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Re: Hosta seedlings hot frame./Pre sprouting hosta seeds.


Dan:

>Has anyone tried starting hosta seedlings in a small hot frame using
>electric soil heating cables?

You can speed up hosta gemination, but you also have to ask yourself 
if it is worth the extra effort.  I grow my seedlings in a greenhouse 
with filtered light and by the end of the summer I have a nice sized 
plant, in many cases probably large enough that I could sell as a 
liner.  The following year they are ready to go into gallon pots and 
some of these will go into a greenhouse if I want to use them for 
hybridizing.  By mid summer those that went into the greenhouse were 
close to mature size, especially the smaller sized hostas.  It really 
doesn't help me much if I used bottom heat because the use of the 
greenhouse speeds things up enough without having to put a lot of 
effort into it.

>How about pre-sprouting hosta seeds to get them up and going faster?

I haven't tried this, but my first impression is that it is more 
trouble then it is worth.  These kinds of things may be fine for the 
really small time hobbyist grower who is growing a hundred seeds.  The 
easiest thing I can think of is to use a mini-greenhouse or some cold 
frame structure and keep the seedlings there all summer.  

What I do is transfer the selected seedlings to 2 inch Anderson Bands 
in a 1020 flat.  I then fill a second 1020 flat with horse manure, 
sprinkle some slow release fertilize and some triple 16 on top and 
then sit the flat of seedlings on top of the horse manure.  The hosta 
roots grow down into the horse manure in the bottom tray.  This allows 
for the development of a nice root system.  

A mini-greenhouse can easily be made from 10 foot PVC.  I attach 1 
foot long 1/2" aluminum electrical conduit to pressure treated 2x4's 
with two clamps.  I then lay these on the ground and I then slip the 
PVC into the conduit while the whole thing is laying on the ground 
flat. It's important to use schedual 125 (or is it 200?, the thinest 
stuff) 1/2" PVC inside of 3/4" PVC.  The 1/2" PVC is too weak by 
itself to withstand a strong wind and 3/4" PVC will crimp once it is 
arched over.  However, the 1/2" inside the 3/4" works well.  I then 
pound stakes into the ground where I want the mini-greenhouse and I 
make them 5 feet wide.  You can make them as long as you want, but I 
find that 12 feet long is what I like as I can easily water the pots 
or flats fropm both ends and not have to stretch into the grenhouse to 
get everything watered.  I amke them 5 feet wide as that gives me 
enough height so that I can "walk" into the mini-greenhouses without 
too much trouble - but then I am NOT tall.  I then put one of the 
boards inside the stakes and then "walk" the other end into place.  
However, this has to be done with extream care as there is a lot of 
tension being built up.  Slip and that thing will spring up and knock 
your head off.  The mini-grenhouse is then anchored with some 2 ro 3 
foot long pipe pounded into the ground on the inside of the greenhouse 
and clamped to the frame.  I then use aluminum electrical conduit at 
the top and half way up the sides to provide support for the plastic 
and also make it stronger.  I just use electrical tape to attach the 
conduit to the arched frame.  However, you have to cover the 
electrical tape with something to hide the black color, or spray paint 
it white, otherwise it will "melt" the plastic. You can also use hose 
clamps, but that can get a bit expensive.  You can also cover it with 
chicken wire to give more support.  I use UV stabilized plastic, but 
someone with only one mini-greenhouse may not like to pay $200 for a 
100 foot roll of UV stabilized plastic to cover the greenhouse.  Cheap 
construction grade plastic works.  Try to get the type that isn't 
prefectly clear.  Or you can use some frosted plastic and cover that 
with a second layer.  The idea is to have it fairly light, but 
diffused.  The other quick and "cheap" way is to make a framed box of 
some sort and cover it with fiberglass panels. I've discovered that 
the seedlings will take a lot of sunlight as long as it is diffused.

With a set up like this and using the double tray system you should be 
able to get some of them to bloom the second year.

Joe Halinar

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