Help! How do I save my swiss chard?

adastra09(9)March 17, 2010

I planted my first garden in jiffy pellets in the begining of March and I may have gone a little (or alot) crazy with the seaweed fertilizer. As a result, all of my plants have shot up but they are all very leggy (except for the squash seedlings, which seem to inhale the stuff). My swiss chard got the worst of it, though. It is still producing leaves and growing but the stems are very weak. They don't stand up just sprawl on the ground like the world's laziest vines. The spinach mustard has this problem as well. My tomatoes are standing up but the stems are thin and there is alot of space between the ground and the first leaves. They are all still growing fine so I am reluctant to give up on them but I don't know what to do. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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sleepy33(5b KS)

Lights. It's not the fertiizer, it's lack of light.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 5:48PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

As sleepy said, you need more light closer to the seedlings.

If they are not turning yellow and look weak, I would rule out too much fertilizer.

Lights should be 1-3" away from the seedlings.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 6:20PM
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Lights have made a huge difference for me. If the seedlings away for just a bit, they get lazy. And the things they'll do to get to it... I'm sooo glad I spent the 15 bucks or so.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 9:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

adastra09 - as the others have mentioned, are you using a light set-up for your plants? If not, then you need one (see the FAQ here) and if so then either it isn't enough or it is too far away from the plants.

Most young seedlings don't require any feeding. Plants yes, seedlings no. If your plants are already quite long and lanky with weak stems then there really isn't alot to can do to improve them except transplant them into larger containers and, when possible, plant them deeply up to just below the lowest set of leaves. But without sufficient light they will just stretch out all over again.

Leafy greens, things that don't have stems but which grow from the base cluster can't be deep transplanted. In some cases you can give them a bit of a haircut back to about 3 inches and they will send up new leaves. But again without lots of light they will just stretch out again.

So providing sufficient artificial light is the primary solution to your problem. That and not starting your plants so early. ;)


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

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 12:05AM
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Thank you so much! I will find a grow light today

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 9:59AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Thank you so much! I will find a grow light today

If you read the FAQ I linked for you on lights or some of the other posts here on light, you'll discover that "grow lights" are not what you need. Grow lights are a special kind of bulb used for blooming and fruiting plants, not seedlings, and much more expensive.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 5:26PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

You are in zone 9 so can you start hardening them off and getting them outside asap? Do it gradually as these etiolated plants will not take kindly to sudden changes. It should certainly be warm enough for the chard and mustard. I'm not familiar with your squash and tomato planting times.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 2:18PM
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