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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old April 29, 2022   #856
MrsJustice
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Originally Posted by paradajky View Post
Long story short, how to I safely transplant root-sensitive seedlings like squash and cucumbers out of a small, 72-cell starter with Autozone's FloorDry? I did not start in egg-cartons. Not worried about the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, those will be easy.
I would not use Autozone's Floordry, because I grow Organically. For any root-sensitive vegetables, I would mix a little sand and natural planting soil together around my transplants.
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Old April 30, 2022   #857
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My apologies for asking the question. Thanks for the response.

Apologize for what? It's a good question. Any plant that is sensitive to having it's roots disturbed should be grown in a medium that minimizes root disturbance when transplanted in it's final place in the garden. You can't minimize root disturbance in a medium that is all or high in DE anymore than if you were growing in a medium that was all or high in sand or perlite.


How sensitive are squash and cucumber seedlings to root disturbance? I'm not even sure.
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Old April 30, 2022   #858
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I would not use Autozone's Floordry, because I grow Organically. For any root-sensitive vegetables, I would mix a little sand and natural planting soil together around my transplants.

Pure freshwater DE mined from the earth is as natural as sand. If DE is approved for organic gardening as a finely ground flour for insect control then how could it not be safe for organic gardening in granular form?
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Old May 1, 2022   #859
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Pure freshwater DE mined from the earth is as natural as sand. If DE is approved for organic gardening as a finely ground flour for insect control then how could it not be safe for organic gardening in granular form?
I never said DE was safe for Organic growing. I use one Organic safe method from Natives, and If my sol needs something else I will use Products from Miracle-Gro Products like "Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics" that I learn to trust like Natives from Hawaii. I do not get any help from anyone, so I will communicate the best products I use to everyone here, as I was helped here by Dr. Carolyn and Everyone since 2006, Amen!!

I hope Miracle-Gro does not mind me stating the products I use.
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Old May 1, 2022   #860
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Mrs. J: FloorDry from autozone is 100% natural DE. You are welcome to read the whole thread if you are interested in using DE as a seed starting medium and learning about its benefits and drawbacks. There are nearly 900 posts in this thread



Ray: your answer to my question is helpful in teaching those who are thinking about this process with root-sensitive seeds, and why they should try other methods, so they can avoid the mistake I made. When I posted my question, I had already sowed the seeds in DE. As such, I was looking for ideas on how to safely transplant them into either their final destination or an intermediary pot with regular potting mix, now that they've germinated since I realized the mistake. I was probably not clear about that. Would be easy to resow properly if I had more of the seeds, but I do not.



The trays have a hole in the bottom, I'll just try sticking something from below and maybe they'll pop out in one go once they are ready, and hope for the best.




EDIT: to clarify, I'm trying to figure out how to get the cucumber and squash seedlings out of the seed starting tray filled with DE, with minimal disruption to the roots.

Last edited by paradajky; May 1, 2022 at 01:13 PM.
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Old May 3, 2022   #861
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I always seen it said that cucurbits were sensitive to root disturance, but I've never experimented to find out how true that is. Even if you started them in trays or plastic pots with a peat or coco based medium, you'd still be disturbing roots to a degree when transplanting.

Aside from direct seeding, to get an early start before consistently warm weather comes and frost is no longer a threat I've always started cukes and squash in peat pots to avoid disturbing the roots when transplanting.
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Old May 3, 2022   #862
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I always read that one should direct-sow certain crops (corn, peas, squash and other cucurbits, and root crops), but aside from root crops, I have often started these "sow directly only" crops in containers for later transplanting. This is because I have had too many frustrating experiences with something killing my sown-direct seedlings. I have just transplanted five types of peas which I started in cowpots (which disintegrate better than peat in my experience and are made in my state).
Last year something decapitated my corn seedlings--didn't dig up the seed and didn't eat the shoot! I transplanted the next corn planting after that. Had never done so before but it worked fine and I had a good harvest.
@paradajky I think 72-cells are way too small for squash and other cucurbits. That, plus the crumbly nature of DE, makes transplanting a challenge. I was thinking perhaps there was something you could pour into the cell to make the DE "sticky" or even somewhat solidify, but materials like gelatin or agar need temperatures that your seedlings would not like. (Agar is used in plant culture and roots grow in it quite happily, but it is solidified before the roots ever touch it.) Maybe pectin would work? It's soluble in cold water and makes things sticky.
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Old May 4, 2022   #863
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FWIW, in the past I've helped my parents plant cucumbers and zucchini seedlings they purchased from the nursery with no problems. My mom would crunch up and mangle the rootball to loosen it a bit, and there were no issues that I could recall. So maybe my oversensitivity here is that I don't have any seeds left I do not want to derail this topic from germinating seeds in DE to discussing cucurbits, et all, so let's leave it at that for now






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Originally Posted by DK2021 View Post
@paradajky I was thinking perhaps there was something you could pour into the cell to make the DE "sticky" or even somewhat solidify, but materials like gelatin or agar need temperatures that your seedlings would not like. (Agar is used in plant culture and roots grow in it quite happily, but it is solidified before the roots ever touch it.) Maybe pectin would work? It's soluble in cold water and makes things sticky.


This is an interesting idea..! Other thoughts would be flax/chia seeds, which gel up in contact with water after a bit (I'd grind them first, so they would not germinate). I have a few empty cell to test this.. and if it works, I can try with one or two cucumbers since I have plenty of those. The more precious sprouts, I'm just going to soak it so the DE clumps together, then push from the bottom. I may also try cutting out the plastic cell, and then carry that to the final destination, and either poke holes in it for roots to grow out of, or, try to cut away the plastic.


Let's consider this idea "solved" for now, and I'll report back if anything interesting happens. Mostly for entertainment, but also in case someone else happens to do what I've done in the future and they come back to read this.


Thanks for the help
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Old May 4, 2022   #864
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The Tomato plants were starting to look unhappy in those small cells, so a few days ago I started potting them up. As you can see from the pictures, the roots of the tomato seedlings grown in the DE were long, thicker, and fibrous. It was a lot easier to separate the seedlings in the DE than in the Jiffy Mix. It took a lot of massaging of the Jiffy Mix roots to minimize damage so I could get a fair comparison.
I think next time I do this, bigger cells would work better. I didn't expect the roots of the plants in the DE to get this huge. Anyway they are all looking much happier now that they are separated and potted up with lots of room to stretch.
Going back and reading this forum from the beginning, it is good to learn that DE can be used by people that enjoy DE. Yes, it can be used for people's survival methods if we were in a war or a natural disaster. I still would not trade in my Miracle-Gro Planting Soil. I am trying Pitt-Mott for the first time this year on Shepard Mallory Muscadine GrapeVine requested by a Local Pastor following his Growing Methods he wants me to use.
But I still want my Miracle-Gro, Amen!!. I guess it's easy to use for Female Farmers like me, and a Safe product for the Native Americans who mix this product with their own yard dirt.
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Last edited by MrsJustice; May 4, 2022 at 11:34 PM.
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Old May 22, 2022   #865
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A follow-up. I transplanted the five-week old squash and cucumbers from DE to their final resting places. One of two squash plants and two of five cucumber seedlings came out easy from the starter tray as they all had strong set of roots wrapped up along the bottom. Everything else was a stressful mess, where I used a knife to shimmy in and under. Some roots were left behind. I did not do any trickery with gelatin, agar, chia seeds, etc.

Today, the day after, all the squash and cucumbers look great. Pictured: squash seedling root-bound and two squash in final containers.

In the same starter tray with DE:

- 13 of 16 tomatoes germinated (no go with 2xtaz chocolate, 1x amalfi orange, oh well)
- only 3 of 16 peppers germinated but all three had messed up tops (see bottom right image... any idea what happened?), so I'm trying them again, this time in regular 4" pots.

- 6 of 8 eggplants germinated (2x Ao eggplants did not make it).


I've never grown eggplant. It took 2.5 weeks for them to germinate, and I decided to try to up-pot them yesterday (total five weeks), but they had almost no roots. They seem okay so far, maybe just slower growing. Perhaps I should've given them longer.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg kveta next day.jpg (290.5 KB, 75 views)
File Type: jpg pepper brown top.jpg (176.3 KB, 74 views)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #866
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I have successfully transplanted squash and cucumbers from DE to other pots and into the garden directly with no problems. I just wet the DE an hour before transplanting and scoop them out with a spoon or knife.

I prefer DE for starting tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and spinach. I later move all of them except lettuce into a small cup with potting soil. For larger faster growing things like cucumbers, squash and beans I prefer to start them in the pots with potting soil since they get larger faster and require more room and watering. I rarely if ever have any damping off problems with my seedlings planted in DE unless I leave them in a watering tray keeping them soaked. I used to have major problems especially with tomatoes damping off in potting soil or other potting mixtures.

One thing that I have found that DE is especially good for is starting onion seed. I use a fairly large pot and fill it with a mix of medium size DE and the smaller sand size DE and sow the seeds heavily. I have to be very careful when fertilizing them to not disturb the small seedlings but once they get four or five inches tall they have a good root system and are not disturbed as easily by top feeding. Once they get to the size I want I let the DE get fairly dry and pull the whole clump of seedlings and the DE out and shake the DE off the roots. It works much better than trying to separate onion seedlings that are densely planted in potting soil. My success with onions improved dramatically once I figured out how to do this.

Bill
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Old 1 Week Ago   #867
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Bill, DE has been my go-to with onion seeds for several years now. I've also had huge success with densely sown lettuce seeds in DE. The DE does not dry out as quickly as other seed starting mixes and, as you found, the roots are easy to tease apart when planting out.
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