seedling issues with 5-1-1

Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)March 20, 2014

Hey guys,

Love the 5-1-1, I have a couple dozen trees and other plants in it right now. My issue is starting seedlings. I use Rapid Rooter plugs to get the seeds sprouted until their first true leaves start and then pop them into 1 gal bags of 5-1-1.

However, only 2 out of a dozen tomatoes have survived -- the rest die off from damping or what appears to be a potassium deficiency (purple under the leaves). I've tried both solid and liquid ferts but I can't combat this issue.

Large seeds like cucumbers, squash, beans and corn are thriving in the 5-1-1. However, tomatoes, peppers, kale and everything else with a small seed isn't adapting to the 5-1-1 and just die off after sprouting. I'm thinking of going back to traditional seed starting mix and then potting up to 5-1-1 when they're more developed.

Any advice? Thanks!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Maybe the problem is that you're transferring your seedlings too soon....into a volume of mix that is too large? I would wait to transfer seedlings until they have 3 - 5 sets of true leaves. Also, you might consider starting the seeds in a screened 5-1-1 mix.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 1:32PM
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Jay Part Shade (Zone 10B, S21, Los Angeles)

Thanks for the tips, you're probably right after transferring too soon -- I'm starting the seeds in plugs which just sit directly in a water tray. Do you think it's fine to leave them in there until they get that large? I'm then putting them in 1 gal pots, though if there that size, I might as well just stick them in their final containers.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 10:26PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I really don't have any advice to give, other than to put them into a transitional volume before potting them up. Can you post pics? That always helps with advice from a distance.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:56PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

5.1.1 is NOT (imo) a starting NOR a newly germinated seedling medium. UNLESS as Josh said, it is screened (1/8") But when you do that it is no 5-1-1 anymore.

As far as the nutrients are concerned (N, P, K, Ca, Mg) 5-1-1 is bare. So you have to add those element ahead of time,First, soak it and then pot and plant.. So then when you transplant the nutrients are present in the medium (in desolved and available form) for the plants.

In order for an emerging seedling to grow, it has to have a good contact with the medium. When the medium is chunky, like pine bark or coarse perlite the tiny roots are in the air.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:50AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Incorrect, Seysonn, I screen my 5-1-1 over a 1/4 inch screen, so it is still fairly coarse. Roots do not require contact with the medium, as long as their is moisture/vapor present. Remember, 5-1-1 is a *starting point* not a destination. For example, I don't use peat....but I use another part of a binding ingredient.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:40AM
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