Seedlings - failing, help! (pictures)

badlydrawndee(4)May 6, 2013

Newbie question here! I have never successfully grown plants from seed before. I am doing vegetables in peat pots this year and my radishes sprouted very quickly, but seem to have gotten tall without making any leaves and are now droopy and lazy.

My lettuces seem like I cannot revive them

And some of the peat pots have grown mold

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! It's just gotten warm enough for me to move these outside, I think, but given their fragile nature at the moment, I'm hesitant.

Pls help!

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TNmom2four(6)

Hi there,

I am relatively new to seed starting and about to post my own problem, but I am pretty sure your issue is that you do not have an adequate light source.

You need to go to Home Depot and buy a full spectrum flourescent light bulb set. I use a hanging dome and it holds two long flourescent tube lights. I don't use the special "plant" lights. I tried those, but got better results with the cheaper full spectrum lights. I use one soft bulb and one bright white bulb.

My plants have never been leggy, but I am careful to keep the plants about 2-4 inches from the light source!! I will prop up the tray with books, etc. and as they grow, removed books, so that I am always keeping those lights above my light source around 2-4 inches.

Also, looks like you are loving your plants way too much if they are getting mold. Hold way back on the watering!! Just sprtiz them with water in the morning- give them a good soak and ONLY water if you see the peat starting to get light brown.

BTW, I use those same Jiffy peat pots and have had excellent results. I am sure there is an even better growing medium but for beginners, those peat pots are easy and work.

And one last bit of advice- Once your seedlings get up and running, spritz them with diluted chamomile tea to prevent damping off (drooping over). I did this my first round and had no issues. Every two or three days I would spritz them at soil level with weak diluted chamomile tea and had no issues. Steep 1 organic chamomile tea bag in 2 cups water for ten minutes, covered. Cool and then dilute until liquid is a pale yellow color and pour in spray bottle.

Hope this helps! I'm sorry to say that I believe your seedlings above are too far gone to save. :(

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:39PM
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mauch1(z6b PA)

It looks like the seedlings are badly 'etiolated' i.e. long and pale - because they didn't get enough light. What is your set up for the seedling trays?

Also, why were you starting radishes indoors? (Admiittedly I don't live in zone 4), Usually since radishes are ready in around 30 days and can be planted before the frost free date their done directly outside (also I'd be concerned how the jiffy pellet starters would affect the root development (since that's the part we eat). Now people do start lettuce indoors. I don't think you can rescure those seedlings. (slightly etiolated you can usually salvage, but these are way beyond that). *

The options I think you have (and I hope others respond with their ideas as well):

1) Start your radishes and lettuce outside. If you need earlier lettuce (and cost isn't an issue), buy a few 4 or 6 packs of lettuce plants from a nursery (if available). Then plant more seed for your main crop.

2) If its still too early for your zone to plant lettuce and radish outside, restart your seeds:
a) on any non-moldy jiffy pots, pull the existing seedlings and replant - PROVIDE MORE LIGHT.
b) (a) has some risk that a mold or other infection that started on the existing plants will affect your seeds (I generally haven't had a problem with this however), so buy new pellets and start over (and provide more light).

On the light issue -- if you have a SOUTH facing window you can sometimes start seedlings in that, but otherwise you may need to provide it some sort of man-made light source (flourescents are generally considered the best 'starter' option).

Sorry for the bad news and good luck!

* With slightly etiolated seedlings you can pot them in then next size pots (or outside) with the stems slightly buried. It usually not deep enough to cause the roots oxygen starvation, and can help support the weak stems.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 3:45PM
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mandolls(4)

Yeah - sorry - but you need to just compost those.

Even healthy radish doesnt transplant well - it will grow but it wont bulb up. The seed for radish and lettuce is cheap.

I'm also in zone 4 - it should be warm enough to start both of those outside now, they like coolish weather.

I would recommend doing a little research on this forum before you start anything else - pretty much everything you need to know is here somewhere - read the FAQ's and use the search engine.

This is only my 5th year - and I have learned most of what I know reading through old posts here - that and trial and error :)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 5:47PM
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ScottsiegreenLee(5b)

I am a beginner gardener and this is my first year out of three that I have successfully grown seeds indoors. And I have been using the same Jiffy peat pellets each year as well. The first year everything became moldy and the second year everything became too leggy. This year I have been keeping my seedbabies close to the light gradually each week moving them an inch further away from the light, starting with them at 2 inches away and now six. My horticulturalist friend told me never more than 6 inches away from the light. In my first year of growing mold I learned to take off the plastic dome once the seedlings have sprouted. My friend says she never uses a dome but she has a way greener thumb than I. Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:52PM
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