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I was wondering how many here raises their garden plants from seed? Do you raise mostly from seed or purchase plants?
If you raise from seed how do you go about starting them? give tips on your best way of germinating seed. Do you save your own seed from year to year? also mention how you save seed as far as drying, storing them until the planting season. I for one , every plant in my garden was raised from seed I started, some were "winter sown" some were started under lights, in a soiless mix. I made my own bottom heat for starting seed, which really makes a difference, instead of 10-15 days germinating they germinate in as little as 3 days! I grew my own sweet potato slips, not with the standard water in a glass with toothpicks, but I built a "heat box" that stays a 80-85 degrees, using a small tupperware plastic box, aluminum foil, sand, and a piece of rope light that is totally water proof. the potatoes started sprouting in a few days and had 2-4 inch sprouts in less then 2 weeks. I just thought this might be an interesting thread on seed starting, and we could all swap ideas..
 

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Hey Errol,

Great questions! The only thing I don't start from seed are tomato plants. I really don't have a reason why. Most of the time when I go seed shopping, the plants are just sitting there and there are just so many that I have to pick-up a few. Anyway, I saved bush bean seeds from last year's plants. I allowed the seeds to grow big and dry right in the pod. Then, I shelled them and placed them in a brown paper bag that I stored in a old dresser that I have in the basement. I am glad to say that I am already harvesting delicious green beans!

I have done a few new things this year as far as seed starting goes. For example, I bought a few seed starting kits. I usually by those small foam cups from the dollar store (about 50 cups for $1) and put a soiless mix in to start my seeds. That method is totally cost effective and I can reuse the cups. For my bottom heat, I used the top of my refrigerator and placed a seed starting tray on top of my cable box. My husband thought I had gone crazy when I had a seed starting kit on all 4 of our cable boxes. I must say they have done the trick and I didn't have to buy some expensive contraption.

Sometimes, I would germinate my larger seeds in plastic baggies with a damp paper towel. I like to show my children various methods of starting seeds. As a mother and educator, I always try to make every moment a teachable one. Once those seeds have sprouted the kids would plant them accordingly.

I am always thinking of some kind of way to save money.
 

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I start the majority from seed or a get seedlings from my neighbor who has a greenhouse and always ends up with more starts than she needs.

This year I planted Sugar Snap peas, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, radishses, cucs and bush beans from seed.

I bought starts for zucchini, tomatos, peppers, and I bought an artichoke start this year. I've never tried artichoke before. and my mom gave me a couple watermelons she started from seed also.

I don't really do anything special or different when I start from seed. In the spring I get a truck load (2 yds) of compost/cow-manure blend from a local organic dairy farm, dump it in the garden, rototill it in and then after about a week or two of it sitting and being watered down a bit, then I plant the seeds directly in the soil.
 

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I started everything from seed this year. I tried making "soil blocks" which seemed to work pretty well. Using a bottom heater sounds like a good idea. What did you use if you don't mind me asking.

This year I also tried growing celery which I just started harvesting today. It is so much better than the stuff in the store! It actually has some flavor. Anyway I use a lot of very old cow manure, a little top soil, a little sand, some peat moss, and a little bit of lime for my soil blocks. Also instead of buying the expensive soil block makers, I went to the store and bought some Tupperware containers, cut the lids so the slid inside the container, cut a hole in the bottom of the container and the lid. Then I put a long bolt with a nut near the end through the container and lid. Next I but a nut on the inside to hold the lid in place. Worked great!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Sadye, the way I made my homemade bottom heater I bought a 4ft x 20inch wide plastic box at a yard sale. it has 12 inch sides. I then put aluminum foil in the bottom shiney side up. I went to lowes and bought a 12 ft rope light (clear). I then ran it around inside the box on top of the foil. then I put in a couple inches of fine sand (playsand) with a 1/2 inch hole cut in the side or end I ran the power cord out side the box. the lights are water proof. then I just set my trays of seeds on top. the temperature of the heat stays around 72-76 degrees. most seeds will sprout in 3-5 days instead of 14-20 days. I also made a smaller version of this for growing sweet potato slips
 
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