Problems Starting from Seed

EdGloverMarch 3, 2013

Hi. I'm not new to gardening, but new to this forum. I hope I may get some help on a subject I have been trying to learn which is starting my flower garden and vegetables and herbs from seed indoors early in season (possibly too early). Ill try to keep it simple, but basically, I purchased some seed starter which Is Burpee product designed specifically for seed starting made up of coconut hulls, pearlite, and some other organic stuff. I tried a few different areas of the house and everyone has failed to germanate. I used seeds from various sources, most all recently purchased online, or from local sources. I used earth pods made from some kind of compost material, and also seed starter kit made from styrofoam, and has clear plastic lid. I bought a heating pad for the styrofoam kit, kept it upstairs where we keep the temp around 64 deg. In basement i placed the pods, where its mich cooler at about
50-60, but placed the box on heater and it made the box heat up to anywjere from 60-90 deg while cycling light on and off for 12 hours (used infrared and fluroscent both). some sprouts came up, but died not long after. none came up in the upstairs covered styrofoam kit which had more ideal temp at about 75-80 deg. I even germinated some seed in paper towels which work, but after planting in both nothing ever came up. What am I doing wrong? i thought for sure the one which gets natural light would have worked bettter a d is all the rave. Any suggestions would be great. I tried mostly flowers like hollyhock, black eye susan, some hardy herbs like cilantro, and parsley, and lavender. I did notntry any veggies... cause its too early. Started these in Jan 2013. kep water, and fertilizers at bare minimum. Im lost as to wht it could be.

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bugbite(z9a FL)

If you wish, refine your technique by testing easy germinating seeds like "french" marigolds or cosmos. Soak 3 hours then plant. Barely cover. Lightly water. Keep reasonably moist.

I am not sure if your last statement is not the problem:
"keep water and fertilizers at bare minimum."

Is your medium too dry? Do you let your seeds dry in the germination process? I am not saying to keep it soaked obviously. As you know too little is bad since a seedling might be up to 80-95% water and evaporates water especially in dry air environments.
But, too much suffocates and/or rots. The right amount of water is important and not hard to achieve.

Personally I fertilize seedlings when they began developing their first true leaves at between 125-150 PPM of nitrogen. Some seed soil mixtures have no nutrients to support the seedling growth. Check the bag.
Good Luck

This post was edited by bugbite on Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 9:26

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:57AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

First, I would recommend starting with a review of the FAQs here, the Frequently Asked Questions. I linked them below.

Second, I can tell you that the most common cause of the problems you describe is NOT the seeds themselves, it is the methods used. They are

1) over-wet potting mix causing the seeds to rot before they can germinate,

2) allowing the potting mix to dry out completely after the seed germinates or

3) improper planting techniques such as planting depth, lack of cold stratification first, failure to pre-soak when required, etc. Some seeds need to be laid on the surface, uncovered, and exposed to light to germinate. Some require depth and darkness, some require pre-soak, some cold stratification, some need to be nicked (scarification).

4) not knowing the germination time required for each specific variety. Some seeds germinate in 24-48 hours, others can take weeks.

The heat and lights provided are secondary considerations. While they are of great benefit in speeding up germination and later growth, any reasonable age seed given the right moisture level and light or lack of light exposure will do its best to germinate.

Fertilization has no role until after germination.

So why not tell us exactly what seeds you are trying to germinate?

Burpee product designed specifically for seed starting made up of coconut hulls, pearlite, and some other organic stuff.

Nothing wrong with that if properly wetted and then wrung out good before planting.

I used earth pods made from some kind of compost material, and also seed starter kit made from styrofoam,

IME Earth Pods (if you mean the brand) tend to take a long time to get wet initially and then they stay wet too long unless you squeeze much of the excess moisture out of them before planting.

The foam container I can't help with except to say they don't conduct heat well and most i have seen are built to "float" in water which is a good way to drown seeds.

So after reading the FAQs, can you give us more info?

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing from Seed FAQs

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 12:28PM
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SaraElise(8b)

I love starting plants from seeds. It's great to see its whole cycle.

If you are new to starting from seed, I would actually recommend starting with a veggie of some sort. They tend to be less finicky than the flowers. Lettuce will sprout within a week, so that would be a great test (and if you let it grow, it's only a 4-6 weeks to harvest!)

Or do the science class favorite...beans! Pick your favorite dried bean right from you cupboard and plant. I usually pre-soak the beans in a paper towel for a half a day, then plant.

If I decide to add fertilizer to a particular plant, I wait until they have true leaves. And, I actually tend to have been germination of most things in the dark --but some seeds do need light, so that would depend on type.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 2:37AM
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art33(6)

"I love starting plants from seeds. It's great to see its whole cycle."

I couldn't agree more Sara and welcome to GardenWeb!

Art

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:05PM
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pacojam

I bought a heating pad for the styrofoam kit, kept it upstairs where we keep the temp around 64 deg. In basement i placed the pods, where its mich cooler at about 50-60, but placed the box on heater and it made the box heat up to anywjere from 60-90 deg while cycling light on and off for 12 hours (used infrared and fluroscent both). some sprouts came up, but died not long after. none came up in the upstairs covered styrofoam kit which had more ideal temp at about 75-80 deg.

Too much variation with the temps. It might also have to do with planting depth because some seeds need light to geminated. What work for me is a good potting mix and sum worm casting and more optimum temperature.

good luck

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 7:08PM
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bugbite(z9a FL)

Pacojam,
Currently all my seeds except one variety are germinating. The 11 flats are outside. Temperature varies between 38 and 76 degrees.
What depth are you planting the seeds and what type of seeds?
How dry is your air?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 10:26PM
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EdGlover

I tried plantin from Landreth below Hollyhock (Indian Spring variety), Foxglover (digitalis), Butterfly weed, Bee Balm. Black Eyed susans

From Burpee I tried agastache and Bee Balm (2 sources), and Lavender.

None of these say plant directly in Ground since some do not transplant well at all. So I avoided these. I kept them waered well (moist), and the hollyhock is only one that came up, but then shriveled and died. I plan to try this again soon. Ill use the styrofoam approach with a cover and new potting soil from Miracle grow this time.
Thanks for everyone kind guidance here. I really appreicate everyones input. I teavel nearly 100% in my job making it hard (due to sheer exhaustion) to get on here to see who posted any feedback. i love this forum

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:39PM
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