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help needed with seedlings

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help needed with seedlings

Post  ltree74 on 2/22/2012, 3:02 pm

I am trying to grow some seedlings. I had a bunch pop up then half died before I realized they need more light. I have a Scott's gro light now. My seedlings have nice color green on the two leaves. The stems are kind of thin. Yesterday a few fell over. This morning when I got up a few more had fallen over. The seedlings are 4 weeks old so I gave them a little fertilizer in their water. My mel's mix is from last year so I thought maybe they might need some extra nutrients. I have no idea why they just fell over. Any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  elliephant on 2/22/2012, 3:04 pm

Sounds like dampening off (sp?) Is it possible that they are staying a bit too wet?

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  quiltbea on 2/22/2012, 3:14 pm

Yes, it sounds like damping off. They were kept too wet. Sometimes its difficult to judge.

Welcome ltree, to the forum. I hope you enjoy SFG. It changed my life in 2009 and this is just the best forum for SFGrs. Again, Welcome.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  Patty from Yorktown on 2/22/2012, 3:28 pm

I would agree with the dampening off diagnoses. You will probably need to replant. Put a fan pointed at your plants, air movement seems to help keep the plants healthy. Good Luck.
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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  ltree74 on 2/22/2012, 4:12 pm

Thanks. I'm new to growing seedlings so may I ask for a description of what dampening off is? I gather it means they were too wet but is that all that term means or is there some deeper meaning? I appreaciate the responses. I'm determined to make a go of seedling growing!

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 2/22/2012, 4:30 pm

My understanding is that damping off is caused by one of a few fungi. The fungi cause the stem of the plant to rot usually near the soil surface (look for a thin spot in the stem) and it makes the plant fall over and eventually die. Here are a couple of short pieces of info:
http://www.hort.uconn.edu/ipm/greenhs/htms/dampofgh.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQZPN7kEvag

The nice thing is, they are just seeds, so I would follow the recommendations about a sterile medium, and sterilized pots and put them in a room with a fan to circulate the air, and try again.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  Beav395 on 2/26/2012, 2:16 am

I just killed my first seedlings. What do you mean by a "sterile" medium and pots. How do you sterilize those things?


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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  walshevak on 2/26/2012, 7:41 am

Not sure about the soil, although the seed starting mixes are considered sterile, but just wash your used pots in warm soapy water and add a bit of bleach to the rinse water. If they are used peat pots then a minute in the microwave should do it. Watch carefully, peat will catch fire. Or buy new ones. I have heard mild green or camomile tea sprayed on the emerging sprouts will act as a fungicide. I used it last year, JIC.

I'll tell a tale on myself. Back in 2002, I was moving from England back to the States. That year England was fighting a battle with Hoof and Mouth disease so US customs was requiring everything that had been in soil to be sterilized, even the bottoms of my shoes. I filled the little deck pond (see my avitar) with warm soapy water and washed all my garden tools and collection of ceremic pots and metal flower towers. (England has some marvelous plant shops) Then I filled it with a mild bleach solution and soaked everything a few minutes. Except my shoes, those I just wiped the soles with the solution. Took me an entire day to empty, scrub, and soak all the dirt from the pots and tools.

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sterilizing soil

Post  curio on 2/26/2012, 9:44 am

There is a way to "sterilize" potting soil that you're not sure about, although I believe it does as much harm as good. You spread the soil in a flat pan or cooking sheet and put it in an oven at 300 degrees for a half hour.
I would be afraid that it would not only kill bad bacteria and fungi, but would also kill any good bacteria in the soil.

Seed starting mix can be purchased anywhere they sell gardening supplies. I've seen it in small bags and in 20 pound bags (would most likely be for commercial or semi-commercial gardeners). I just by the small bags myself, as it's more than I will use in most growing seasons for our gardens.

Some people start their seedlings on or in wet/damp vermiculite.

A good way to provide moisture without the problems of overwatering is to saturate the starter pots with the soil in them until the top of the soil is damp to the touch. Then seed your pots and place them in a pan or starting tray and cover the entire thing, either with a clear lid (also available at most garden centers for a few dollars) or if it's a small pan, insert plastic straws or wood/plastic chopsticks in each corner of the pan (sink them in the soil of those corner pots) and then either slide the entire thing into a clear plastic bag (like a veggie bag from the grocery or bread bag if it's only one or two pots) and then close the bag and clip it with a bread tie, or spread clear plastic wrap gently over the entire thing and tape it down. The humidity in the enclosed tray or bag will keep the seeds and soil moist without needing more water until the seeds are sprouted. Once sprouted, remove them from the bag or take the cover off and then check them daily. If they need water, only add a small amount to the tray, and not the pot. You want the surface to be only slightly moist at this point.

I like using peat pots because I can see if the pot is dry and water then.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  quiltbea on 2/26/2012, 12:00 pm

A word of caution.......Don't sterilize soil in your oven unless you want the smell to overpower every corner. Its not very nice.

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stinky baked soil

Post  curio on 2/26/2012, 6:40 pm

I had forgotten about that little drawback. I stopped sterilizing soil when the seed starting mixes became readily available.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  ltree74 on 3/3/2012, 5:49 pm

I appreciate everyone's input. It was definitely dampening off. Another lesson learned. Smile So that's lighting, sterilizing, and watering down. One of these days the little bad boys are gonna grow!!! I'm determined to grow seeds. I really, really learned alot from the post! Thanks to all. Happy Growing!!

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  plantoid on 3/3/2012, 6:08 pm

@quiltbea wrote:A word of caution.......Don't sterilize soil in your oven unless you want the smell to overpower every corner. Its not very nice.





Spoilsport ! Laughing .....it takes ages for the pong to totally disapear as well . It also makes your clothing reek in the wardrobes & drawers till you get them washed or dry cleaned ..guess how I know ????? Embarassed

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  plantoid on 3/3/2012, 6:15 pm

@ltree74 wrote:I am trying to grow some seedlings. I had a bunch pop up then half died before I realized they need more light. I have a Scott's gro light now. My seedlings have nice color green on the two leaves. The stems are kind of thin. Yesterday a few fell over. This morning when I got up a few more had fallen over. The seedlings are 4 weeks old so I gave them a little fertilizer in their water. My mel's mix is from last year so I thought maybe they might need some extra nutrients. I have no idea why they just fell over. Any help would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

Just use neat vermiculite till the plants are big enough to pot on in MM if you must pot on or use best case scenario plant out direct from the vermiculite as per the ANSFG 2006 edition page 122 to 124 .



Going back to your post ...

Using a fertilizer feed in the watering is fraught with probs for the MM will still be in good condition wrt nutrients you like as not going to kill the tiny plants by over doing it .

Baby Bio is an established or well rooted new house plant liquid feed & is available here in the UK.... I don't know about availability in the USA .

It's designed for a couple of drops of the feed to be added per pint of water and used occasionaly .

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  shannon1 on 3/4/2012, 12:37 am

Itree once again I'm late to the party. You have been given great advice I can only add some people run a fan on low near their babies to help promote strong stem growth. Keep your light as close to your plants as possible too this helps prevent leggyness. Is that a word?

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  quiltbea on 3/4/2012, 11:06 am

Another way to strengthen your young plants is to brush them across their tops with a piece of paper, just lightly. A fan really early in the season may be a little too cool for them. I know my furnace room is only heating to 60-62*F so they don't need any more cool air.

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Re: help needed with seedlings

Post  shannon1 on 3/5/2012, 3:22 am

@quiltbea wrote:Another way to strengthen your young plants is to brush them across their tops with a piece of paper, just lightly. A fan really early in the season may be a little too cool for them. I know my furnace room is only heating to 60-62*F so they don't need any more cool air.
great tip

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