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Seedlings never got bigger

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Seedlings never got bigger

Post  littlesapphire on 6/24/2010, 10:10 pm

I decided start most of my plants from seed this year, to get a head start. I'll admit that I really don't have much experience with it, nor do I have everything it takes. We have plant lights set up, but stupidly, they're in the basement where it's pretty darn cold. So I set my plants in front of the heater vent until they sprouted, then I put them in the kitchen window where there was the most light.

Well, they did grow quickly at first, but my tomatoes and peppers just didn't seem to do anything after getting their first set of real leaves. I had to pull up my tomatoes shortly after planting them outside, but I left my peppers in. About a month later, they still looked the same as they did (small and with just one or two sets of leaves) as they did when I planted them!! What's wrong with this picture!

I wonder now if there's something wrong with the way I started the seeds, or if there's something wrong with the Mel's mix I made. I wonder because I bought a pepper plant and put it in the same box that I put my pepper seedlings in, and that plant isn't doing very well. It's small and the leaves are edging on yellow. The pepper I put in the other box, though, is doing fine.

Anyone have any ideas?
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  herbarium on 6/24/2010, 10:41 pm

What compost did you use and how many types?
Is it getting water and sun consistently but not too much water?

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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  Retired Member 1 on 6/24/2010, 10:52 pm

Several folks have discovered that their Mel's mix does not have enough nutrients. I used a commercial fertilizer to give my plants a boost when they stalled and side dressed with rabbit manure. They are still not doing as well as I'd like, so will be zapping them with more fertilizer.

Another issue is water. I don't remember where you are, but in this heat I'm needing to water 3 times a day since the Mel's mix is not staying hydrated.

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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  littlesapphire on 6/25/2010, 8:25 am

Well, I only managed to find one kind of compost and along with that I used dehydrated cow manure. I just started using miracle grow. I figure it can't hurt.

It's really weird about the sun. I have two boxes in my back yard, and one is doing well while the other is kind of having issues. The box that is doing well probably JUST gets 6 hours of sunlight, while the box that's doing worse gets a few more hours of sun.

I'm in upstate NY, and the weather is kind of back and forth here. When it's really hot, I notice the first inch or two of the mix dries out. I just started mulching though, and I think it's helping.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  nancy on 6/25/2010, 10:13 am

Most of my vegetables are growing very nicely in MM; however, my tropical and common milkweeds are not. I have them in the butterfly bed at the community garden and in pots on my back patio. Those in the ground are already blooming (one of the commons is over 6 feet tall!) The other flowers in my butterfly bed are doing very well. I will have to ammend the pots - I need the milkweed to feed all the caterpillars I hope to raise.

The only vegetable with which I'm having trouble is peppers. They just don't seem interested in growing. Ah well. I'm overall very pleased and am alrady planning the fall garden.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  dstubbs on 6/25/2010, 1:51 pm

I'm having the same problem -- all of my seedlings seem to be stunted. I'm experiementing with watering less (I live in a damp climate). Wish me luck.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  littlesapphire on 6/25/2010, 2:59 pm

Dstubbs, good luck with your experiment! I think mulching and feeding the plants miracle grow once in a while will help solve my problem until I can figure out what's the real source of the issue.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  milaneyjane on 6/25/2010, 5:53 pm

I would say your mix. I made the same mistake. I had strawberries that had to get in ASAP and at that point I had manure and one type of compost. The plants in that box are stunted. The other boxes I had 5 types of compost with the same plants as the first box and they are flourishing. At the end of the season I am replacing with more Mels mix.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  kimbertangleknot on 6/26/2010, 11:23 pm

One thing as well that no one has mentioned, is hardening off the seedlings. Have you done this? Seeds started indoors need to be slowly acclimated to the outdoors. You can't just take them outside and plant them, more times than naught they will not do well and their growth will be stunted or they might die. They were started in controlled conditions (grow light, even warmth, no wind, no rain, no elements, etc) they've got it easy. You have to think of them as children. You can't just expect to throw a child in a pool and they will know how to swim, you have to ease them into it, same thing for seedlings.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  Megan on 6/27/2010, 4:11 am

I started peppers from seed, both indoors and planted directly. In both cases, they took FOREVER to sprout.... they trailed well behind everything else (except for the watermelon, which was even slower.) I gave up entirely on the ones I'd planted direct, in fact, and set out the other (very tiny) seedlings, expecting it to be a totally failed crop. Turns out that with time (and a lot of heat) the 2-leaved transplants survived, and the direct seeded ones came up! They are finally starting to grow.

I came to the conclusion --correct or not -- that some plants (peppers, cukes and melon especially) just need heat. If your basement was cold, that probably didn't help any. My indoor seed sprouting didn't go as well as it could have, I think, because we keep the A/C set fairly low, plus I found out later that I should have had the light closer to the soil.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  littlesapphire on 6/27/2010, 8:36 am

@kimbertangleknot: I did harden the plants off, as well as I knew how. I let them sit outside a couple hours a day for a while. I will admit, though, that shortly after planting them outside, the weather got cold and nasty. I tried to protect them, but I don't know how well I did.

@Megan: I agree that the heat really helps. I actually did not put my plants in the basement, because I knew that would stunt them. I put them in front of my heater vent until they sprouted, and then in a sunny window that's right above another heater vent.

I think I may not have gotten the Mel's mix totally mixed properly, because my other two boxes are doing alright. It's just the one box that's having problems. I'm busy working on some compost of my own because no matter where I looked this spring, no one had compost. All I could find was manure. I eventually found a little bit of compost, but I ended up using mostly dehydrated cow manure.

So if my plants don't do well this year, I'm just going to chalk it up as experience and use what I learned to make a better garden next year. And, on the plus side, my lettuce, strawberries, squash and onions are doing great Very Happy
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  WardinWake on 6/27/2010, 8:50 am

littlesapphire:

I had a box this year that did as you describe. What I found out was my compost was not finished. Unfinished compost will draw nitrogen from the mix until the composting process is complete and then the nitrogen is released to the mix for the plants to utilize. Adding fish emulsion to the squares fixed the problem for me.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.

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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  Megan on 6/27/2010, 8:53 am

Ward,

I just got some fish emulsion yesterday. Do you need to do anything special since it's a SFG, or just follow directions on the bottle?
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  WardinWake on 6/27/2010, 4:36 pm

@Megan wrote:Ward,

I just got some fish emulsion yesterday. Do you need to do anything special since it's a SFG, or just follow directions on the bottle?

I deluted per the bottle's instructions and then poured about 20 ounces (thanks go to PattyInYorktown) per square foot at the base of the plants. The plants responded in 3 days. After the 8th day I again applied the emulsion only this time at 1/2 strength. The plants and our cat seem to like it.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  Megan on 6/27/2010, 4:54 pm

Hm.... my container says, for vegetables, 1 teaspoon in a gallon of water to cover 250 square feet.... that seems to be a much different dilution?? Sorry to be asking; I've never used this product and am scared I might burn my plants! This is a 1 pint container of Fish Emulsion 2-4-0.
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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  herbarium on 6/28/2010, 9:18 am

I have always used the Alaska Fish Emulsion which says 1 T. per gallon. I use it in a hose end sprayer and spray my lawn, flower beds, etc. Even at 8 oz per gallon which I did once I had no problems. I mix it with liquid kelp.

Just to clear up any confusion: Compost is decomposed organic matter including manures. So, you are using manures that have been composted (basically look like soil) then that is a type of compost.

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Re: Seedlings never got bigger

Post  Megan on 6/28/2010, 6:24 pm

Well, we'll see how it goes. I mixed 2 gallons of water with 1 Tb fish emulsion and 2 Tb of Epsom Salts, and watered my tomatoes, peppers and pole beans. *crossing fingers*
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