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awomanscorned's avatar

Gardening question about seeds, details inside.

Asked by awomanscorned (11261points) April 4th, 2011 from iPhone

Hello lovelies. I’m starting a garden, I bought carrot, watermelon, sunflower, tomatoes, squash, and cucumber seeds. Is it better to just plant them normally, or allow them to germinate in a baggie with a damp paper towel and then plant the sprouts?

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23 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

It all varies with your planting zone and date of usual last frost. My sister, the master gardener, lives here in zone 4 and starts her vegetables inside in small flats and transplants.

She protects her tomatoes with something called wall of water.

Read the suggested starting tips on the back of your seed packs or take the time to learn about planting times from a good gardening site.

Apparently you can start sweet peas just after St. Patrick’s day, according to the myths.

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jaytkay's avatar

I asked Fluther last May if I could simply put my seeds outside outside in a container.

The consensus was no. Start them indoors to protect from frost (I am in Chicago). If I really wanted to put them outside, a cloche (little green house) was recommended and it could be as simple as half of a 2-litre soda bottle.

It was also pointed out that starting indoors has the extra benefit of letting you choose the strongest seedlings for transplant.

In May I had these little seedlings in an egg carton.

By August my little tomatoes looked like this

gailcalled's avatar

I would never sprout them unless you want to eat sprouts (hard to do with watermelons, squash and tomatoes.

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gailcalled's avatar

@jaytkay: I remember the discussion about the egg cartons as perfect started kits. Congratulations on the beautiful crop.

Another useful planter is the bottom of a ½ gallon milk or soft-drink plastic container. You can control the depth and have to remember only to poke some drainage holes in them.

@Noelleptc; Not a strong enough root system. That’s why planting the seeds in a starter medium or sterile potting soil makes more sense.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

We have some weird spring weather where I live, so I have learned not to plant anything earlier than June 1st. I plant stuff straight into the ground. I buy little tomato plants from the store, and I would buy pepper plants that way, too. Everything you mentioned can go straight into the vegetable garden as seeds, except the tomatoes. I would start them in a pot in the house. I have planted tomatoes early and used the “wall of water.” It almost smothered them to death. I won’t ever use those again.

bingo's avatar

It really depends where you live. As a general rule, the carrots, squash, and cucumbers can probably be planted directly in the ground after the frost date for your area. It’s probably best to get your tomatoes started inside now. Watermelon needs a long growing season, so if you’re in a colder area you’d probably be wise to start them early as well.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a good tool to determine the best times for planting in your area.

Coloma's avatar

I always start my plants in peat pots and then pick the biggest, strongest, healthiest seedlings to plant.

Plant about 6–10 of each depending on how many you have space for and then choose the most robust specimans for planting.

Oooh, Watermelon, can’t wait for watermelon season again!

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WestRiverrat's avatar

Plant the sunflowers and carrots where you want them to grow. Start the tomatoes inside. The squash and the cucumbers you can do eiher way.

Find out what the normal growing season is for your area and look at the seed packet. There should be a maturity date, start them inside if they will grow beyond your expected killing frost. Add 5–10 days for the seeds to germinate, more if the ground still has to warm up.

faye's avatar

Where are you, @noelleptc? and how cold does it get at night? If it doesn’t go below freezing and the ground is warm a few inches down, you can plant directly where you want them. I live where it could go below freezing easily in June, so I start a lot of things inside.

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faye's avatar

Cost too much to stalk you! Go ahead and plant!

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BarnacleBill's avatar

Sunflowers can be planted outside if you’re sure frost is past. Take a paper cup and poke out the bottom and put it over where the seed is to stop birds from getting the sunflower seed before it germinates. Along a fenceline is good for sunflowers.

Watermelon, squash and cucumbers are all viney plants, and will need to be planted on mounds, with hay. Those should go into the ground. They need room to spread out.

I would start the tomatoes inside, either in an egg carton, or you can get these little peat pellet things that expand in water to start seeds in.

I have had good luck with carrots planted in 10 gallon plastic storage bins, with drainage holes drilled in the bottom. They like rich dirt, and containing them in a big container seems to work. You can also use something like a horse feed bucket to plant in. I had some from Walmart that we used to put children’s toys in.

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gailcalled's avatar

And I have had several, happy accidentals growing, being fruitful and multiplying in my compost pile.

Many tomato plants and several canteloupes; they sprouted from the rotten fruit with no tender, loving care of any kind.

In the nastiest part of winter, I have often simply heaved my compost from a bowl out the back door into one of the beds. Shade in the afternoons; I still got several tomato vines that bore fruit.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@noelleptc, my daughter did square foot gardening beds last year, and she had an unbelievable amount of tomatoes! 6 plants, and she was picking them into November. The recommended soil mixture was an amazing growing medium.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@noelleptc leave the dirt about 1–2” below the top of your forms. This will allow the seed bed to warm up a little quicker in the spring so you can plant earlier. It will also help in the fall if there is an early frost.

gailcalled's avatar

@noelleptc: This is a nice little article (below all the ads) for a child’s garden in the Atlanta area.

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