[tomato] Seed starting advice - Thanks Chuck!

Orchid (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Tue, 2 Mar 1999 10:53:22 -0500

Chuck, I want to thank you for the excellent tutorial on starting seeds and
growing healthy seedlings.  All too often books & pamphlets only touch on
the subject, and they certainly don't tell you how to save a bundle of money
on lighting systems.  I was getting depressed looking at the prices of the
plant growing lighting systems and only thought briefly if it could be built
cheaper by myself.  Your suggestion to use a $10 2 bulb shop light (mine
cost $8.97 at Home Depot) set me into motion immediately!  I purchased a
plastic 5 layer shelving system ($49.95) measuring 36" wide x 24" deep and
72" tall. It claims to be able to hold 1000 evenly distributed pounds! I
know I could have devised a cheaper shelving system, but I was so excited I
wanted instant gratification.  Also, as a bonus I have many extra shelves to
store my stuff on. (My wife liked that)  Since this shelving system had
ventilated shelves, it was easy for me to string the shop light from the top
shelf with the supplied chains.  Because I have 1 and 4 year old children
(little rascals) who like to bang things, I bought CLEAR POLYCARBONATE TUBE
LAMP GUARDS ($2.98)  which protects from shattered 48" t-12 lamps.  I don't
think the kids can reach them, but then again, they are very resourceful.

Although you mentioned that using cheap regular fluorescent bulbs work just
as well, I saved so much money thanks to you I splurged and bought GE 40
watt "Sunshine Bulbs" 5000 degrees designed to simulate noon day sun.

Once again, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  If you have time, could you answer a few
questions for me?

1.  Do you think the clear polycarbonate tube guards will affect seedling

2. Seed manuals and yourself mention that after true leaves appear, it is
time to put them into bigger pots, such as 4" pots.  Other than shelf space,
is there any reason why seeds should be started in small containers and then
transplanted to larger ones?  Is there any reason why I couldn't start the
seeds directly in the 4" pots and skip the transplanting altogether (how
about jiffy pots & expandable disks?  One pamphlet hinted at proper root
growth as a reason, but then again, seeds started directly in the garden
have all the room in the world to grow, so how does that affect their root

3. Is Pro-mix BX used for seed starting or repotting, and what is the brand
name and a good national chain to find it?

4. Do you think  coating the white inside of the shop light with reflective
material (tin foil, reflective Mylar?) would increase light output and help

5. Are some tomato seedlings more delicate than others?  My Santa F1 (grape
tomatoes) seem to grow slower and be more leggy than others (with my new
lighting system, I'm hopeing to prevent this)

I'm a ham radio operator, and we always rely on experienced hams
affectionately called " Uncle Elmers"  to help newbies.  Thank you for being

Peter White, Zone 10, South Florida