Is it time to give up?

Jade_IL(5b)April 16, 2013

Long time lurker here, but have been gardening for several years.

I tried winter sowing peppers and tomatoes last year for the first time and loved it! This year though with all the rain, lack of sun, and cold temperatures, my winter sown peppers and tomatoes have not come up and it's been over a month.

I started seeds around the same time as last year. I know last year was unusually warm so I shouldn't compare my results, but how do I know when to give up? Are the seeds in my containers still good at this point? Or, should I start over?

Thanks in advance for your responses.

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I hope someone else can speak to "veggie seeds" but I can tell you that only about half of my WS flower jugs seeds are "up" yet (and when I say up, I mean miniscule sprouts in many...)

It's cold! Seeds are smart... they germinate when they are ready. They are waiting for it to really feel like spring. I wouldn't give up yet!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:46PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

In zone 5, especially with warm weather plants like tomatoes, it's nowhere near time to give up. When we've had consistent temps above 60 and at least a few all day sunny days, then things will start to pop. Be patient. This really has been a slow year. Everything is very late.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:11PM
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Thank you for the responses!

I'll keep checking on my containers everyday. I was starting to panic a bit, but I'll try to be patient.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:02PM
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i agree with docmom. I'm a zone or 2 warmer than you, and I've just started to have everything pop- cuz we've only just started having temps in the upper 50's - 60's.
your time will come!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 5:53AM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

Chances are you will not see much germination in tomatoes and peppers until night time temperatures are near 50 degrees or daytime temperatures are warm enough to keep the soil temperature at 50 degrees if the air temperature goes below that.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 8:22AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Yes, my sprouts are about 2 weeks late this year. I've only got 5 containers sprouting out of 132 so far, last year by this time there were probably dozens.

I did sow a lot of trees and shrubs this year, which are a real wild card - some may require 2 years to sprout, or not sprout at all... :-/

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 9:25AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

I'm in 5a IL and I haven't even sown my tender annuals like tomatoes yet because it has been so cool. I may work on them this week though. Last year everything was extremely early and this year things are later than usual. I wouldn't use last year to gauge anything since it was SO unusual. I only have a handful of containers with sprouts and that was only after moving them into full sun.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I WS for the first time last year as well and now I feel spoiled by the results. If this year was my first WS year I think I might have thrown in the towel. Though with the suuuper slow start this year, I do find myself wondering how WS vs started indoors would have done in a side by side comparison. I think my WS tomatoes are going to be at least a month behind what they could have been if started inside.

I just got my first sprouts, I've had sprouts on my chocolate cherry tom seeds for about a week, and finally one more peek of green out of the Gold Medal toms. Nothing else. Even my spinach hasnt come up!!

So as a quasi-newbie myself, I'll say I'm not throwing my jugs out by any means, but that i'm tempted to start at least a few indoors so that I'm not faced with transplanting inch tall seedings after our frost-free date and running into problems with not cropping before the fall frosts, especially if we frost early this year.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Thank you all for the reassurances!

To emcd124: that's a great idea! I think I will start some indoors as well, just in case the WS seeds don't make it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 1:02PM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

What most of us have found is that wintersown seedlings may emerge later than inside under lights (because they are waiting for warm soil), but they catch up very quickly and are stockier with leaves interval closer together and without the damp off and hardening off problems.

Spring has been late over a lot of the country, but eventually the soil will be 70 degrees and everything will be jumping out.

The only seedlings I have out in bulk right now are jacobs ladder and forget me nots. Even the foxglove seedlings are microscopic. But I can almost hear the seeds holding their breath before leaping out.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 8:48AM
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The hippie in me is philosophically attracted to the idea that the seeds know best. But I'm wondering if "forcing" them with a few days in indoor temps until seedlings emerge might not be a fine idea. My thinking is something like this, and only refers to weather dependent seedlings, not daylength ones.

weather-dependent seedlings respond to environmental temperatures. But environmental temperatures vary widely from year to year and without obvious patterns. All my tomatoes that burst out in the 80 degree weather we got last March didnt magically "know" that the rest of the spring was going to be fantastic. And indeed we got plenty of hard frosts after that warm streak, including right up to our 90% CI last frost date of May 11th (Z5). But my tomato seedlings were tall and stocky and robust and grew fine through those frosts inside their little WS recyclable "greenhouses."

So why shouldnt I simulate that freak warm spell by bringing them in after a period of cold strat, and then right back outside as soon as they start to sprout? My understanding of what makes seedlings robust, stocky and free from hardening off is that depends on everything that happens AFTER they break the seed-coat and decide to give life a go. So if I bring them in until green peeks and then back outside in their jugs, wouldnt that be just as if Mother Nature decided to give me two days of 72 degree weather and then go back to the 50s?

Someone who knows more than me tell me why this is a terrible idea, otherwise I'm going to start experimenting...

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 1:24PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I'd say experiment. In fact, I just put a great white seed in a pot in my garden window because that and the stupice are the only tomatoes out of 13 ws varieties that have not sprouted, and I really like Great Whites.

And for Jade, my tomatoes went out Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 and they just started sprouting about a week and a half ago when the temps got into the 60s (with one 80+ day thrown in), so a month is not time to give up, especially in a colder zone.

The stupice were new, commercial seeds so I'm not sure what's going on with them, but the Great Whites were about four years old so I'm going to try coddling one inside, at least till it sprouts. Then maybe I'll give emcd's suggestion a whirl and put it right outside.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:11PM
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stlgirl(6a MO)

I just noticed tomato sprouts today. Go figure since today is really cool compared to what the rest of April has been like (getting down in the 30s tonight). I sowed my seeds around the last week in March. Doing the happy dance because I was afraid I maybe "cooked" my seeds a couple weekends ago when it got over 75 and my containers were in full sun. Yes St. Louis weather can be all over the place. After that I moved them to my covered porch that is filtered shade.

I read somewhere that tomato seeds like 3 warm/cool cycles before they will germinate. Though I can't say whether or not I have noticed this to be true. Still a newbie when it comes to WS tomatoes.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 7:45PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Remember that when you see a spout, the germination process has been going on for a day or so. In some cases it can take weeks or months. I think I saw a video of Trillium germination that took several months. So, the weather on the day you actually see the sprout may not be telling the whole story. Of course, there are many seeds that will germinate very quickly, as well. It's part of that fascinating miracle of science.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Whew! I see some tomato and pepper sprouts today; not a lot, but it's something.

Thank you all again for the reassurances. I admit I was starting to get really really worried, but I should have known you guys were right. :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 9:38AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Most of my tomatoes came up over the course of two weeks and one straggler just popped up a few days ago. Now I'm waiting for second leaves, which an internet search said can take about a month. It's been nearly that long and the cherokee purples are beginning second leaves and hopefully the rest are soon to follow.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 10:52AM
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