Seed Starting with Rebecca Krans
February 16, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start my seeds?
This is largely dependent on what you are growing! Starting seeds too early can cause plants to get root bound (when roots take up the entirety of the container they are in) and stressed (absorbing all the nutrients in the seed starting material) and cause them to struggle even after being transplanted outside. Seed packets will generally provide information on how long before transplant a seed needs to be planted. The University of Minnesota resource above provides a lot of information on this. Whether you are starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouse that is heated, the guidance is the same – working backwards from when you want to transplant outside. This guide talks specifically about peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes Time to start vegetable garden seeds.
You can use your areas average frost free date to know when you are safe to plant outside: Frost Free Dates
Do I need to fertilize after my seeds sprout?
If you are starting with a good quality seed starting mix you should not need to fertilize. Some signs that your plants might be stressed for nutrients are yellowing or discolored leaves or slow or no growth. If your plants look stressed, a nitrogen heavy fish meal fertilizer diluted in water can be a temporary solution before transplanting outside. Here is a good resource on understanding seed starting media: Potting soils and seed starting mixes for your garden
Does the table of recommend temperatures apply to air temperatures or soil temperatures?
Temperatures listed on seed packet for optimum germination/growth refer to soil temperatures. Soil will generally take longer to change temperature than the air above it! If we have a warm day early on, that doesn’t mean the soil has warmed up enough outside to reliably move plants outdoors. This article by our speaker Rebecca Krans is helpful in understanding soil temperatures: Determine soil temperatures before planting vegetables for improved results
I’m confused on whether or not containers need drainage holes!
If you watched last year’s episode on Container Gardening – you’ll remember that drainage holes are VERY IMPORTANT! Becca Krans mentioned that during germination, drainage holes are not as important. This is generally true, however you need to be careful not to oversaturate the water. If you are a first timer at this, we recommend vessels with a drainage hole in order to make sure water is not stagnant. Soil that is overly saturated can promote seed rot or surface mold.
How do I know if my seeds will still grow? They are old, or were not stored properly.
We will cover so much of this in our upcoming episode on seed saving with Shiloh Maples, but a quick germination test should tell you if your seeds are still viable! Place a wet paper towel in a plastic bag with 10 seeds. Wait the appropriate germination time (based on seed packet recommendations) and see how many germinate. That will help you know what your germination percentage is and if it’s worthwhile to plant the seeds you have or purchase new. Generally, seeds stored in cool, dry, dark environments can be saved for several years before the germination rate decreases significantly. This article provides more specifics: Are you worried that last years seeds won't grow in your garden?
- University of Minnesota Extension has a wonderfully comprehensive indoor seed starting guide that can be accessed here: https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/starting-seeds-indoors
- This guide covers details on starting seeds, light information, and how to transplant, in addition to some of the questions on timing. While there is some variation based on climate, Minnesota is similar enough to Michigan that this is a great reference!
- There were a few questions on container gardening. While we aren’t covering this topic in our 2021 series, MSU Extension Educator Rebecca Finneran joined us last year to share her wisdom on container gardening! You can watch it or any of our other previous webinars at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/home_gardening/resources/learning-online
- So many folks were interested in learning more about lighting! Lighting is a very important element for seed starting. If plants don’t have enough of the right kinds of light, they will stretch, becoming structurally weak and with a likelihood of breaking. Here is a pretty comprehensive guide on understanding lighting types for indoor seed starting: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/transplant_production_light_considerations. Plants need light from 12 – 16 hours per day for optimum growth. Flourescent and LED shop lights can both be used to provide artificial lighting. Fluorescent bulbs tend to cost less up front but use more electricity compared to LED. They are also easy to purchase at any home improvement store. LED grow lights cost more up front but will use less electricity.
So welcome to Cabin Fever conversations. I'm Abby Harper and myself and my co-host, Isabel Branstrom will be guiding you through the next ten weeks. We're coming to you, like I said, from usually gray Lansing Michigan this time of year, both of us are with MSU Extension based and the greater Lansing area. We're both educators serving primarily mid Michigan though we know we're welcoming many of you from all over the state and some from out-of-state. So we're grateful to have you with us today and welcome to any non Michiganders joining us as well. We started Cabin Fever Conversations last year in March, I believe. Right After COVID hit and had a lot of us hanging at home. And feeling a lot of social isolation at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. And while we didn't anticipate that we'd be in this position quite this long, we realized that even almost a year later we find ourselves in a pretty similar situation. So that coupled with the fact that we tend to have a little bit of cabin fever anytime this time of year in Michigan. We thought it would be a great idea to bring it back in 2021. So if you were with us last year and you're back again this year, thanks so much for sticking with us. It's going to be great to go through this with you all again. If you're new this year, we're really grateful for you being here as well. And we hope that you'll find opportunities for inspiration and joy and learning throughout this series. When we built this program last year, it was a lot of "seat of our pants" planning, kind of building it as we went, building the ship as we sailed it, finding speakers and identifying topics as we went. And we know that a lot of you got a lot of value out of last year. But we've also been working hard to be more intentional in our planning this year. So now you have the whole schedule ahead of time, which is a new and improved feature. And then in addition to some of our speakers like Rebecca Krans today who are talking really about their specialty, niche knowledge. We also have scheduled a couple conversations with some of our community partners in the Greater Lansing area and some community partners of our colleagues who are doing really incredible work to build community and support inclusion and community gardening and agriculture. And are really excited to have those conversations throughout the series as well and hope you get a lot of value out of those. Yes. So you will also notice a few different things this year, namely that we have ASL interpretation. So we would like to welcome Rachel our interpreter. Rachel, thank you so much for being here. We also have live captioning available. So if you want to adjust the location of those captions, you can drag them around on your screen. If you would like to adjust the font size, on the Zoom toolbar at the bottom of the screen, you can click the little carrot arrow next to "Live transcript" and then "Subtitle settings." And then if you want to turn them off, you can click that same little carrot arrow next to "Live transcript" and hit and select "Hide subtitle." So Cabin Fever Conversations are centered around lighthearted conversations to get you feeling some joy, enthusiasm and connection over gardening. So we'll have about a 30 to 40 minute guided conversation, followed by a chance to answer some of your questions. You can ask questions at anytime using the Q and A feature. Again at that toolbar at the bottom of the zoom screen. We probably won't get to everyone's questions, but we aren't gonna send a follow-up email with resources to address some of the questions that maybe we didn't have the chance to answer. So today's guest is our colleague, Becca Krans. Becca is an MSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Educator located in the upper peninsula. She's an avid horticulturist who has experience in the greenhouse, in the landscape industry, gardening education for all ages and vegetable farming. Farming. So she has germinated thousands of seeds and continues to enjoy the fruits of this labor. So welcome Becca, we are so excited to have you here. Thanks, great to be here. Yeah, we're excited we can bring you in from the UP. How's it going there? Oh, it's also snowy and wintery. Yes. So what an excellent topic. Yeah. What a great day to start Cabin Fever Conversations I think. For sure. We want to start off by asking you, what about seed starting brings you joy? Yeah, great question. And just thinking back in my childhood too, it's really about the amazement of the whole process. And as a child and even now as an adult, um, as I continue to get older, I just, I just love the amazement of starting with a tiny seed and then having something develop that you're able to eat. And then along with that, the fresh and healthy vegetables that you can grow, that was always a part of my life growing up with my family, we had a very large garden. And then overall the, the plant's life cycle of, of that process of seed to seed. And I just love sharing, being able to share that. And I have many times working with children and now with adults too. And then there's the ability to be able to care of that plant. I love animals, but I'm also a plant lover of course. So you can take pride and accomplishment in what you are doing and you can see as some of those, the background here. I'm getting hungry already. And then also... It is lunch time. It does help me think about spring as well because this is the time typically that we we start them and it's always, you know, it's a long winter here in Michigan, probably a little longer in the UP. So, yeah, you have to have something to look forward to. We think it's important to kinda keep the future in mind and look forward during these times. I do want to do a bit of troubleshooting cuz I understand that our interpreter is having a hard time showing up on people's screens. So I want to make sure that that is starting. So I know Rebecca is gonna go into some slides here, but I want to make sure that folks are able to see all three of us as presenters as well as the, as Rachel our interpreter. So Barslund or Lori can you give me some feedback about whether or not folks are able to see? Alright, so there's an instruction for folks to see the gallery view. It seems like folks are able to see that now. But if you're having a hard time seeing the interpreter, okay. Click on the "View" option. On a computer screen. It's up in the right-hand corner of Zoom. So click on that and then select "Gallery view." Yeah. Thank you so much. And thanks to Barslund and Lori are behind the scenes helping us troubleshoot as well. So appreciate that. Alright, so we're ready to talk about seed saving, or seed starting. So take it away Rebecca. Maybe just to start if you can tell us why you think seed starting is so important or valuable to home gardeners. Usually we can just go to a store and buy some plants and throw them in the ground. So what might be some of the incentive to start it before that process in your home. Well, there are a huge number of seeds in cultivars that are out there. So really, and especially for beginners, definitely, you can grow what you want to eat, what you're going to use. And you can select what other, whatever type of cultivar. So you can see there's many different types of greens in this catalog that's here. And as we sift through the catalogs, we can pick out just what you like. And I want to remind people that vegetables can be beautiful to. So there's so many different colors. Burgundy lettuce is different textures, tastes. And so definitely those are some options here. I just wanted to show you this container of burlap. Just more of a smaller area. That people can do if you're not going to be in a large garden, which we would promote for beginning gardeners, start small. So you can have success in this burlap. That would be something that you would, just because it would get messy, you'd want to start your seeds when it's nicer outdoors, say 40 to 50 degrees. Or you can also use older pet food bags which are in the background behind me just fold them down over, put some nice seed starting mix in there and you can begin those again, those are cooler type ones. Also, there's many different, I wanted to talk about some of the different vocabulary that's out there to you guys. So for example, you may hear heirloom or open pollinated. So those type of seeds allow you to be able to then save your seeds and you'll get exactly the type of vegetable that you started with. And then there's the hybrid seeds. And these are going to be a cross between two different parents. And so we've developed them for a specific characteristic. So for example, a certain color, good taste, disease resistance is a really big one, a big benefit for, for the hybrid ones. These are not going to do what we call breed true. So the seeds that develop the year that you plant them, you don't want to collect those cuz you're not going to be, it's not going to be the same type of vegetable. And then I want to mention too GMOs can be a controversial issue, but I wanted to mention that to, that stands for genetically modified organisms. But currently there aren't any vegetable seeds on the market for that. So it's kind of a marketing ploy at this time. And currently they're only found in field crops. And it's actually, they're genetically engineered. So they're actually taking a gene from a different organism and putting them into the, the vegetables. Then there's organic seeds to, and you're going to find that these are a little more expensive because it takes a process to go through to get them certified as organic. Yeah, so it's nice to think about the control that you can have about what types of plants you're growing. Beyond just what is offered and thinking about some of those values that show up and seeds and making choices of whether or not to focus on those, but at least having that autonomy to be able to make those choices. Exactly. Yeah. Just wanted to show you what's out there. And then there's all the uses that we have. Tomatoes are a big one. I just did something with the nutrition group and they're all about preserving the different vegetables. And so there's different types of tomatoes that are better for canning. This is an example of some that we have developed. And typically heirlooms have these to all of these compartments here locules. So they're really good for slicing, they're really good for salsa. And so you want to look for those different types of what it is that you're going to use them for. So another example there, and then again, are cucumbers. Look at all the variety here, there's the ones that you can use for pickling, usually are shorter, the longer ones for slicing. I always like to look for the burpless ones usually an English type cucumber is going to be better with that. But so much different variety there. And then again, cucumbers, a lot of people mentioned, well, I'll get this white stuff on my leaves every year, or they have problems with their tomatoes too. Well, look for some of the seeds that are disease resistant. So if you're having problems and oh, that it's early blight, or late blight. Well select that seed that is resistant to that. Or with cucumbers, maybe powdery mildew or downy mildew for those that are resistant. So you're not going to be as disappointed with your crop. Yeah, I have a question. So if somebody's just starting out and they want to consider all of this information. Where would be a good place to start? Is this stuff you can find an a seed catalog or you have to dig. Yeah, most seed catalogs are going to have this information for you. Okay. Yeah, they have good keys as to the disease resistance that's available there. They usually have really nice pictures because we're usually attracted to the pictures for each of them. Yeah. And then we have a lot of great stuff on our Gardening in Michigan website as well for people to continue to to learn. Yeah, we'll share a lot of those resources out after too, and the other thing that comes up for me too, and we think about the value of this is that it's just like another way to interact with your garden at a time when usually we're not interacting with our garden, right? Starting seeds indoors in a time when there's snow on the ground as a way to like, again, foster that hope for what's coming, that excitement for getting your hands in more dirt and the summer and just sort of starting that process earlier, which I think I need a lot right now. I don't know about everyone else, Oh yeah, I agree for sure. I also wanted to mention too, that with your seed selecting, you can really expand the production of your garden and when things are going to be able to be harvested. So with this cabbage here, you can get some cabbage that's our early maturing. You can get, plant some that is mid and then some that is late as well. And then similar with your tomatoes to there's, there's early, there's mid, there's late. And then there's also something that we call indeterminate or determinate. Indeterminate, they're just going to continue to grow and produce for you. So you will have a continual harvest as well. Love the never ending harvest. Becca, if somebody is kinda starting out for the first time, what should they consider? Well, I kind of put it down here. Three easy things that I would suggest. So definitely again, grow what you, what you love. Two I'm gonna go into some of the things as far as planning, some of the things that are important, the most important things for you to think about. We talked about a journal was mentioned at the start. I love that a journal. You can take photos too. It's very important. Plan to take notes what started, what didn't, and then always begin or start small and find success. So I'll show you some examples of how we can do that. A lot of information here. But number one factor we say is lighting. Don't think that you're going to have great success just by putting everything in a bright window, starting your seeds. Oftentimes they get really leggy. Overgrown, stretching, trying to get that light. So there's lots of different lights out there. And I know a lot of, a lot more research is being done on these LEDs. And they're, they are more expensive, but they're going to last longer. They're more cost efficient. Now, we're really, up until, now have suggested a fluorescent and getting you know, a cool and a warm bulb that's going to give the full spectrum for you. But definitely, you know. You're going to need some kind of artificial lighting. And you know, I've had friends who have started things with just natural light and some plants they have more success with than others. But part of the challenge with that when it's going towards the window is like when you think about house plants, they grow in that direction, right? So they got kinda like wonky and long and twisted. And that maybe matters more for some plants than for others. There are some plants where you can kind of course correct that somewhere along the way. But I do agree that switching to an artificial light makes it, ups your game significantly. So definitely, yeah. And that's, you know, in a greenhouse, it's nothing but but light, starting starting out. Sometimes we have to supplement, but that's why they're so successful. Here's just a photo. There's racks up there. You can reuse different things. One suggestion, I mean, this has the light attached you'll have more success if you're able to raise and lower, rather than putting blocks under there, to get your, your seeds up there. So here's an example of one that you can raise and lower, and this is a fluorescent light here. That's good to know. Yeah. And then I say, here's something that you'd want to be careful about because you have some developed seedlings here. They look nice and strong. But what about these over here? They're, they're too far away from this light. So they're gonna be stretching more. So you wanna think about that when you are planning out your seeds too. And you guys had asked too, like "Well, what seeds are good to start?" You know, typically a lot of the, the fruit bearing ones, we will start indoors like tomatoes are a big one. Peppers or another one. We usually steer away from the root crops. It doesn't make sense to plant a seed up for like a radish or a carrot indoors and then have to transplant that, that would be very, you know, it disrupts them. So we normally direct seed those, those root crops out in the soil when soil temperatures are warm enough, usually 50 degrees, I'd say for those cooler ones. Yeah. So thinking through some of those things you would already by maybe as transplants a little bit along the way. Like tomatoes, like peppers even like lettuce and a lot of cruciferous cauliflower, broccoli, those sorts of things. Definitely, yeah, yeah. And even squash they get a lot of fruit too. But unless you can, they don't really like to be transplanted much. So unless you're going to put them in to a peat container which will break down or there's the soil, soilless. Blocks. Yeah. Yeah. Which would be less transplant shock. Otherwise, we wait until the soil warms up. 70 degrees is great, better for those. Yellow squash, cucumbers, beans also are something that we typically put up right away. So I wanted to show this photo because this person definitely knows what they're doing. And the resources. Things are, things are neat, things are green. And this is something that could easily get out of control, especially as beginners and you'd get very overwhelmed. Probably. There's a huge variety of different, you know, seedlings here. Like I mentioned, some like it a cooler temperature, some like warmer. And so as beginners, I, again, I we suggest that you start small, maybe one or two, you know, starting things by seed. And then there's just a variety of different reusable containers here too, which that's pretty, you know, that you don't need to go out and buy all the latest and greatest. So got that. And then I did have some other resources too. So we can get into some of those. Definitely talked about the viable seed. And sometimes people ask, well, you know, "What package should I get?" Well, any of those that are in packages. They had to have gone through testing, germination. So it's really what you want to try. Maybe you get suggestions from family members or neighbors. But anything that that are seed packets or as we went over, you're looking maybe for that that organic or you want an heirloom so you can resave. A seed starting mix is very important. It actually has no soil in it. So it's nice and light. What does it have in it? Oh, what does it have? Okay. So yeah, usually it has some peat in there and probably some vermiculite. Some of the, the white, people think that's Styrofoam, but it's perlite, sometimes worm castings are put in there and as well as some compost to that's really good for your seed starting because it helps provide some nutrients when they first germinate. So what would happen if somebody were to just use like regular kind of gardening soil in starting seeds? Yeah, we'll first, if they didn't pasteurize it or sterilize it, it would have bad organisms in there. So you'd have a much greater chance of maybe rot in there. And then also the garden soil is very heavy. And so, you know, the seeds may be too moist, not allowed to dry it. We don't want the seeds to dry out once they've become wet. But it's just a lot harder to maintain that nice moisture and environment to allow air in their garden soil probably wouldn't have enough air. For seeds to successfully germinate. But more than that, it's the sterile environment as well. Yeah. Yeah, I like that you pointed out the air in the soil because I feel like that sometimes I think people forget is like soil has air in it. That would be a very important one of my first year starting seeds in my home. I use garden soil and they experience I had was mostly that there was very heavy compaction and so the water either saturated it and then it stayed saturated or it completely ran off and all the seeds dried out and didn't get what they need. And so I had pretty spotty germination. And so part of it too is just thinking like what things can you do up front so that you don't waste several months hoping seeds will grow and then get much less than what you intended, right? And I was one of those things that as one of the most critical building blocks that we often think we can substitute with less ideal substitutes? Yes, yeah, I would entirely agree. And again, once you get that moist, the soilless mix and you've put your seed in there, you want to keep that moist and so I'm showing I'll have some photos here, but actually having a cover on that. Some of your kits come with covers or you can simply use plastic wrap, cuz you, you want that you shouldn't have to water your, your seeds again once you've watered them, water thoroughly, once they then germinate, then you're going to slowly remove that cover and the plant will need some more water. So that's another critical issue that I, that I find people might have difficulty with. That's a good tip that you should only for the germination process only have to water once. And then once you get that germination adjust your watering. Helpful tip, Becca. Okay, thanks. Typically, and we're doing this in, in the home or even in a large tray and the greenhouse. The container doesn't have holes in the bottom of it. That's different than when we had transplants because we want to keep that moisture in there so there's not going to be a drainage hole at the bottom. The only way the water you're going to be able to monitor that is to remove that that top. And some plants, like I said, like a little warmer. So there's actually heat maps that you could use. I know peppers are typically a little temperamental that way, but you can use that to warm the soil or even when you're putting the water to moisten the water, use warm water. If it's a tomato or a pepper that like it warmer or cooler crops, you're cabbages that you mentioned. They like it cool, so just use cool water putting in there. Yeah, so it's helpful to think like when do I put these crops out in the environment when do they thrive outside, right? And cabbages are that fall vegetable that does really well when it starts to get those cooler temperatures. And so cooler water for germination makes sense. Versus peppers are typically more tropical environments and sometimes there are some peppers that have much longer seasons than we have in Michigan. And so getting that kind of warmer temperature and thinking about spaces in your house that are not, you know, I tried one year in my basement, which is one of those standard Michigan basements and did not do very well because there was just it's it's meant for keeping cool. Yeah. Exactly. So yeah, that's a good good point, Abby and many people think, well, I want to use my basement. Well, you know, think about what you're going to, tomatoes probably are not gonna like that. And even the fluorescent lights, they don't give off heat like the old incandescent, so that's not going to warm your tomatoes up. And then putting them over a register. Heat register. Well, that's probably going to fry a lot a lot of them. I've done that! Or dry them out. Except for watermelon they would let you know the 90, actually, they like 90 degrees to 100 to get those to germinate. Yeah. Yeah. And then think of your labels. Labelings very important. And then of course, the patience to yeah, because it might be a week, it could be two weeks. So always check-in and know in the back of the seed package tells you normally, look at this 10 to 21 days that you might have to wait. So depending upon what conditions you're giving it, that's lettuce, normally that pops up, but bib is little bit different. So everything you're going to need is on the back of a seed package. Or if you're buying in bulk, you know, it's going to be in that seed catalog that you, you purchased. So as Abby mentioned, count backwards. So this one is telling you the frost-free dates on the right here. Here we are. Oh, you guys are down there are earlier April. Here usually in the UP, we say June first, you're going to be safe or typically after Memorial Day, but even then, we might get some some frost too. So if, you know, like tomatoes, typically early March, you want to start though. So then they're good size before you transplant them. Rebecca, we had a UP the specific question that maybe you need to do is the, how do you grow tomatoes in the UP knowing you all have a very limited season, I imagine that starting seeds indoors is pretty essential. It is a mid Michigan too, but to being able to grow tomatoes. Do you have a favorite tomato variety you've been growing or any tips on that? Uh, well, I love the, the roma tomatoes for, for paste. There also. Because they stick together, they're good for, for canning too. But then I like a good slicing tomatoes. So mid, mid season ones there's like the big boy or celebrities are are some that I like. And then the heirlooms, I'm still trying different ones out there, but even though they're all different shapes and everything there, just so sweet and I just love the tastiness of heirlooms. And as far as, you know, in the UP our smaller growing season time, cuz sometimes we might only have 80 days if mother nature is not very nice of a growing season. Definitely starting in doors. And then you can use some different season extensions to get them out earlier. Also, they're protected earlier and later. And then you could choose those that are, you know, even earlier maturing. But if you want to go with the, the larger sized ones using the season extension, being able to have row covers or a wall of water around them, you'll find success as well. And it's a good reminder too that on most of the state, we're going to have an episode. Oh, go ahead Isabel. I was going to say we're going to have an episode on seed extension, or season extension. So, we'll cover that. Is that near the end? That is. Yeah, the last episode of the series, is going to be on how to practice season extension in your home garden. And I will say one of the, one of the helpful things to know about reading seed packets is most of them, if they're meant to be planted for transplants like those tomatoes, will tell you how many weeks before your frost-free days you can plant them. And so you can look at your region and find your frost-free date. And then like you said, count backwards from that as to when you Should. I was on a gardening group recently where folks were starting to do it now. And when you think about, you know, early February doing that, you're really just going to get so much time when plants are kinda like bound into that cell. So it's that balance of not planting them too early, the early enough that you get them to a stable point for that outside transplant. Yeah, thanks for bringing that up Abby because another really important thing for especially beginners is the space issue. When you're working in a greenhouse, there's space, but in a house. And you know, maybe don't use the whole seed packet. Because if you're like me, I don't like to throw any of the little transplants that seeds germinated out. And so, I mean, there's a lot of seeds in that tomato package. You're not gonna need a whole one of those. And if you're using new seed, it's all going to germinate for you. So just putting one seed in, in a cell or a container that you're going to use is going to be plenty. So those are important parts. We also get questions like, can I use old seeds? And so that just goes along because you're probably not going to use your whole packet of tomato seeds unless you're really going to produce a lot, and as long as they're kept dry in the dark, cool place, we suggest freezer, that's a great storage area. And then you can use a germination test, like put ten seeds in a moistened paper towel and let it sit for seven to ten days for germination and then see how many have germinated. If only five of those have germinated, well, you're down 50%. So putting at least two of those seeds in each of your cells is going to be more productive for you. So wanted to bring that up for you. Here's just a photo of what the soilless mix looks like. I keep mine in a Rubbermaid container, again, making sure that this doesn't get wet. And here that you're not using a trowel that you did use out in your garden. Making sure that it's clean, that you don't have used soil on there, you brush that off, you wash it with dish soap and then also sterilize with 10% bleach solution is important and that's important for reusing of containers too. So Rebecca, once you once you have that medium started, Do you do anything as far as fertilizing or adding nutrients throughout the process. or is that kind of seed starting mix enough for you? That seed starting mix is enough for me, especially if there are some worm castings or compost in there. I like to mix that in there because that does provide some organic, more organic material for, for the seeds. And the seed, it actually has everything that it needs to germinate. But once the green growth has started, that's when you're gonna start to see, oh, maybe I'm missing something like if your seedlings turn purple, that's an indication that they might be lacking in phosphorus. So but having some kind of organic matter in there is is going to help eliminate that. Yeah. So there's different types of containers to I wanted to tell people about. Definitely the plastic here is popular, it's out on the market. I believe these are recyclable too, but you can just as easily reuse them. Again, making sure that everything's clean and sterile too. Pressed peat Show you an example of that. Then there's expandable peat pellets. Some people think of eggshells, newspaper, egg cartons. I'd probably steer beginners away from those just because there's, it's so small of an area and that those materials are porous. So they dry out a lot, lot quicker. And I'd say, And I've seen that it's more difficult for beginners. To have success with those, but that's another thing you could reuse. The other thing I was thinking too is we have some farms in our area that periodically will dispose of kind of some of their older plastic stuff that doesn't hold up for their needs, but are really good for home gardeners. So if you're in that camp of wanting to try this but not wanting to invest a lot in materials. Reaching out to local greenhouses or gardens to see if they're getting rid of some of that old stuff and then sterilizing it is a good way to kinda bulk up your materials without having to invest a lot. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And this this photo here I'm gonna show you definitely beginners. And I'd even say for adults, this would drive me crazy. Stay away from too many different things. You can see there's marigolds, there's corn which we typically don't, suggest. That would be one you would direct seed, making sure soil is at least 65 plus degrees. So this is, this is too, too busy here. And then these seeds also are going to require different things to, so you want to put your like, your like things together. So like tomatoes and peppers, they like it warm. You won't want to put a, you know, a cool one necessarily with them because you're going to, you know, they like different temperatures to more have more success. This also shows you the pressed peat, okay? And so this is difficult to get moist once it does. And then you also want to think these tags are sticking up. You want to know how are you going to cover this with plastic? Or if you have a larger dome, that's going to be difficult for you because you want to moistened this peat as well as all of the mixture around. And I think that's a, that's a big problem, probably issue for beginners too, because it's going to wick moisture away from, from the seed and dry it out. Can you guys hear me? I was having some audio issues. Oh, this is going to answer my question about covering your seeds and ideal sort of plastic to use and things like that. Okay. Yeah, so here's a tray. You'll notice these in the greenhouse and nurseries. And some trays have holes, some dont. This is what we use when I was in the industry for seed starting. You could make rows here, but again, try to organized like kinds of seeds in here and those that maybe germinate at similar times. Because otherwise it might be difficult for you to, to organize and then be sure that you label them too. But once you put this cover on and see that condensation which we see up here. And I'm not promoting McDonald's, it's just an example to reuse. There's lots of other ones out there that these salad containers are, are great. There's also organic lettuce mixes that you get in the grocery to that I've used the containers for. It's all right there for you and they don't have holes in the bottom. Once again, once what's most important once it germinates you have to slowly remove this cover. Anything with living plants, you want to do that slowly over time, change their conditions. And I can speak from experience that if you don't, you will fry your plants. They will not survive for very long though. I'll save you all the learning curve of that one. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. We do have a soil temperature conditions, you know, I'm I'm listing, you know, which ones are cool, which ones are warm. We have these resources right on our Gardening in Michigan website which we'll provide for you as well, and know what their optimum temperatures are. Yes, we'll send a follow up email with a lot of the resources that Becca is referencing. There are some really handy guides that help you think about when to plant things, as well as kinda temperature requirements for some of them. So we'll make sure to send those out and then you can use that to group them together. Like Rebecca was saying. Wonderful. So here's an even higher dome here and it has those peat pellets and here, one thing, excuse me, that I've noticed and others that this is kind of a mesh. It doesn't always really break down because you can transplant this directly into your soil, but you're going to find that the mesh is still there over time. And I would note here that if they have these planted, number one, we're missing labels, so I don't know what I didn't here it and then it's also not moist enough. By looking at this color, it needs to be dark because peat, and then the, the mixture in there needs to be dark and we can see that we're not really forming any condensation. There is some condensation back there. So that's, that's a big, big key. I'd love to see that condensation. You love your note about labels too, because I'm somebody who historically has not been great at organizing. And one thing to remember when you're growing these small things is that once they sprout or ones are covered in dirt, it's very hard to distinguish at the early ages, but you've got a couple of different varieties of tomatoes. There is not really going to be an easy way to distinguish one from the other if you haven't labeled. And if they require a different sort of structures of support or different growing length than you're, you're going to be confused when you go to put them in your soil. So another plug for labeling. I know we talked about that a lot last year too, and every year is an opportunity to get better? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And especially the heirloom, if you you can sometimes tell but you don't know the specific variety of heirlooms if you're planting more than one. And you want to, for seed saving, you want to be able to know which ones you're, you're recollecting. And here's just some other examples of reasonable reusable containers. Again, some different yogurt. Once again, think about how you are going to put the plastic over here? Maybe slide that label around it. These looked to be possibly pepper. And they're all the same in a container. So that's what we would suggest for you. So just some different ideas there. Here's a no, no. I would say it definitely looks like they're not trying to, you know, germinate these because it's way too dry it out. Again. There's no cover over it. It's dried. And then once the seedlings would pop up, we would want to put these lights down over like only an inch away from where the plants are with fluorescent, it's not going to burn them, but they need to have that, that light on them and then you slowly move it up over time. Hey, Becca, do you think we can go into like some no no examples that we have? Sure. Yeah, just have this, this last slide here and then that would be great, Isabel. So yeah, pointing this out, it's great. We see condensation here. And then definitely because this dome is so high in the plants, they don't need when they're in their kinda seedling chamber, they don't need the light on them. So I would suggest you move this to another place until they they have sprouted and you move this down. So we're not getting this stretching. Yeah, they're getting a little leggy. Like, you know, there are some plants, that you can kind of adapt for that. Like tomatoes, you can plant super deep. So even if they get a little leggy, you can find ways to reinforce them later on. But like I had that happen with kale or collard or something like that and they just went into the ground, kind of warped. And then you're spending the rest of the season and trying to make them go straight, right? Yeah. And something else that helps too, Abby, is like a light fan or some people could even brush them lightly. And when I'm in the greenhouse, we do use fans because that helps to simulate in the plants actually react to that. Their cells get strengthened. So what, do you have Isabel? I don't know if Abby wants to go first. Go first. And I'm, I can't believe I'm sharing this story because this just, I want to emphasize that I think one of my favorite things about gardening is the amount of ability to mess up and adapt another season, right? If you do something silly, the next year, you just try and do it a little bit better. So I learned some important lessons about heat and moisture when I, this was maybe four years ago and I'll just share this small picture. Quick example. So what you're seeing here is right after I seeded a bunch of peppers and I overseeded peppers because I was seeding with a friend who decided she really likes shishito peppers and she wanted 130 shishito plants that I don't have space for in my like five by ten garden. But as you mentioned, peppers really prefer hot, hot temperature is not hot, hot but warm temperatures. And I didn't want to go out and buy new material. So what you're actually seeing that blue mat underneath is from my parents water bed from the 90's they had a gigantic king sized water bed that had heating mats in it. And as they deconstructed it, they saved these anticipating, apparently that I might need them for seeds. I will say the two things that I did not do well on this, as you can see, there is no dome on top. So these dry out really quickly and I got pretty poor germination. And the other issue is this heat mat doesn't regulate itself. So there was one night I forgot to turn it off before I went to bed and I came home and I came downstairs in the morning and two-thirds of my peppers, I actually think I had one of those stress dreams where you wake up at 3:00 AM and you realize you didn't you didn't do something you were supposed to. And that I have fortunately, my friend had over planted peppers, so I was left with a reasonable amount of peppers for my garden. But the other thing I did was I totally burned by linoleum floor. There was there was a big dark spot there afterwards. And I share that story just to say that you can make mistakes and it's not the end of the world. And the other benefit about seed starting is is now we have such access to different varieties. A lot of local farms will sell varieties that they're growing. That if you do have a chaotic disaster like this where you lose a lot of them, you can do it better the next year and you can go to your farmer and support them and, and find some interesting varieties. True. So. Very good. Thanks for sharing. Of course. How we learn through those challenges, right? That we learn for sure And then I know Isabel was going to share. Yes. So this is what I have. It's not actually my photo. It's from Christopher Imler, one of our colleagues. But do you know what's going on here? Becca? Looks like a germinating mess. A lot of sprouts. Is he growing sprouts? It was for sprouts, but here's the key piece here. Do you guys see the mold? Yeah. Yeah. Which could have been from oversaturation of air. Not enough air, and a little dense. Yeah. Pretty common thing that shows up. When starting seeds. And Becca do you have any recommendations for kind of dealing with mold? Well, I always try and say prevention is the best medicine. So you especially want to be careful. I don't do so many sprouts but I do like to eat those. I mean, I love them. But so again, making sure that everything is clean, then you shouldn't have any any issues. When I was working in the greenhouse and now when I do it in my home, I don't run into those issues simply because you don't overcrowd. If you're reusing containers, you make sure that they're clean, get rid of any soil or seed mix. And then again, you sterilize and then making sure that there's a proper air flow. That's they'd be my best suggestion. Good. Helpful. Thank you. I think we can go into a few questions from the group. I know we've scattered a couple folks', but there's quite a bit of questions about lighting with seedlings. Some questions about distance of hanging lights from seedlings and kind of how to, how to manage that height. So if you can speak to that a little bit as well as how many hours a day do seedlings need. Not just when germinating cuz I know you said they don't need light to germinate. If you think of seeds below the surface, they're not getting that light. But how much how much light do they need once they're plants? Sure. Yes. So you really can't get too close. You don't want to put it right on the leaves of your plants. But again, like an inch as close as you can without putting it right on, on your plants. And then you will have to slowly move it up as, as they're growing. And now remember too, that once the first set of true leaves come out, you can be thinking of transplanting those too. And so they'll need a larger container because you want to get them stronger and sturdier. And I would say, you know, probably ten hours, eight to ten hours of of lighting for them. Now. And we also got a question about containers. So people who really have a smaller space to work with, do you have any suggestions for, for different varieties of seeds to start? Maybe in like those animal food containers that you showed? Oh, yeah. Well, yeah. The animal ones are right in my background here. We have, let us, we have bok choy. So lettuces are great in there and then even in my garden, or it would work in containers too, I like to promote the use of maybe onions. I usually use the sets. I do the easy way with onions, but planting onions in amongst your lettuce or your greens is an excellent way. You can have a little lettuce salad. I usually would harvest them before they're mature. As a green onions, we can chop the whole thing up and put it in with your lettuce or your bok choy. So those are great things. You can check for those cultivars that are for containers like or patio, like there's patio tomatoes. There's a lot of neat ones coming out on the market. One of the vegetable educators showed me this corn and I, I think I want to try that too see if it's successful because it's just tiny, tiny little thing on the container. So I want to see because normally we say, you know, well you need four rows to get it to, to tassel and to pollinate there. But they even have those that they're promoting out there, but definitely look for the smaller varieties. You can even get cucumbers that are more bush type for neat for a container. And I will say we had a, we actually featured container gardening last year on our series and have a video of that with one of our other colleagues so we can share that link in the follow-up email for folks who are interested in thinking more about container gardening and some of those small areas and what to do on concrete. Yeah. Go ahead, Isabel, too. Yeah. That's going to say just to go back to what you were saying about transplanting when they have their true leaves. Somebody asked if you could give, I guess, and a description of what the true leaves are. Here. We'll use a tomato again because it's very popular, but it'd be similar with a, with a pepper or other, what we call dicots. Which are easier. But the first, first green leaves that you see are actually called seed leaves. And so there, that's there already within the seed and they have the nourishment that allows that seed to germinate and pop up. And then the true leaves are going to be the second set of leaves. And they're typically not just a round leaf, they're going to be more, more jagged. And after time, those first leaves that popped up, they're going to dry off and just wither, wither away because the plant, doesn't need them anymore. So that, that's how I can. Because the ones that come after those first two leaves, That's right. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's helpful. Yeah. And then we did have a question about winter sewing, which is starting seeds outdoors. And I'm wondering if you can speak at all to winter. So I things like tomatoes and peppers and December, January. Do you ever do any of that? I'm not outdoors, not up here. It's hard to get to the dirt at this time of year. So yeah, yeah. But those that have, you know, have a hoop house that can keep your ground clear of snow. We can be very successful with greens like kale. But in order to do that, you need to, you know, provide enough cover. There's probably another cover, maybe even some heat in your hoop house so that the ground doesn't, doesn't freeze. So it'd be very difficult to do that with, with tomatoes with a warmer season. But I know even the student organic farm down in Lansing, they, they have done that with like greens because it's much more successful because they like cooler temperatures. Oh, well Lori is mentioning they're asking about winter containers. Actually about and asking about winter sewing in containers. So they want to started earlier. Again, you need, you need good light. And again, that tomato is gonna get very large. So you wouldn't want to do a large amount of seeds there. And I'd say again, you're number one factor is going to be light cuz the light goes goes really down significantly in fall and through December. All right. Well, I think we're just about at time for today. We wanted to end with the question Rebecca, of what during, what about this is something that you feel like you can share with communities? So the theme of our cabin fever conversations this year is really focused on community. And how are you kinda sharing these practices with communities. So do you have thoughts for how seed starting can be something that people share as a community. I know we are distanced and staying intentionally, staying apart from each other. But any thoughts that you want to share on that? Yeah, sure, well seeds are, seeds are amazing, like I said, and I work with a lot of master gardeners as well, so that's rewarding. But we mentioned, I don't know if we did mention, maybe it was before, the seed saving part of it as well. So that's something that can be passed on. And, you know, if we're planting some of the ones that we can save seed from. I know master gardeners have helped in creating community seed catalogs or organizations is one. And then also the ability to be able to share this. You know, the whole thing of starting seeds with, with children so that they become avid gardeners as well. Those are some examples that I have enjoyed. Awesome as well. Do you have any ways that you shared seed starting with neighbors or friends? I think I like to share seed starting failures. So brave. Yeah, just so I hear it's okay to make mistakes Always a good way to connect the learning process. I think my favorite way I still, I learned to start seeds when I was working on a small farm. So I still kind of sometimes have to take myself out of that. You know, how many tomatoes do I grow for five acres versus how many tomatoes do I grow for my yard? And so I always over plant. But then it's really nice because you have neighbors that you can gift tomato plants to. I gave a couple away last year and folks were generally really excited to not have to do the process of starting it themselves and still be able to have a garden fresh produce and those things. So I think there are a lot of ways to share this. Definitely. That's great. I think this is the end. Then we have a couple questions. I know we didn't get to, but we're going to send some MSU Extension resources in an email follow-up today, which will be our practice for all of these Cabin Fever conversations. Really appreciative to you, Rebecca and Rachel, our interpreter for being with us today and for sharing this time. And appreciate all of you for being here for the first episode and for wading through some some new things we're trying. I know we've got some kinks to work out, so we'll be doing that before the next time. Becca, Isabel, anything you want to add before we end? No, this has been great. Yeah. Just want to say thanks to everybody. Thanks Becca. Thanks Rachel, our interpreter and thanks to everybody who joined us. Very good. Stay warm out there, folks. Yeah, it's great to be with you again. Alright. See you all next week. So next week we have a community partner of ours. We mentioned we are interspersing some of these technical dialogues with community partner conversations. So we're going to be hosting Grant Gliniecki who is another Lansing person that has started to some really amazing, Anishinaabe gardens on the east side of Lansing. So he's going to share how some of his work has been focused on building community among some of the Native American population in our area and share some of his wisdom and knowledge as well because he's got a lot. So we're really jazzed for that. And we'll see you next week at 12:30. Bye all!