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Green thumb turns out to be brown lol

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by Arthur on April 06, 2005 08:36 PM
Hi all. I am brand new to this site and to gardening, so I hope you can help me with my rookie mistakes! Okay, first, I have ambitious plans for my first vegetable garden. I started tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower indoors per seed pkt directions. They look weak and spindly, about 4" tall after 2 weeks, and they want to lay down. My cellar is unheated and I have no place to set up lights in the house, so all my seedlings have is indirect sunlight. Yesterday was beautiful, 50 degrees and sunny, so I took them outside for a couple hours. I thought they would stand up, but instead today it looks like I killed them. Anyone want to take me by the hand? There is still plenty of time to start another batch, we can't plant outside until Memorial Day. Thank you all!!!!
by tkhooper on April 06, 2005 08:54 PM
Your thumbs not brown but you may be asking alittle much from your seedlings. They have to have light. From what I've read the seedling grow spindly because they are reaching for the light. They also want a light breeze to strengthen the stems.

I'm not sure but I think you are suppose to wait until they have like 4 true leaves before you take them outside.

I noticed at Walmart that they had those florescent light fixtures that you just stick up for a very reasonable price.

But if you can't get light to your basement (even with a very long extention cord)? you may have to plant outside later in the year. And veggies that take along time to mature may not work for you at all in that situation.

I'm just a beginner myself and I wish you the best of luck. I'll be interested to see what the experts come up with. They manage to come up with solutions for all kinds of things.

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by Sorellina on April 06, 2005 09:36 PM
Ciao Arthur and welcome. Your cool-weather cauliflower and broccoli should be ok. I've never grown them myself, but trying this year for the first time with direct sowing as soon as the threat of frost is over. Here in Toronto, that's usually mid-May. If you can't get light on your nightshades (tomatoes n peppers), I'd buy those babies at a nursery when you're ready to put them into the garden. Garden-worthy size for tomatoes is roughly 8" - 1' and you want to bury those stems all the way up to the first true leaves. They'll make roots all along that stem and grow big n strong. The seed leaves (cotyledons) are skinny and smooth-sided so it's easy to tell them from the true leaves. In addition, by the time the plants are ready to go in the ground, the cotyledons are usually withered and sometimes have fallen off all on their own. If they're still there, don't pinch them off, just bury them. The experts say that giving a tomato plant an intentional owwie can invite foliar disease, just like an open owwie on our own skin invites infection.

Garden-worthy peppers are about the same size and since you're in Maine, you don't want them any smaller than that or you won't get a good harvest. My experience in zone 5 is that the more colourful bells like yellows and lilacs take longer to colour up than the hot varieties like serrano.

Just my 2c Cdn.

Buona fortuna,

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by Meg on April 07, 2005 05:13 AM
Julianna, thanks for the tips. (I know, they weren't meant for me, but hey, it's all a learning experience for me!)

I *had* Roma & Tiny Tim tomato seeds started. They went kaput on me when I had to move them from the table that they were on, and they lost the extra light I bought for them. So glad I only did a few seeds, so I can try again..

Soooo.. can you direct sow tomatoes outside? Or must you start them indoors & then transplant? I'm in zone 6 (almost 7), we are about ready to go frost free I think, (it was 80F this afternoon!) and we had had nice weather up thru the end of October here. (It's 10pm, and still almost 70F outside!) Weeeeeee!!


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by Sorellina on April 08, 2005 03:21 AM

I wait until 2 weeks after the nights are consistently frost-free. You don't want temps much below 40F for transplants. Tomatoes need warmth in order to germinate so sowing seed outside would most likely be sluggish. I know that even with seed labelled for this year, my germination results vary from 4 days to 2 weeks and that's inside with bottom heat (heating pad). I'd start inside if I were you, even if it means you're putting babies outside to harden off when they've only got their 2nd pair of leaves. Anything smaller than that and they'll be way too tender, easily succumbing to windburn, sunscald, or even bugs.

Phone your cooperative extension service (or maybe agricultural extension service in the States, I can't remember). They should be able to help you with frost forecasts and grow-out times for your area.

Buona fortuna!

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