hardly anything is sprouting! what am i doing wrong?

srg215(6b nj)April 29, 2012

i planted about 18 sugar snap peas and only 5 sprouted. i planted a LOT of spinach, none sprouted. i planted 5 spinach transplants, they all flowered as small seedlings. i planted a bunch of broccoli seeds and they seem to have sprouted but the transplants are not doing well. onion, marigold & basil have not sprouted yet either (planted last week).

i'm nervous to transplant my tomatoes next week because it's like the kiss of death.

what could be wrong? i have a 4x12 foot raised garden. used a compost mix (bumper crop) and good quality topsoil. watering 1-2x per day. has been chilly (30s-40 at night, 60 high during day).


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srg215(6b nj)

and i also planted zucchini & cukes last week and don't see any sprouts yet.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 6:06PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Are the seeds planted in-ground? I imagine it would still be pretty cold to sow many things outside.
Around here, we don't plant out tomatoes until late spring/early summer. Any earlier and they just sulk.
How long ago did you sow? Some things can take a while to germinate, especially when it's cold.
One of the commoner reasons seeds don't come up is that people bury them too deeply. A general rule is to bury the seed about about twice its diameter. That is very, very shallow!
I find legumes and cucurbits, with their big, strong seeds can be planted deeper.
I suggest watering less often, but more heavily, if you know what I mean.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 6:35PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

To clarify: I meant I start tomatoes in early spring , but don't transplant in the garden till it's reliably warm.
On that note, I direct-seed cucurbits in early summer.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 6:40PM
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Do you have slugs? Slugs or other bugs could be mowing them down as the seeds come up.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:03PM
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wait until its warm next week

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:07PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well we'd need a lot more info to give specifics but some general comments that might help -

1) all the things you list have very different planting times, require different soil temps, and have different germination times. No way should you plant squash at the same time or even near the same time as you would plant peas and spinach or broccoli. On average those crops are 6-8 weeks apart. Onions take a long time to germinate from seed and are usually started indoors around the first of the year or direct seeded in the fall. See what I mean?

2) the temps you mention are not good germination OR planting temps for some of your list but are survivable if all else cooperates but results would be quite slow. And they sure don't sound like zone 6B temps. Are you sure of your zone and proper planting times?

3) No garden or crop requires watering 2x a day or even daily or even every other day. Only in the high heat of summer do some gardens require watering more than once a week so it is very likely that you are drowning at least some of your plants and rotting some of the seeds before they can germinate. Why do you feel you need to water so much especially since it is so cool?

4) the spinach transplants were likely too old for transplanting anyway so they bolted.

In general, from the info provided, it sounds like you are way late on some things and rushing other things and way over watering everything. I'd spend some time learning about proper planting times and soil temps for the various crops you mention and given the weather you mention I sure wouldn't plant out tomato plants. Only once the night time temps are consistently in the 50s to 60s can they go out and they have to be well hardened off first.

Then there is the soil issues. Have you had it tested? Did you add any fertilizers? Have you tried feeding any of these plants anything? Compost alone won't feed plants especially in a new bed.

Just some things to consider.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:12PM
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A soil thermometer is very useful for judging when to plant seeds or set seedlings outside. A digital meat thermometer works well for this.

Here's a chart that shows the best soil temperatures for germinating different varieties of vegetable seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil temperatures

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 7:21PM
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I am not by any means an experienced veggie gardener. We are also in 6B- NJ. We're in Pemberton. We planted our Broccoil plants (started inside) a few weeks ago along with various cold weather lettuces. Our onions from last year are huge. Newly planted onions have all sprouted and staulks are about 8 inches or so.

Last week I put out the bean plants, corn plants and squash plants. I started all the seeds inside and then transferred them to our greenhouse (not heated but it is warmer and protected inside), then hardened them off by some outside time each day. I would have liked to have waited a little longer on some of them but they were getting root bound in their little pots so I decided to take a chance.

I noticed that a couple of my bean leaves look like they got a little frost damaged. This last week was much colder night temps than normal or what they called for. My neighbor who has hundreds of acres just shakes his head when I show him what else I have planted. He is waiting 2 more weeks to plant. So, I hope that at least gives you a comparison and helps you. Last year I directly sowed in the soil in April, nothing happened until May, then they started sprouting and did awesome. So, don't give up, there is still hope. I am only watering a couple times a week, if it hasn't rained or if the soil is really dry, not just on top but dry when you dig your hand down4-6 inches. I don't know that I am doing everything the right way but so far so good. Oh, tomatoes go in Mothers Day weekend but they are my nemesis each year. I have about 12 plants that I am trying so we will see. I am quite persistent. Best of luck to you, I hope you see baby seedlings popping up soon.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:17PM
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It sounds like your soil temp. is in the 50-55 F range which is OK for spinach and pea germination but it will be pretty slow - expect two weeks or so. Definitely too cold for basil, zukes, cukes, etc. Sow them again later when it warms up.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:23PM
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srg215(6b nj)

thank you all for the info. apparently i don't know enough to be trying to plant so many different veggies. i just go by the back of the seed packet which said to direct sow after risk of frost and our last frost date was mid April i believe.

so can anyone tell me when i should be planting zukes/cukes? tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (i have them growing inside now), broccoli and spinach?

dave: i did a zip code search for my zone and it told me 6B. i'm in northern NJ (bergen county).

the temps this week are forecasted to be highs in the 60's & 70's and lows in the 50s. should i plant more seeds of any of my listed veggies or wait longer to see if any germinate that i planted a week or so ago?

thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 11:50PM
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I'll be planting seeds (beans, carrots, etc) this weekend here in Brooklyn NY, it has been a little cold, but everything i planted in early April is doing great, Peas, Spinach and Lettuce.

C'est La Vie

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 7:56AM
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I am in NJ, essex county, I would wait to see what sprouts, replant what doesnt. Keep tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant inside this week, if by next week we look all in the clear, then it might be safe to start transplanting.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 9:21AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

srg215, gardening is a lot of fun but is also a learning process. You certainly are not the first person to jump right in, full steam ahead. Gardening is local and zone 6B can vary greatly. When you need some help, find people locally who can give you more information. Weather is always variable so that will impact when it is okay to do things. Take heart, you can expect that things will not always go well (which can also be said for those who have gardened for decades)but have fun with the process. It won't be too long before you are chuckling about other newbies enthusiastically doing too much.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:12AM
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It may be too late for broccoli and spinach - that is, seeding them outside. If you have broccoli seedlings, they need to go out as soon as possible, but don't forget to harden them off first.

Tomatoes and their relatives aren't going to do anything outside until it's HOT. Again, they need to be hardened off first.

For squash and cucs, check the soil temperatures. That matters more than anything. These crops do best direct seeded into warm soil, not transplanted.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:12AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

In NJ (and in Bergen County) you have one of the best online gardening extension services in the country from Rutgers University and you need to explore all their resources for home gardeners. Your county office can provide you with detailed planting info for your specific area as well as care info for each specific vegetable.

And there are umpteen online sources for each vegetable to just by Googleing 'hot to grow ________ (name of vegetable)'.

zukes/cukes? tomatoes, peppers, eggplants (i have them growing inside now), broccoli and spinach?

Info from locals will be far more accurate for you but in most of 6b it is too late for spinach, broccoli transplants went in a month ago, and its too late for them to be planted now, tomatoes can be planted next week, peppers and eggplants in mid-May to early June. But this is all weather permitting in your specific area. Don't rush. That only causes more problems. When in doubt weather-wise, wait.

But your biggest issues, as I said above, is your watering and your soil issues. That must change drastically for any success.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:11AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I'd only add that this is not a "normal" spring (most of them aren't, but this one is really unusual), and the info on the backs of seed packets are pretty vague (they have to be)... In other words, a more typical year would see you and me both past our last frost dates at this point, but not this one.

I especially agree with Dave about the watering, you will kill everything with the amount of water you are currently supplying. Next, when it is really truly warm, put out your tomatoes. Plant some beans, cucmbers, maybe a pepper transplant or so. These are good starter plants, and will likely give you a harvest while you learn about gardening. It's complicated, but rewarding! Cheers!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 12:35PM
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srg215(6b nj)

thanks everyone. i'll give up on the broccoli & spinach for now. will stop watering for a while & get some fertilizer and see how the weather is next week.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 1:55PM
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For what its worth, my peas took over a month to sprout.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:44PM
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This has been a weird spring, we had that 80 degree spell that tricked some of us into thinking we should sow earlier than we normally do -- that and the renumbering of our hardiness zones.

Are your seeds new this year? Unless you store them carefully, older seeds can lose their viability. I've noticed a big difference between new and older seeds. The new ones just pop right up when conditions are right.

I live an hour or two north of you and my peas and spinach, planted in mid- March and April, are up and looking healthy, so it's not the weather. As others have mentioned, onion seeds have to be started indoors very early (like early Feb.) It's still too cold here for outdoor planting of basil, zukes, cukes, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, peppers and beans. Normally I put them out May 15 to 30, depending on the weather. There's no advantage to doing it too early. They like it hot. I start the beans, squash and cukes outside. I start eggplant, peppers and tomatoes indoors in cells or soil blocks in mid-March, then transplant them into bigger pots or blocks after a few weeks.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Oh, and I forgot to say that you can try peas again as a fall crop.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:10AM
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