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seeds Starting Seeds - how I do it

AlabamaJack

Extreme Member
I wrote a this few years ago as information on how to start seeds...(actually so I could remember)
 
How To Start Pepper Seeds
 



First off I do NOT know all there is to know about growing peppers, nor would I ever claim to.  I learn new things and methods each year.  I wanted to share with you how I do things which has worked out well for me.  I try and improve my process each year, but most times, I have to relearn what I learned last year (if that makes sense)
 
I am hoping ...that this will help the new pepper grower learn the process of seed starting and have written this from my personal experience...it's pretty straight forward and I know everyone does it their way but this way works best for me and usually ends up producing 90 + % germination rates...

 
Step by step process.
 
1.  Cleanliness - Sanitize all tools/work areas/germination areas/trays before starting...I use a very strong solution of the harshest chemical my nose can stand while cleaning my work areas....wash hands very often to keep cleanliness at its best...remember cleanliness is the most important thing...think of your seeds/seedlings as if they were babies...they need care...
 
2. Seed Starting Medium - When deciding what media to start your seeds in, remember this...you want a light weight medium without large "chunks" in it...water retention of the media is also of utmost important...I use Hoffman's seed starting mix.  A lot of growers use peat pucks and that is fine but they dry out too quickly and are the cause many seedling deaths...
 
3.  Pre-Soaking your Starting Medium - Soak your starting medium overnight in warm water to completely wet it before planting your seeds.
 
4.  Planting Seeds - Poke a hole in the soaked media using the blunt end of a sharpie about 1/2" deep.   Planting shallower will result in more "helmets" on your seeds.  Place the seeds in the holes and gently cover them up...a little pressure won't hurt but you don't want to "pack" the medium you are planting in.
 
5.  Moisture - You want your starting medium damp, not wet...if at any time after the germination process starts, your medium dries out, your seeds are dead...any dry period will kill the embryo...Moist, not wet is very important to remember.
 
6.  Germination Temperature - the temperature at which you germinate your seeds is of utmost importance - 80-86F is optimum.  If you get lower than that, the seeds will still germinate (down to 60F probably) but will take forever.  If you get higher than that, they germination percent also decreases and when you hit 95F or above for an extended period, can you say "zero"?  Constant temperature is a key here IMO
 
7.  Ambient Temperature -  While not as important as germination temperature, ambient temperature of your grow area is important also...IMO 80F is about a perfect temperature to grow pepper seedlings.  
 
8.  Light - Light is not needed for pepper seed germination but once the seeds have "hooked", pour the light to them...as much as you can...mine get 3K lumens/ft2
 
9.  Stem Exercise - A fan blowing on the seedlings several times a day is required for stem health...you want to "exercise" the stems several times a day....this stretches the cell walls thus thickening and strengthening them...think of standing on one leg with a pretty good wind blowing on you for 30 minutes a day...that leg would get muscular...I run the fan on as high as the plants can stand it without breaking them down...
 
9.   Fertilize - to fertilize or not to fertilize...up to ya...some people say no, some people say yes...I fertilize with 1/2 strength from the time the seeds hit the soil until first transplant then use full strength...that is my choice and works well for me....I use Botanicare products like Liquid Karma &  ProGrow.
 
10.  Watering - I have found the best way to know when you need to water is through experience...if the seedlings wilt, definitely time for water, however, if you will take a dry container, feel the weight of it, then take a soaked container and feel the weight of it, you will know when your plants need water...IMO this works better than moisture gauges or being on a set watering schedule...over watering will make your plants die over time...
 
11.  Transplant time - if using seed starting trays, transplant only when the roots start growing out of the bottom...remember, the health of your root ball determines the health of your plant.  Transplanting several times to increasingly larger containers improves the health of the plant by making a more compact root ball, not root bound, just a good network of nice hairy roots.  Something like this works really well...seed starting tray (3 weeks) to 3" square containers (3-4 weeks), to 6" containers (3-5 weeks) , to 2-3 gallon (2 months) to 5 gallon etc...however, because I grow so many plants, I only transplant three times...from seed starting tray to 3" container to 6" container to 5 gallon container....then during the season, I may transplant to 10 gallon containers...
 
enjoy growing...for those not growing in containers, go to ground or raised bed after 6" container....
 
If I have left anything out or if anyone simply disagrees with this method, please say so...I probably won't change but the process can be tweaked to fit your style of growing.... 
 

AlabamaJack

Extreme Member
oh, and by the way....
 
once I start my seeds, I never visit any place that has plants for sale simply because I don't want to be the transportation vector of any garden pest to my grow
 

midwestchilehead

Extreme Member
Good idea. I brought something into my greenhouse last year infected with scale, and it greatly reduced production of everything I had in there. I will stick to my own stock from now on,
 
AlabamaJack said:
oh, and by the way....
 
once I start my seeds, I never visit any place that has plants for sale simply because I don't want to be the transportation vector of any garden pest to my grow
 
 
I agree with everything except the bit about using harsh chemicals. Human cells react negatively to harsh chemicals.... so its obvious that plants cells would too! Keep tools clean but definitely dont use chemicals.
 

AlabamaJack

Extreme Member
IdahoPepper said:
Thanks for putting this together. How many hours of lighting do you give your early sprouts?
 
24/7 the first month then I back off to 16/8....just my choice...
 
DiddleDatil said:
I agree with everything except the bit about using harsh chemicals. Human cells react negatively to harsh chemicals.... so its obvious that plants cells would too! Keep tools clean but definitely dont use chemicals.
 
"Sanitize all tools/work areas/germination areas/trays before starting"... ​I thought it would be pretty evident I didn't use the chemicals once I start my seeds...and I use nitrile gloves during my cleaning.  After the initial cleaning, I keep what tools I use in a 10% bleach solution and rinse them thoroughly before use
 
"I probably won't change but the process can be tweaked to fit your style of growing.... ​"
 
AJ 
 
Clean all your tools and hands first.
 
Take a piece of paper towel and a ziplock plastic bag
 
IMG_8543 by Willard Bridgham, on Flickr
 
 
Spread seeds  on the paper towel and insert it in the baggie
 
 
IMG_8544 by Willard Bridgham, on Flickr
 
 
 
Wet the paper towel....wet, not soppy and close the plastic bag
 
 
IMG_8545 by Willard Bridgham, on Flickr
 
 
Put the plastic bag in a place that is 85F (measure, don't guess) and wait
 
 
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