Seeds germinate but no further progress

homey_birdApril 22, 2012


I am new to this forum; and want to get some help from the experts in my seed starting process.

I've been using peat pellets to start my seeds. I've had no problems germinating them but the real issue is that once they germinate, they do not progress beyond the first set of leaves.

Since they are still in the pellets, I do not fertilize them but I suspect overwatering may be an issue. I do move them closer to the lights but should they be left on more dryer side beyond the point of germination? I'd appreciate suggestions....thanks in advance!

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The peat pellets tend to remain wet which will retard growth it could also be soil temp. the soil should be cooler after germination. finaly the number of hours of good light per day

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 4:18PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

There are well documented problems with the pellets but since you are already using them here are a couple of tricks that might help. No guarantees.

They absorb water inconsistently so part of it is too wet and then the roots his a compacted part that is too dry etc. Using your fingers gently squeeze the sides of the expanded pellets in a rolling in motion. You don't want to tear the netting - not now anyway - but you want to loosen up the peat inside the netting as much as possible. You will feel the various hard layers so focus on them. it is best to do this before planting of course but if done carefully it won't damage the roots if doing it on existing seedlings.

Once the whole pellet feels uniformly loosen water it well. Then pick it up and lightly squeeze out most of the excess water. Pack them right next to each other in the tray so they have direct contact.

From that point on you must avoid over-watering. Just put a very small amount of water in the tray. You don't want them light tan (dry) but you also don't want them dark brown (too wet.) Depending on how old the plants are you can mix a very small amount of soluable fertilizer in with the water 1x a week. Use no more than 1/4 strength.

Next time skip the pellets.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I too was beginning to wonder that pellets are possibly the problem. Plus, one poster noted on another thread that squirrels dig out the pellets -- that's so true! I have experienced it too!!

What is the next preferred medium? Actually seed growing soil in small seed starting kits? Any special tricks to give them a good start? (I grow organically).

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 9:44PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

Some "tricks" that work for me - use a sterile germination mix (I use Burpee's mixes, but there are many other good ones); use plastic cell packs (I use deep six packs that I purchase in bulk from a greenhouse supply site - a case lasts me a long time); wet the medium thoroughly before planting (I fill the cells dry and use boiling water to wet them, the leave them overnight to cool and for the moisture to be thoroughly distributed and absorbed); cover the seeds with bird gravel or fine chicken grit (I read this tip once to prevent damp off, and over the years it has proven true for me); water each planted cell with a small, gentle shower of water to settle the grit; cover with a humidity dome - propped slightly open to prevent excess moisture build-up and allow air circulation; resist watering again until well after you see germination unless the medium becomes very dry (unlikely if it was thoroughly wetted before planting); remove humidity cover and put directly under lights once there is germination. Water seedlings only as needed (when I think they need water, I check the weight of the six pack to confirm that they need water; it's a test that I find useful to avoid overwatering). I do not feed seedlings until they are planted out. I also have a fan circulating air and blowing on the seedling. Don't skimp on your light setup (I mean amount of light, not necessarily $ - there are frugal set-ups that work just fine). Make sure it is big enough and adjustable - you'll be much happier with your results if you can give the seedlings sufficient indoor light.

Of course, YMMV.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Thanks for the advice -- will incorporate the techniques in the future.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 11:49AM
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