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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 March 28, 2019   #1
NarnianGarden
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Default First Time with Jiffy Pellets

Hi all: This year, I am attempting to use jiffy pellets (peat) and did manage the watering project. Still, no sight of any life, although the first seeds were sown a week ago. No, they haven't dried out... but I have read some criticism over the years about the various challenges these pellets may present, so I am asking all of you experts if there is anything you could tell me I need to pay attention to.

Is it normal for seeds to take longer before they germinate when sown in jiffy pellets? Something in the materials or the method which may delay growth?
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Old March 28, 2019   #2
mikemansker
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I've used them successfully in the past. The germination didn't seem any slower than normal. I do think you have to pay more attention to how deep you are planting them in the pellets.



If they are in a covered tray under lights and on a heat mat, it should be pretty much like germinating in potting mix.
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Old March 28, 2019   #3
NarnianGarden
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No heated mat, they're in normal room temperature under the plastic dome. That is how I always started my seeds before. I guess the material is a bit trickier and it is not easy to push the seeds into it.. Should another week go by without results, I will re-sow (yep, that is a sure way to get all seeds pop up at once...), and maybe even sow some varieties into potting mix for back-up.
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Old March 28, 2019   #4
slugworth
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instead of water I make them expand with a liquid fertilizer.
For me they take longer also,my theory is they are cooler than a
normal cell with soil due to the evaporation from the pellet during the day.
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Old March 28, 2019   #5
ChiliPeppa
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I've used Jiffy pellets for years with no problems. I used coir pellets this year for the first time. They're even better than the Jiffy pellets and cheaper too.
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Old March 28, 2019   #6
Foose4string
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Not sure what advice I can lend except don’t use them. Not a fan.
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Old March 28, 2019   #7
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Do they still come covered in that awful netting material? Used them years ago but stopped cuz that netting was still wrapped around the roots at the end of the season. They did not decompose.
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Old March 29, 2019   #8
AlittleSalt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foose4string View Post
Not sure what advice I can lend except don’t use them. Not a fan.
Quote:
Originally Posted by peebee View Post
Do they still come covered in that awful netting material? Used them years ago but stopped cuz that netting was still wrapped around the roots at the end of the season. They did not decompose.
I agree with both of you. I had some left and tossed them into the burning pile years ago.
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Old March 29, 2019   #9
taboule
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peebee View Post
Do they still come covered in that awful netting material? Used them years ago but stopped cuz that netting was still wrapped around the roots at the end of the season. They did not decompose.
Best practice is to remove that netting when planting out. Even if they did decompose, it wouldn't be fast enough during one season. Same with those "cardboard" peat pots, always best to peel them off.

I've used them extensively over the years -and still do. There are (at least) 2 types of netting. The best is a very thin mesh, honeycomb-like, with a set or vertical perforations on the side, making it super easy to unzip the case and discard the netting. This is typically on the VERY large pucks by Jiffy.

Then there is a type of random, tight weave mesh made from either kevlar (i'm not making this up ) or a tougher material that's nearly impossible to tear by hand -you'd need scissors or better. I make sure I stay away from those.

Note that Jiffy pucks are made of peat, and many folks report trouble germinating peppers in them due to their chemistry. I'm beginning to conclude the same, as I've never had much luck with that combination. For many other situations, pucks can be handy.
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Old March 29, 2019   #10
NarnianGarden
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Foose & AlittleSalt, that sure doesn't sound encouraging

But hooray! The first one has come alive! Not all hope is lost. Am well aware about the netting problem and will remove all of that before re-potting the seedlings.
It's an experiment I took upon me in order to avoid buying heavy bags of soil... which I'll eventually do for the latter stage. So many people seem to happily use them, so they cannot be all bad (except the enviromental issue of course which is removable)
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Old March 29, 2019   #11
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Jiffy pellets aren't my favorite seed starting option. You can grow things in them but they aren't that stable when your seedlings get some growth and you need to transplant sooner than you do with seeds grown in flats.

You didn't say what you had planted or how fresh the seed was, but if you Google germination time it's easy to find tables that tell Yo 7-10 days at 75 F or something similar. Older see dwill take longer and it all reaches the point where germination rates are low to no germination at some point.

Jiffy plugs shouldn't alter germination times but how moist they're kept, temperature, and if they're covered to retain humidity can all effect germination times. If you only start a few plants a year there might be a role for them in your garden. If you start enough seed that you have considered heat mats and or grow lights you'll probably just want to order some trays ans inserts from a greenhouse supply store and use a good seed starting mix.
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Old March 29, 2019   #12
brownrexx
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I don't like them either but this year I bought a few of them so that I can start some cucumber and zucchini about 2 weeks earlier than I would plant them in the ground. I did not want to transplant them so I bought some peat pellets. I will cut off the netting before planting.
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Old March 29, 2019   #13
NarnianGarden
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Oldman: I hadn't mentioned it but they are all tomatoes (I had thought it to be obvious) :-)
And, as mentioned, I have sowed tomato seeds many times before, of various ages, and usually there is life within a week (often within a few days) so it is not for lack of experience.

Heat mats or extra lighting aren't an option, and I have not needed any of them befoe (nor do I have space for them) as I try to keep things very simple. That usually works well and seeds like to come alive.
Glad to know that I need to re-pot the seedlinga sooner than usually.. will keep it in mind and get some used and washed cartons for them.
We'll see how it goes..
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Old March 29, 2019   #14
oakley
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I find them pretty handy as well as coir bricks. I always have them on hand. Since I grow
year round indoors and seed inside, they are compact and less likely to dust the indoor
environment.
I don't use them for small seed like tomatoes but perfect for dwarf sunflowers and early
spring peas, beans, squash, etc.
Larger seed root systems will bust right through the mesh no problem.

Our Spring can be cold and very wet often tragic for direct sowing of seed that is said to
not like transplanting like a pea. At the same time I direct sow peas, I start a couple dozen
in peat pellets. 7 out of ten times the direct sown either rot or are food for birds and such.
The head start in the pellets really helps me get going...then succession planting by
direct sowing weekly is a good combination. Same with the winter and summer squash.

I grow tomatoes densely, 5+ seeds per cell and many varieties. Would not make sense for
me to use pellets.

Don't love them but I would not worry about success rate. Same as any other cell system.
And the mesh just needs a couple simple pulls to ripe it open before re-potting.
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Old March 30, 2019   #15
greenthumbomaha
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When I worked in a nursing home, I used peat pellets to start basil seeds. I had low to no expectations, but was proven wrong. A resident had a very nice collection of various basil varieties growing on her window sill, and took in foster plants from the other ladies too. Her secret was that she kept them in the original foam bowl and bottom watered every day. I fed with a little blue stuff once in a while. They were a big hit with the care that they received.


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