out for this one. You just have to see them.

Do I need to start my transplants in small cells or can I use large cups?
It is all based on how much room you have to grow indoors and the number of plants you want to start. You can start in large containers or forgo potting them up from the smaller seed cells if that is what you prefer.

Do I need to use seed starting mix? Should I sterilize my starting mix?
I always recommend sterilizing your starting mix and using a seed starting mix. I find it really helps with germination and reduces problems.

Does sterilizing seed starting mix kill of the soil life?
It would, if starting mix had soil life. Seed starting mix doesn't have anything of value for your plants. It is just a seed starting medium. Sterilize it and add what you wish afterwords. 

25 Questions Answered on Starting Seed Indoors Under Grow-Lights: The Rusted Garden

Can I use outdoor soil to start my seeds indoors?
You can but this risk of bringing in insects, insects eggs, fungus and disease is quite high. There is not Nature indoors to combat problems.

Can I use dry seed starting mix to start my seeds or should I pre-moisten the mix?
Always pre-moisten your seed starting mixes. They actually float and absorb water slowly if you don't prepare the growing cells or cups with pre-moistened mix.

How do I set up my seed starting cells or containers for planting?
Check the video out for this one.

How often do I water? When do I water?
Check out the video for this one.

Should I let the top of my seed starting mix dry between watering?
It is a good idea to let the tops of the growing cells or cups dry. The video really explains this through examples.

Did fungus gnats come because I didn’t let the top of the seed starting mix dry?
Nope. Letting the tops dry helps reduce problems but it is not the cause. Fungus gnats lay eggs at the bottom of your starting cells too.

How do I water my transplants in the most efficient way?
Bottom watering in the tray is the most efficient way and the video describes the process.

25 Questions Answered on Starting Seed Indoors Under Grow-Lights: The Rusted Garden

Can I leave water in the bottom of the trays all the time?
You can let it sit for a couple hours while the seed starting mix absorbs it. Really after 30 minutes the mix soaks up all the water it can hold. Dump out the excess water or you can get root rot.

How many grow-lights do I need?
Again the video explains this thoroughly.

Should I use a timer on my grow-lights?
Absolutely 100%

Do I need to put fertilizer in the seed starting mix to start? What kind of fertilizer should I use indoors?
You don't have too. If you are you should use water soluble fertilizers at 1/4 strength or less. The video will explains why.

When should I feed my transplants? How much fertilizer do I use?
Water soluble fertilizer of your choice at 1/4 or less recommend strength. You can feed your plants about 1-2 weeks after germination. The video explains why.

What is the best temperature to start seeds indoors?
About 70 degrees F suits most seeds, if not all of them.

25 Questions Answered on Starting Seed Indoors Under Grow-Lights: The Rusted Garden

Do I need to use a seed starting heat mat? How long do I keep using it?

You don't if your growing area sits around 70 degrees F. Heat mats do speed up germination and can be shut off a couple days after germination if you area stays above 65 degrees F.

Should I label my seed starts? What is the best way to label me flats?

Unless you have a photographic memory... yes. The video describes a couple options.

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