With so many other things on my To-Do Lists, I had a very late start in the greenhouse this year. I didn’t get to sowing seeds in flats until mid April and some even later and I think the plants are better for it. We have fewer pests than ever before, (white fly, green fly, aphids) and, so far, no damping off of tender seedlings.
Another thing I did differently was to rely on the normal fluctuating daytime and nighttime temperatures instead of artificially controlling the germination environment by supplying bottom heat to the flats. The results have been surprising. We’ve had some seriously hot days, when the temps in the greenhouse rose to 95 F and above, and some frigid days and nights where the mercury barely rose above freezing and we haven’t noticed any negative effect on the germination rates or times.
One of the rules I’ve been wanting to break for a very long time is that of starting seeds in soilless mix, instead of potting soil. I had the opportunity to do it. We ran out of vermiculite and peat and so I used potting soil. I’m tempted to say that I’ll never worry about using a soiless mix again. (Of course, this may come back to haunt me). I have experienced no problems with this alteration. Au contraire, because potting soil contains nutrients the seedlings seem to be healthier than ever before, and, perhaps I’m speaking too soon, but, those that are subject to damping off have not done so at all. The obvious advantage to this new discovery is that ‘potting on’ is not as urgent as it had been previously when using a soiless mix; there are enough nutrients in the growing medium to encourage healthy growth without having to force-feed with emergency dilutions of fish emulsion.
Purists may want to give this a try.