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Consult Table 1 for the optimum seeding date. Peppers require 7 to 8 weeks and tomatoes 5 or 6 to grow to transplanting size. Squash and cucumbers require only 2 to 3 weeks to grow to an ideal size. Members of the cabbage and lettuce families need 4 to 5 weeks. Flowering annuals also vary in the time required to produce a size suitable for transplanting. Much depends on local growing conditions. It is important to keep a garden notebook and record seeding dates, length of time to germinate and time required to reach transplant size. Seedlings are ready to transplant when they have the first set of true leaves.
A mild deficiency of P can reduce height without causing nutrient deficiency symptoms or delay in plant development. The method has been used most successfully with petunias and tomatoes, but most bedding plants are probably responsive. Fertilizers to try are those with a P analysis is 0-2%. Very little P is required to satisfy the requirements of common bedding plants. In fact, the starter charge in many soilless media seems to be enough to carry marigolds and seed geraniums to flowering with little or no effect on height.Plants themselves can have an influence on growth medium pH. Many growers in Massachusetts have reported sudden drops in pH in soilless media growing geraniums. Oddly the low pH conditions which can develop as the geranium grows are the opposite of what geranium needs! In a North Carolina research project pansy, begonia, celosia, dianthus, and tomato caused the pH to drop while marigold, annual vinca, and zinnia caused the pH to increase. Sometimes these changes are large enough to cause a nutrient deficiency or toxicity.
Your indoor garden is never more vulnerable than in the first few weeks after you plant. Whether you start with seeds or clones, the tender seedlings can suffer from overheating, underfeeding, and lethal fungi. Check on your little plants every day and when you see any of these symptoms, take quick action to fix the problem and keep your crop growing strong. Looking for more gardening information? Check out our Organic Gardening 101 for more tips.A common fertilizer strategy is to begin fertilizing vigorous types shortly after transplanting. Small, slow growing types should receive lower rates (100-150 ppm N) or less frequent applications until they are well-established. To increase shelf-life it may be beneficial to cut the rate (ppm) in half at visible bud or about 2-3 weeks before sale. To avoid creating a nutrient deficiency, do a soil test before making a rate reduction. (Source: ag.umass.edu)