Early Planting Does N Don'ts


Old 03-16-01, 10:13 AM
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I live in Z6. I purchased a climbing rosebush, a variegated weiglia bush and a red plant. The directions say keep the plants in their original carton, place them in a cool dry place with no sunlight, cover them with wet newspaper and maintain a temp of at least 30 to 40 degrees, and if I can't plant W/I 10 days, if the temp isn't right, I should plant only the roots in a trench, angling the upper part of the plant towards the level ground, thus covering the roots (Called 'Heeling'). When the weather is right, I can move the plants where I want them. Well, I haven't cultivated the ground where I want to do the planting. Is this going to cause me a problem? Will I lose my plants before I get a chance to get them into the ground?
Also, I have plants I have grown indoors from seeds. They are growing funny, tall, very thin and falling over. There are a few more leaves coming out on some of the stalks. I was told to thin when they got to be 3" to 4" tall. I did this on some of them, but a few have died. I don't know why. What do I DO? I am afraid to plant outside, yet. The Dafodils are coming up right now. They are about 3" high. Would it help to plant them outside and cover with clear plastic??

Does anyone have a Mantis Tiller? what do you think of it? Is it a good investment??
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Old 03-16-01, 08:28 PM
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k4runner, This is what I would do and of course this just my opinion. On the climbing rosebush, variegated weiglia bush and red plant I would pot them and if not already start to acclimate them to the outside during the day and bring them in at night until all danger of frost has passed. Your seedlings are starving for sun. If you can start putting them out every day satrting for just 15 minutes and increasing every day the may be saved....Mike
Old 03-19-01, 06:14 AM
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Thumbs up PrePlanting / Daycare

Thanks so much for the info, but it seems some have given up. The seedlings have almost all dried up. There are some I may be able to save as you suggest. I don't know if it will be enough, but I will do what I can. I work 2 jobs and am not always home in the early part of the day when it is warm. I get home (shortest time) about 04:00 PM on weekdays. Will this be enough time do you think??
I will pot the roses and red plant today.
It upsets me to think when I ordered these plants via the internet, they would send them so early. The company said they would send them when planting is right for my area. This is not so. The temp dropped to about 26 deg last night. It is expected to be at least below 30 deg F for the next few days, but 47 to 51 deg F during the high part of the day.
Old 03-19-01, 07:16 AM
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Most catalogue companies will ship seeds at any time, and will only attempt to time the shipping of plants (tho it seems like yours messed up here). Next time, when you get your seeds, do this: Figure out when it is safe to plant in your area. Then, look at the back of the seed packet. Most will say how many weeks beforehand to start. Then count back on the calandar for when to start. If you are worried that you may not have enough light, you can wait a little longer to start them, as you can always put the trays outside when it warms up.

If you can save any of the tomatos, don't worry excessively about them being straggly. Once it is safe to put them outside, the new parts growing will be stouter. Be sure to give them support so they don't fall over on the skinny bottoms. When you go to plant them in the garden, you should plant them quite deep, with the bottom part of the stem at least 3-4" under ground. Tomatos produce roots from the stem when it's underground. In fact, even if you buy good stout plants from the store it's best to do this as it makes for a stronger plant overall. Be sure to break off any leaves that would be underground. Other than that, you can plant them as deep as you want as long as a few leaves are sticking out.

Also, if you're like me, you're always looking to save a few $$ (esp. if working 2 jobs). Many times you can get seeds cheaper than the catalogues. Home depot discouts Burpee seeds. Wal-mart and K-mart also have their own brands that seem to be OK. They're cheaper, and then they go on sale on top of it sometimes!

I'm not sure a tiller is a good idea unless you have a whole lot of ground to till to start a new garden. Even so, renting might be better. Once your garden is started, if you take good care of the soil and mulch it with organic matter, it should stay quite healthy. I mulch mine with straw. It keeps down on the watering, and basically eliminates weeds (except for the few wheat seedlings that come up at first - they're easy to pull out). Soil really shouldn't be tilled over and over because it breaks down the soil's structure. Turning with a shovel doesn't do this as much because it isn't acting like a food processor. Plants rely on soil and organic matter forming aggregates, much like an underground mosaic, to help aerate and hold water and nutrients. Tillers will break up these aggregates if used too much. I wouldn't even till every year, it's really too much of a blender.

Good luck, don't worry, you've learned something with your seedlings. Even the most experienced gardeners and professionals can (and will) mess up some new plant they're trying. Just ride along with the process and enjoy.
Old 03-19-01, 08:02 AM
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I am not a newcomer to planting, etc. I helped my parents till and plant a large backyard garden for years thru my early childhood/teen years. Some of these things you don't forget. Still my parents used live plants purchased from a store. I thought I could go one better saving money by doing the seed/seedling thing. Boy, was I wrong. I could have purchased seeds/plants from my job where I work at Lowe's Whse. With the employee discount, I would have saved more money. The plants I purchased were not available at our store. I will go there, should I need to replace anything.
The stalks are very long. It seems there may not be enough heat/light (sun) for the plants. Currently, they are in my bedrm (gets a lot of light, not sun). My former dining rm has light in the extreme (some sun), but limited space. I have a cornicopia of houseplants everywhere. I love plants and they freshen the air. I planted some exotic plants (don't ask the name now)and a few old favorites, i.e. loofa, black coleus (rare), tomato, sunflower, some herbs, plus others. It doesn't look good for some of them. Your info is greatly appreciated.
I believed that tilling the soil initially to break ground was good for the soil to keep it in a loamy form would promote good growth for the plants and adding nutrients to the soil would grow hearty plants. Is this not still true??
Old 03-19-01, 02:24 PM
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Yeah, nowadays Home Depot and Lowes have some things really inex*****vely (especially if you add in the cost of sterile seed starting mix and trays).

Do you have fluorescent lights over your seedlings? This may help. I think a shop light costs about $8. I find that it also keeps my African violets in constant bloom.

A tiller does help with initial ground breaking, or if you're trying to work in a really large amount of organic material. With annual ammenmends of organic material, I (and others I've seen) just let the worms work it in. I just figure that unless you have a huge garden that requires lots of turning over, it's cheaper to rent one for the initial ground breaking (and it won't take up garage space either). A tiller isn't essential even for ground breaking, though. I was lazy during my most recent garden addition, and didn't turn over my Georgia clay (by hand, I can't afford to even rent a tiller). I just mulched with straw and went at it. My veggies didn't seem to be any worse for the wear - had more tomatos than I could eat!
Old 03-20-01, 06:45 AM
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Tillers, Etc.

I looked at a few tillers, books on the subject (in case I DID forget something) and a few other sources on gardening. I have this upper/lower split yard that has nothing but grass/weeds in it. I love flowers, the more colorful the better. I want to be surrounded by them and vegetables (love them, too). Buying a new house, I need to save money on everything I can. I propose to buy a tiller for the flower beds (raised and whatnot) I want to create in my yard. I was thinking of hedges/bushes/small trees for privacy and beauty, but I don't think I want the work that comes with those. Do you have any advice on purchasing these? Remember, I like colorful and green all year long, even in winter. Working 2 jobs, my time is limited. The tiller I was talking about is a Mantis. It weights 20 LBs, guaranteed for life and you can purchase a multitude of extentions/parts, which are inexspensive. It is supposed to be great for weeding and cultivating any type soil into a rich loam. You can even work in your soil additives using the Mantis. I've been watching it for over 3 years now. I want one for the ease in use. I have Arthritis so this is a good deal for me. I have the room in my shed (no garage) for storage. I plan on using the Mantis tiller for a long time to come. I do want a small veggie garden in the lower backyard area. I like my veggies fresh (fresher the better). I could save money by not going to the orchard for them, if I can grow them myself. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Do you know if it is true that using a tiller frequently can be bad for the nutrients in the soil? (see above)

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