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Seedlings w/100% gritty mix (Final UPDATE)

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Seedlings w/100% gritty mix (Final UPDATE)

Postby Sharpy » Tue May 01, 2012 7:50 pm

Hey folks, (this may get a little lengthy, lol)

Background -

I'm completely new to starting from seed, but have read a LOT of articles/threads on this subject. I have around 1000 Parodi Haselberghii seeds that I got from my plant. Using these to mess around with and work out my problems before I start the stuff I paid for.

I sowed 2 batches of 20 in 2.25" round plastic containers. Filled 80% of the container with 50/50 1/8"Turface/ ~1/8" Coarse sand, then top coat with ~1/8" layer of Turface fines (1/16" or less). Seeds are germinated on top. No cover layer.

The first container had 0/20, the second had 5/20. This is when I learned that you have to let the seeds dry out first to remove the anti-germination coating #-o (thanks to this forum)

Getting ready to sow another batch with the now well dried seeds.

One of the few that sprouted. 2 weeks old.

DSC03923.JPG
Parodi Haselberghii 2 weeks old
DSC03923.JPG (44.81 KiB) Viewed 3485 times


Will be changing my setup over to a germination tray in the next week, and possibly a heat mat. Temperature fluctuates from 76-86F daily. Also providing 24 hour light at the moment.


And now for the questions..lol

1) Is a 24 hour light cycle really a bad thing? Or do you really need them to have a night time sleep?

2) I have read here that some people suggest possibly 90F in the daytime and ~72F at night. So is a heat mat really a requirement? I can raise the daytime temp just altering how I have the lighting set up and using it for the heat source, but this isn't guaranteeing I am getting the mix to that temp all the way to the bottom.

3) Since I am on a completely zero organic mix, what would be the appropriate time to start applying? And how often? Planning on 1/5 strength mix (Foliage Pro 9-3-6)

Last question :P

4) Fertilizer application - Soak the container from bottom up in the solution, or spray bottle top application? Not sure if the seedlings can take a foliage feeding at this stage.


I realize this is a bit much in a single post, but I think its still covering the basic topic.

Really looking forward to seeing the input on this :)

Thanks a lot for taking the time to look at this

Cheers
Last edited by Sharpy on Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby iann » Tue May 01, 2012 8:38 pm

You don't necessarily have to dry out cactus seeds, or many succulents. There are plenty that will germinate just great straight out of the fruit. Some definitely don't germinate properly when fresh though, and it can take more than a couple of days in the sun before they're ready. If you get nothing in sensible time, and you care enough about the seed, let the pot dry out and store it fro a few months, then try again.

1. Certainly cycling the lights isn't a bad thing. A daily cycle of light is important for cacti and many succulents, but seedlings seem to do well enough (for a while!) under 24 hour light. I germinate with 4-6 hours of darkness and then increase it gradually. Partly this is a way for me to control the temperature variations since I heat solely using the lights.

2. 90F is perhaps a little warm for most cactus seeds, certainly warm enough to prevent some germinating. Also some would like it cooler than 72F at night although that's fine for many. Are your seeds at the bottom of the pot? If not then you probably don't need to worry too much about what the temperature is down there ;) Not sure about P. haselbergii but I'd guess the ideal would be a little cooler.

3. Beats me. You can germinate in anything wet but I don't know how to make seedlings grow without soil. As soon as seedlings are green they can start using fertiliser and if there isn't any in the soil then you'll have to add it yourself. Certainly once the seed leaves are gone then you'd better be fertilising them or they won't grow well.

4. Possibly the most argued-about and least important cultivation question in the world ;)
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Tue May 01, 2012 9:54 pm

iann wrote:You don't necessarily have to dry out cactus seeds, or many succulents. There are plenty that will germinate just great straight out of the fruit.


Great information, I will sow a batch that has had a longer dry time and find out for myself.

iann wrote:90F is perhaps a little warm for most cactus seeds, certainly warm enough to prevent some germinating. Also some would like it cooler than 72F at night although that's fine for many.


Will go for a range more in the 72-85F range then.

iann wrote:As soon as seedlings are green they can start using fertiliser and if there isn't any in the soil then you'll have to add it yourself. Certainly once the seed leaves are gone then you'd better be fertilising them or they won't grow well.


Ok, then i will start applying this weekend, on a 1-2 week schedule. Like I said, they are test batches. And will also fertilize from a spray bottle. Unless the plants cant take the contact with the fertilizer, it should be a better situation to fertilize from top down since the roots are so short anyways.

Just trying to fine tune and shorten the learning curve on this. Any time I get a quality answer to a question I feel like I owe someone money..lol So used to learning woodworking and every time you "learn" something, it costs you money :wink:

Thanks
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby iann » Wed May 02, 2012 11:23 am

Today's little gem for free: once you grow from seed you'll always have too many plants ;)
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby mughal113 » Wed May 02, 2012 1:36 pm

iann wrote:Today's little gem for free: once you grow from seed you'll always have too many plants ;)


I can assure Iann is right. I gathered a lot of seeds from my astros (around 1000) and most of them have germinated. They seem to be just too many to take care of.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Wed May 02, 2012 10:53 pm

I realized today that part of the germination % problem is probably the fact that I pulled the seed pods to soon. Pulled them when they turned solid black, BUT never let them open on their own.

There is still a huge pod left on the plant and I will wait for this one to pop on its own. Guessing this will make a big difference. Have to admit I am trying to push things to fast and in "cacti land" that's a recipe for disaster. I can definitely be OCD when digging into a hobby 8-[

So switched around the set-up today. Got a germination tray but had to leave the lid off because the temperature was getting to high. Fine balance between lighting distance and maintaining the temp you want. Cut out the corner of a sandwich bag and made a small tent for the batch not in a bag.

Temp is running around 84F now.

Wanted to get a double bulb 3' fluorescent but the local depot doesn't carry them now for some odd reason. So using the ones I had on hand. (2) 18" 15w. I think 30w will be good enough for the small space for now. Will watch for elongation.

Germination setup-1.JPG
Set-up Ver. 2.0
Germination setup-1.JPG (41.08 KiB) Viewed 3411 times


At least now have better control over light distance. Lights are 3" from surface.

May drill some 1" vent holes in the plywood top so I can lower the height and still maintain a proper temp. If I can achieve enough ventilation then I could add some foil to the sides and back to reflect more in. But waiting to see the sprout color before I go for more intensity. (trying my best to slooooow down, think like a catus, lol)
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby apfire » Fri May 04, 2012 6:16 pm

There are so many ways of germinating seeds. I have been using loam(dirt) out of my yard. I sterilize it and throw the seeds on top. I use the same black seed tray to put my pots in. I keep about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom and I keep the clear top on.
Image
Image
The pots with the different seeds have holes in the bottom to keep the soil constantly moist. I keep them like this until it is time to let them dry out more. I grow them in my greenhouse where the temp varies from near 100 to 68 degrees so far this year.
I would assume that once your seeds establish roots they will need to get nourishment in your mix.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby cactushobbyman » Sat May 05, 2012 2:21 am

apfire wrote:There are so many ways of germinating seeds. I have been using loam(dirt) out of my yard. I sterilize it and throw the seeds on top. I use the same black seed tray to put my pots in. I keep about 1/4 inch of water in the bottom and I keep the clear top on. The pots with the different seeds have holes in the bottom to keep the soil constantly moist. I keep them like this until it is time to let them dry out more. I grow them in my greenhouse where the temp varies from near 100 to 68 degrees so far this year. I would assume that once your seeds establish roots they will need to get nourishment in your mix.



My greenhouse has about the same range of temps. now. I have a lot of plant trays and I will try your method. We had a mini heat wave of 95+ two weeks ago and fried some of my seedlings in my grow tank. I covered my greenhouse with shade cloth and moved all my seedlings into the greenhouse. I was three weeks late on covering the greenhouse; I was working on my sunroom. :idea:
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Sun May 06, 2012 9:43 pm

cactushobbyman wrote:We had a mini heat wave of 95+ two weeks ago and fried some of my seedlings in my grow tank. I covered my greenhouse with shade cloth and moved all my seedlings into the greenhouse. I was three weeks late on covering the greenhouse; I was working on my sunroom. :idea:


Sorry to hear that :(

apfire, I like your method. And I see your point about how many methods there are. I'm gonna work the one I am currently trying, and see if I can get all the bugs worked out. New lighting coming soon. Definitely need more intensity and reflection, and also want to increase the height by about a inch so I can get the top on the germination tray without heat issues.

Sowed 3 new batches, and yes small batches (heard its better to sow larger groups for better success?)

A.Asterias S.K. (6)
A.Myriostigma Purple Nudum (10)
Steno.Multicostatum (12)

Pretty sure I'm making this harder then it needs to be, by starting batches at different times. Thinking about finding the smallest baggy I can, that just fits around a 2" pot, for a mini tent for each container.

Started fertilizing with 1/4 strength solution 2 days ago. Gonna repeat every 7-10 days, if this isn't to often. (Only fert. the 3 week or older stuff)
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Mon May 14, 2012 11:34 pm

Updated setup

Enough room for (2) 1020 trays and (2) T12 40W bulbs. Plenty of reflection, had some leftover 1/4" ply that had a white formica layer.

Couple picks of the seedlings also.

Setup Ver.3 -1.JPG
Setup Ver.3 -1.JPG (53.22 KiB) Viewed 3272 times


Setup Ver.3 -2.JPG
Setup Ver.3 -2.JPG (43.19 KiB) Viewed 3272 times


Setup Ver.3 -3.JPG
Setup Ver.3 -3.JPG (44.5 KiB) Viewed 3272 times


PHaselbergii 5-14-12.JPG
PHaselbergii 5-14-12.JPG (291.71 KiB) Viewed 3272 times


S. Multicostatum 5-14-12.JPG
S. Multicostatum 5-14-12.JPG (278.89 KiB) Viewed 3272 times


Need a better macro camera.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby iann » Tue May 15, 2012 1:10 pm

Look how bright it is! Ever thought that light would be more useful to the seedlings? Why not completely enclose the whole thing. It looks like you could lift it easy enough whenever you need access.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Tue May 15, 2012 7:31 pm

Will have a lot of temperature issues if i enclose the ends unfortunately. I had it running for a few hours yesterday, without those vent holes, and it was trying to go over the 90F mark. After the vents its down to a more manageable 85F top temp. The only way I could enclose the ends and still maintain a descent temperature would be to crank my air conditioner down about 5 degrees which will = a huge electric bill. The bill is nasty enough with the kill temperatures here :(

Yep I am losing some light out the ends, but don't believe it to be that much in the grand scheme of things. The reflection inside is looking really good imo :D

If I still can't get the seedlings to turn red at all, then will look into other options for enclosing it more and probably have to add a micro fan at one end, or both ends, to pull the excess heat out.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby iann » Tue May 15, 2012 7:51 pm

PC fans run a couple of dollars. Cheaper than using an extra fluorescent tube to get the light intensity you need ;)

Another technique you can use in your next incarnation is to use more efficient electronic ballasts. More light, less electricity, less waste heat. 40W T12s are just about the most inefficient lights you can get. A good T8 on an electronic ballast would use about 20% less electricity and give about 50% more light. Imagine what less waste heat would do for your A/C bill :)

You can also move the ballasts outside the enclosed area so they aren't adding to the heat load. Or simply creating a larger enclosed volume should drop the temperature a lot, and since the light isn't going anywhere you won't lose much intensity even if you have the lights a foot or more away from the plants.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby Sharpy » Tue May 15, 2012 9:51 pm

All very good points, thanks. Moving the ballast had crossed my mind. For now I will make due with what I've created. Gonna find a small fan for the one end and blow it through. Probably move the ballast up top. And drop the lights about 2 inches.

I would really hope that 80 watts, that close, would be enough to get the job done.

But probably the best thing so far, is that I have not killed the seedlings from fertilizing yet. :thumbright:

Imo this mix has a lot of pros and very little cons. And I can deal with figuring out a fertilizing schedule. I have two batches of the Parodia on different schedules. Gonna find out where the "wall" is, as in to much fert.
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Re: Seedlings w/100% gritty mix

Postby iann » Tue May 15, 2012 10:22 pm

Seeds will germinate in polystyrene balls if you keep them wet. Or just stuck to the damp side of a plastic pot as I've found out when I was a bit sloppy where I sowed them ](*,) The tricky bit is then growing them on fast enough to reach a robust size, but without killing them along the way.
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