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Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

Posted by nutsaboutflowers 2b/3a (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 13, 10 at 19:28

O.K. I've read the posts about starting seeds, followed the rules as best I could, and still ended up with dead seedlings.

I started germination in our warmest room, the ensuite, and once I had a few plants pop up, I put them in the basement with plenty of light less than 2" away. I used cinnamon and garlic to prevent damp-off, and thought I had succeeded. I had cute little marigolds with 6 leaves, and only one morning glory, but with a few beautiful leaves. I started wondering if I was watering too much after reading a bunch of posts, so cut down, and now my babies appear to be dead.

How many of you succeeded your first time? So many people seem to start from seed, it must be worth the work involved, right?

I think I should try again. ???

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

How did they look dead?

Limp and fell over in a uniform pattern? or like they were pinched at the lower end of the stem?

What soil mix did you use?

How was the air circulation?

This will help narrow down your root causes of your failed attempt.

and it is NEVER too late, we all had bad first runs and continue to try new things that thrive or fail

Keep your head up, we are all hear to help and we will get to the bottom of it to help you try again : )


RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

Do not get discouraged; I didn't fail my first time, even worse, I failed many other times that weren't my first time. So that just goes to show that even experienced seed starters can fail. We'll do our best to try and help you. Hang in there!

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

I overwatered a bit this year and started to get some damping off. Fortunately we've been having great weather so I was able to put the trays outside to dry out & bake in the sun. I lost a few to not being hardened off, but so far I've stopped the damp off from spreading.

More entertainingly, during this drying out attempt I left the trays outside and the temp dropped a bit lower than expected in the night. I thought some of my herb seedlings that had just sprouted died. So, I dropped more seeds (2 basils & oregano) into the pot to get them restarted. An hour later I took a closer look and realized that the seedlings had survived after all. So now, my pots are about to get VERY crowded.

So, lesson: don't be afraid to restart dead seedlings, but make sure they're really dead first!

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

This is my first year as well and I'm finding it harder than I expected. So far I've:

1) Started my tomatoes and peppers too late.
2) Started my zucchini and cucumbers too early.
3) Set my broccoli seedlings outside on a sunny day where they blew off the shelf and instantly became compost.
4) Bought insufficient lights at too high a price.
5) Bought a shelving unit too narrow.
6) Planted my zucchini too early where it got hit by frost.
7) Set my tomatoes out on a sunny day--out of the wind this time--where the tops got bitten off by bugs.
8) Am officially on my 7th or 8th trip to the home improvement store to either buy plants/new lights/return shelves/more dirt/more pots, and I think I've sunk in about 4 years worth of plant money trying to "economically" grow from seed.

But I'm determined to keep trying. I'm reminding myself that every experience I learn something, and despite it all, I am having fun. Plus, pouring through seed catalogs and planning out my garden in the cold months of December make it all worthwhile.

Keep trying! Maybe post a picture of your dead seedlings if they're still around. I'm sure with a photo, the knowledgeable people on this forum can tell you what went wrong.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

It can seem less economical when starting out; but, if you plan to start from seed for several years, I think the cost will amoratize to where you should come out ahead over time. That's how I justify it to myself every time I buy something else, anyway. :)

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

LOL, that's what I'm telling myself, too. It's an investment in the future!

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

My computer won't do pictures, or maybe it's just me but.....

I used Pro-Mix seed starting mix.

I have a 2 foot and a 4 foot fluorescent fixture, with grow lights in one and full spectrum tubes in the other. They pretty much light up the whole basement. I have them on a timer for 16 hours. I kept them about 2 inches above the seedlings, maybe less. Can they be too close?

I used cinnamon and garlic water to prevent damp-off.

I didn't have a fan, but there's a vent approximately 5 feet away and we have a heat recovery ventilator, so although there wouldn't be a large amount of air movement, there is some.

I spritzed once or twice a day and also watered every few days or so when I thought it might be needed.

I used coco pots, which I think led to my seedlings' demise. I think they suck the moisture from the soil?

Also, after reading a few posts, I thought maybe I was overwatering, so I slowed it down.

Now my seedlings are crispy and dead, hee, hee! Obviously I went from one extreme to the other. BTW The marigolds were only about 2 inches tall, or less, with 6 leaves. I planted them on March 20th. Does that seem right?

Does everyone agree that my watering may have been the problem?

I think I'll try again. This time I'm going to use plastic trays that friends kept from those precooked chickens people buy at the grocery store. Then I should be able to regulate the dampness of the soil better?

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience. Cont'd.

Boy, some of you girls/guys must have a much higher frustration threshold than I do, hee, hee!

Some of your experiences are rather amusing, and really encourage me to do the "if at first you don't succeed..."

Thanks for sharing =:)

I look forward to further comments.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

Take a look at the Winter Sowing forum. You will be glad you did.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

The "spritzing twice a day" makes me think they were getting too much water. I am using the small peat pots, 10 pots per two-row strip. I think they're about 1 1/2 inch pots. I water those only about once or twice a week, but I water thoroughly with a pump sprayer then let the excess sit in the bottom of the tray where they are probably soaking up from the bottom in between. And I've got mine in my garden shed, which might be on the chillier side than your growing area. What's odd is that yours seemed to go from too wet to crispy so quickly. Could it be an issue with heat maybe?

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

Yes, I agree that your watering schedule was a bit off along with your choice of pots.

Everything else seems right on.

I only bottom water when the top 3/4 of the soil is dry... no in-between spritzing, unless they are very young impatiens or begonias.

I also only use plastic pots or cups.

I would try again, maybe with some fast growing zinnias that are quite hardy/tolerant. Just make sure your pots have proper drainage (not standing in water) and you wash everything that was in contact with your sick/dead seedlings just incase you had damp off.

I would hold off on the cinnamon and garlic.

Once you have damp off, you really cant get rid of it, just slow its migration to other seedlings.

Good Luck and let us know how it goes :)


RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

You know what I think? I think you were never overwatering. I think you just thought you were overwatering after reading all the damping off horror stories. You said you changed your watering habits after reading the posts, not because of some issue with your seedlings. I'm sure they died from lack of water if you describe them as 'crispy'. No damping off I ever saw looked crispy, they looked boggy and rotten. I absolutely believe that with young seedlings, with the light close to the soil, in coco pots, in a heated home, you needed to water as much as you were. If I were you, I'd start over with some small (3-5 oz) paper cups. Cheap, easy to find, don't take up much space with the small number of seeds you want to start. JMHO.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

Ooh, Sleepy, that's an interesting thought as well.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

I am using SunGro 830 mix and SSE seeds for the first time. I was told to soak the mix in peat pots for a day before planting, which I did. I planted the seeds as per instructions on the packets and placed on hog heating pads set at 93 degrees in a 3 season room in our home. Peat pots are 3" square set in 18 cell seedling trays and placed in 1020 seedling flats with no holes. I then put Propagation Domes on them. Flats are in front of 2 sets of patio doors, so are getting plenty of natural light. Cucumbers are 2" in 3 days and watermelon just poped thru the ground last night.
I think it is the humidity under the dome with the heat, excellent seeds from SSE and a good starting mix, plus good advice from my local greenhouse. I was told not to add anything to the mix, everything was already in it and was good to go until transplanted.

RE: Discouraged by First Seedling Experience.

  • Posted by sjc48 5 Michigan (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 14, 10 at 16:53

Hi, I'm from the wintersowing forum; I was reading some of the posts here, because I too, sow seeds indoors on HL/GM. After moaning on the WS forum, that I had absolutely no luck with sowing inside, I did a re-think, and actually I've had some pretty amazing successes from inside sowing. I was keying in on all the failures, and there were many, but just as many sucess stories. And wouldn't you know it, this year, both inside sowing and winter sowing were really successful, and I have LOTS of little seedlings! I think there will always be an equal number of succceses and failures, no matter how many years you've been at it. I hope you stay with it; for me, it's one of the best winter pasttimes!
The 4 foot fluorescent lights are what I use, changed every year, and be careful with the watering. And, this I learned this year, keep the soil warm, and the air temp cool. That's really going to help me, as there are some seeds that can't be WSed.
The Winter sowing forum is really great, as are all the others I've gone to on this site. Very informative, and VERY helpful! Good luck with the seedlings!!

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