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Alan in Vermont

New Member
I've been mother henning a bunch of seed starts. Along with two full trays of onions(first attempt at them) there are six varieties if tomatoes, cauliflower(another first try), two varieties of cabbage, mixed sweet peppers, and some broccoli.

I was thinking I would sort out some of the cells of onions and replace then with more broc. but I'm not sure that is going to work. On the other hand I'm not sure the onions are doing at all well so the whole bunch may be a bust.

I'm also going to try seeding some broc in my outdoor hotbed and maybe even direct sow some to try to lengthen the crop for market.


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WOW...I so want spring ...looks like you have alot of work ahead...but I know it will be good work...
From my experience with starting onions from seed, that is pretty much how they all look. It has been a looooong time since I did onions from seed, I guess about 25 years. Don't get discouraged with them.
When is your last frost date? I am kind of counting on April 28th here, as that is a full moon. Last frost date in this area 9 years ago was May 15th, but the climate has changed.
That's reassuring to know about the onions. I wanted to try starting them myself after we fell in love with Walla Wallas after I bought some started plants last year. They're expensive(IMO) to buy as plants, $17
+ shipping for 120+ plants, seed was somewhere around $3 for a 300 seed packet. (Sometimes I just get cheap). For this year I ordered both seed and plants, just to be safe. There are probably 250 plants started now, not sure how many will get to the ground, time will tell.

According to the Farmers Almanac our average last frost is May 17.
Expensive as plants, but still a lot cheaper than in the grocery store if you don't mind doing the growing. Hey, we all get cheap, my problem is we moved, bought an expensive house with a small lot and terrible soil, so I am buying my sweet onions. Good luck and let us know how they come along.
Jade, try what I am doing, raised beds, that way you can pick and choose what soil goes in. Its better for your back too.

I bought the lumber for it off a cull cart at Home depot, couple packs of screws thirty minutes or so of work and voila. raised bed. cost so far, seeds, soil, peat pots, materials, in $60 range I dont have an exact number because its been from 4 different stores with about five purchases.
James, our raised bed was a flop last year...I don't know why, we had a ton of rain though, and hubby thinks that there was tooooo much organic matter. We are giving ours a try again this year. Our best crop was our Pole beans. I felt like such a failure with that raised bed. I have been raising my own veggies for 30 years and it was by far my worst garden, but I won't be bested by the weather.
Allen in Vermont----------seeing your pictures makes me sad & "envious"(?).
I always started some of my garden plants from seed (tom's, gr.peppers, herbs--etc,) and a few years ago a friend of mine asked if I'd like to start some for him. Being as they had a vegtable "stand" --that meant a LOT of starters! LOL Between his & mine I usually had around 600 (or more) "starters". I would grow them until it was time for them to go into the ground. Mostly did tomatoes & peppers, but also did a few cauliflower,broccoli & cabbage. A very few squash(winter) and some herbs & flowers for me. Then he would plant what he needed, I would plant what I needed and the rest I would either sell or give away. (Think I gave away more than I sold! LOL) But anyway--------I would take my "pay" out in veggies. Excellent arrangement cause I never got enough out of my own garden to can! LOL
However--for the last 3 yrs have not been able to do this and I really miss it! LOL It was a lot of work & worry, but I loved it! Seeing your trays of seedlings reminded me of that and how much I enjoyed it.:D:D
Do you have your own "stand" or do you just sell to the markets?
How about more pictures---love seeing those seedlings grow!! LOL
Gone, ask and ye shall receive! :) I sell through a farmers market in my town and occasionally set up a temporary roadside stand when the corn is in season and I'm getting buried by it.

Right now I have used all the space I have for starting plants. I can only do six standard, 10"x20" (approx) flats. Over the weekend I want to get a load of horse manure so I can keep my hotbed warm. We're still a long month away from setting things out yet. Once I free up some space indoors I will start a second batch of Brocolli and some Cantaloupe. Our season runs a bit close for the melons so I try to get some hot caps over a few places early to warm the soil then set out a few plants and hope they are well established by mid-May. That gains a few weeks on the good hot weather that melons seem to love.

Pics are: Brandywine Red Toms that look a lot like Peppers at this point.

The "field" of Tomatoes, Six varieties, eight plants of each.

My first experiment with Cauliflower


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And then there are onions. This may be a once in a lifetime experiment for me. They go in the ground in four weeks, I sure they get growing before then. Major PITA as they have to be covered after 10-12 hours of light so I can be sure they don'y try to bulb too soon. If I start them again they will be in an enclosure so all I have to is put the lights on a timer and water them. Most of the sprouts have two leaves now but they are so delicate I'm not looking forward to transplanting time.

A couple trays of Broc with a tray of Red Cabbage next to them, on the right.


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Very nice Alan!
Your seedlings are coming along nicely!
They should all be a good size in 4 more weeks!
Thanks for the pics Alan---they're looking great!!! Am watching your onions too----never had the courage to start them from seed myself.:eek:
Explain the "manure to keep the hotbed warm"--- not sure if I'm just having a "seniior moment" here. :eek:;):D
If the weather keeps up as it's going ---we should be able to plant a good 3-4 weeks earlier than usual up here. Am anxious to see how this turns out--- if anyone will take the chance. Last year we had a fairly early planting then got an entire spring of rain!!!!! Very bad year for everyone.:(
Again--thanks for the pics. Please keep us "up to date" with the pics--if you have the time!:)
Alan is using 'old technology' there with the manure, but it is very reliable. The breaking down of the manure causes an exothermic reaction (gives off heat) thereby warming the soil around it. Many times I have looked out and seen steam condensing above the manure pile on a cool winter day.
Thanks for the pics Alan---they're looking great!!! Am watching your onions too----never had the courage to start them from seed myself.:eek:
Explain the "manure to keep the hotbed warm"--- not sure if I'm just having a "seniior moment" here. :eek:;):D

It was once pretty common for gardeners to start seedlings in an outdoor "hotbed", usually a low wooden frame on the ground and covered with old windows. It would sit over a shallow pit filled with fresh horse manure. The manure would generate heat as it decomposed. Quite a lot of heat in fact, I have seen upwards of 150° in the middle of a pile, the pic was taken as it was warming up. That heat will keep the interior of the hotbed nicely comfortable for seedling growth.

I built my own variation last spring using free materials. Mine is totally above ground so that I didn't have to work on my knees to tend it. I can open the windows partly, or remove them completely, as conditions require to help the plants harden off. Done right the plants are very sturdy and well acclimated by the time the ground has warmed enough for setting them out.


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Looks like a pretty neat arrangement there. I salvaged some windows from a house some years back with the intention of doing something similar, but never did it. But I invested in a greenhouse when we moved in here and it provides me with as much space as I'll ever need.
Cool!! Was pretty sure that was what it was for --but I had never heard of anyone doing it around here. Having grown up on a farm--I know how much heat manure can generate!;):D How much does the temp drop(inside the "hot"frame) at night? If you have a real chilly night will there still be enough heat to keep the plants from getting chilled or do you have to wait till there's no "below freezing" nights before setting them out?
I have something similar but witout the manure!
It's great what we can do with to recycle used windows and wood!
When there is frost danger I lay a sheet of 2" styrofoam over the top of the frame. The walls, above the timbers, is also insulated with foil faced foam to reflect sunlight around the interior as well as hold heat. I use a recording thermometer to keep track of both high and low temps inside and out. There were a couple cold days last year when I left it covered all day. I felt the plants could stand a day in the dark better than they could any time at all under 32°. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to