Seed starting problems or normal?

Salaam
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Seed starting problems or normal?

#1

Post: # 43116Unread post Salaam
Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:29 am

Hello all,

Here's a photo if my setup. Started lettuce and eggplant on March 3, peppers and more eggplant March 13 and 15.
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I think I had the medium too wet March 3 - I wet soil and then flooded the trays with a couple of inches of water. So after a week or so later I emptied the trays of water and tried to keep the soil just 'moist'.

The lettuce seems spindly, the eggplant okay. All under the Mars Hydro TS1000. I've set the light at the recommended height of 24" at full power for seedlings. Let's see how it goes.

Lettuce
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Eggplant
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#2

Post: # 43118Unread post brownrexx
Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:53 am

I only have a small set up but I think that I have my lights closer to the plants than you do. I actually moved the lights down one link in the chain after taking this picture to show the plants.

This is head lettuce, romaine and bok choy. I will make room for tomatoes in about 2 weeks.

ImageLettuce & Bok Choy by Brownrexx, on Flickr
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#3

Post: # 43120Unread post mama_lor
Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:12 am

With lettuce I noticed, that if it's warm when it's small it will get leggy no matter what almost, strong light only will mitigate this (like the sun).
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#4

Post: # 43121Unread post Salaam
Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:17 am

brownrexx wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:53 am
I only have a small set up but I think that I have my lights closer to the plants than you do. I actually moved the lights down one link in the chain after taking this picture to show the plants.
I put the fluorescent lights close - within one or two inches. But these led lights are not meant to be close.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#5

Post: # 43124Unread post MissS
Wed Mar 17, 2021 11:17 am

Salaam wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 10:17 am
brownrexx wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:53 am
I only have a small set up but I think that I have my lights closer to the plants than you do. I actually moved the lights down one link in the chain after taking this picture to show the plants.
I put the fluorescent lights close - within one or two inches. But these led lights are not meant to be close.
You are right with the lights. You can keep fluorescents closer to the plants than you can with LED's. Closer, the LED's will burn your plants.

My lettuce seedlings always look like yours. I just top them off with a little more potting mix when they go out to harden off and they grow just fine. Everything looks good.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#6

Post: # 43128Unread post Salaam
Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:41 pm

I forgot to mention that at least three of the lettuce seedlings just fell over like the one on the left in the photo. The healthier looking one on the right side is a lettuce seedling that had fallen over that I replanted deeper.
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I wonder about my watering... When I plant the seeds I first fill the containers with soil, then wet the soil completely, then drop the seed(s) in, then add a little bit of soil to cover the seed with the amount of soil depending on the type of seed, and then add a bit more water on top. I am finding this stays wet (more than moist) for 2-3 days at least. Do you guys use this much water or am I putting too much water by thoroughly wetting the soil at first?
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#7

Post: # 43142Unread post MissS
Wed Mar 17, 2021 5:04 pm

Wetting the soil the first time is enough. Once the seed germinates then try to switch over to bottom watering your plants. Keeping the top of the soil moist encourages damping off disease. Try propping the little fallen over plants with a toothpick so that they don't lie on the surface and get damping off.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#8

Post: # 43323Unread post zendog
Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:05 pm

I find that it is harder to manage moisture with tiny seedlings in larger pots so I start them in small cells and then move them up when they have some size. Then the seedling will start using a bit more of the water in a larger pot. A tiny seedling in a big pot will hardly use any of the water in a large amount of soil so you are basically just waiting for the medium to dry from evaporation which can takes days if not a week unless you have it in really low humidity environment.

If you don't have a fan going already, I would get one started to have a gentle breeze going over them. That will help dry down the soil a bit, plus the motion will get you stronger stems.

Finally, when you bottom water try about 1/4 inch of water in the tray first and then wait about a half hour. If it doesn't get a slight dampness at the surface, you can add a bit more water. Next time follow the same process but start with what you think will work based on the previous watering. Do this until you figure out the right amount of water since to water with. It is easy to really soak them with bottom watering when you are anxious to see it getting to the top. I now have it dialed in so that I know exactly how high to fill a little watering can I use for a 72 cell insert in a 10X20 tray, which really helps keep from overwatering.

As other said, they look pretty good, but watch the moisture and possible damping off.

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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#9

Post: # 43393Unread post Bower
Sun Mar 21, 2021 7:27 pm

I agree with zendog about the size of pots for small seedlings. In my cool seed starting environment it's too easy to overwater in a larger sized pot. Peaty mixes are especially tricky and always tend to alternate between being too wet or too dry. Smaller cells is a better situation for the wee plants.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#10

Post: # 43425Unread post Salaam
Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:08 am

Error post but can't delete!
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Last edited by Salaam on Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#11

Post: # 43426Unread post Salaam
Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:09 am

Thanks, everyone! Yes, I think getting the amount of moisture right is tricky. Needs experience that I don't yet have. I've only started seeds once before and that was eight years ago. And we only do this once or so a year! But I'm determined to do as much as possible this year, including starting indoors throughout the summer.

Humidity currently ranges between 19 and 31%. Temperature between 72 and 88. I've got a natural gas heater hanging on the ceiling of the garage that blows air across the room at about nine feet high. I'm going to get a fan.

An update...

1. Eggplant and lettuce started in the same tray in same size pots. Three out of four eggplants have germinated, but only six or so out of 30-40 lettuce seeds.

2. Hungarian hot wax peppers are at about 50% germination. Shepherds and sweat yellow wax are at 0%. One D'Espelette hot pepper has germinated out of 16. All of these have about the same environment - pot size, watering, medium, etc.

3. I've now started paper towel germination as a backup!
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#12

Post: # 43427Unread post mama_lor
Mon Mar 22, 2021 10:23 am

Probably not the best lettuce seeds. I've always been impressed by the germination on these things, they're up in two days usually and germination keeps high during the years. Maybe it's too hot for them also? Room temps should be fine.
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#13

Post: # 43430Unread post Salaam
Mon Mar 22, 2021 12:33 pm

Maybe it's the big pots. I put them in big pots because I was planning I test growing them fully indoors and I didn't want to re-pot. I'll try some in flats and see what happens.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#14

Post: # 43915Unread post Salaam
Mon Mar 29, 2021 5:19 pm

An updates and a couple of questions. Things are going well now. The problem was over watering. I am now quite a bit better at estimating how much water is required and the germination is going well.

The two seeds that gave me particular problems apart from the lettuce are Hungarian sweet pepper and Shepherd pepper. I tried to germinating them along with other seeds using the paper towel message and that's what verified that these seeds were tough to germinate. The hot peppers germinated much faster than these two.

I have a question about petunias that I seeded densely. When and how should I think them? I think I should thin quite a few of them now with small pair of scissors. What do you think?
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The photo below is of the fast germinating Russian Saskatchewan tomatoes started exactly 10 days ago.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#15

Post: # 43971Unread post Bower
Tue Mar 30, 2021 7:34 pm

IDK about the petunias, but what I would do with the stubborn pepper seeds is soak them overnight before you plant, and be as patient as you can. Old seeds will sometimes germinate weeks later than fresh ones. You may need to get extra seeds (fresh ones) as a backup in case you don't get many... I didn't see your heat mat setup but bottom heat makes a big difference to peppers. I have germinated seeds without it but they took weeks longer.
As for lettuce, the seeds require some light to germinate. Best to barely sprinkle with a little soil and keep moist until they sprout and develop first true leaf. After that they are easy to prick out and plant a bit deeper. Or make a shallow groove in the soil and place your seed at the depth but don't cover it over until they've germinated.
I believe your lettuce seedlings may be falling over due to the heat though. They do well at much lower temperatures, and higher relative humidity.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#16

Post: # 43991Unread post MissS
Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:35 am

I thin my petunia's at this stage. They grow so fast that if you wait too long you are just forced to plant them in little clumps. Scissors a toothpick or a Bic pen cap work well for this. Their roots go much deeper than you think so go deep when you move them.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#17

Post: # 43996Unread post Salaam
Wed Mar 31, 2021 11:42 am

I've thinned the petunias. Much better now!

I'll try soaking the peppers overnight and then putting them on paper towels.

I noticed that when I place the paper towel container somewhere extra warm, say about 90 F, I get the beginnings of black mold in the form of black spots. And this seems to happen only around some batches of seeds. For example I have three different sweet pepper seeds in a container and I'm getting black mold only around the Jimmy Nardellos. But if I move the container to somewhere around 75 or 80°, then the mold decreases.

I had the temperature of the seedling area ranging from about 27 to 32 degrees Celsius but now I have reduced it to about 23 to 28 degrees Celsius. You reduced temperatures don't seem to have reduced germination so I think that's a healthier range.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#18

Post: # 44418Unread post Salaam
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:03 pm

Everything going well now. Here are a couple of photos. The tiny seedlings - three per hole - are kale and are my best germination so far - 100%!

I'm going to start the rest of my sheets today and tomorrow Kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, lettuce, basil, Xenia and Cosmos flowers. I think that's it. After they germinate in a week or so I hope then I plan to turn down the temperatures to moderate growth to about 18 to 20 Celsius and wait until May 24th.
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Re: Seed starting problems or normal?

#19

Post: # 44803Unread post Salaam
Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:11 pm

waiting a complemore days for enough Zinnia and Cosmos to germinate, and I'll turn down the temperature-and decrease the light.

The question is how much? If I set the garage thermostat at 45°F, I think the temperature will not fall below 50°F given it's an attached and insulated garage. Daytime temperatures will probably average around 65°F. Humidity is 35-45%. Does that seem reasonable? And lights set at 14 hours?
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