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Yeah, soft water (the kind with with extra sodium in it) causes problems with vegetables like tomatoes. They're more salt-tolerant than some plants, but yeah, you don't want to use soft water on tomatoes. I wouldn't recommend it on any plants, personally. That's probably the problem.jmsieglaff wrote: ↑Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:27 pmI use unsoftened tap water to water all my seedlings. I never have used distilled water, I'd imagine some mineral content to the water isn't a bad thing, otherwise it may leach more out of the medium (same reason people shouldn't drink distilled water--but I don't know). Softened water will definitely have considerably more sodium than unsoftened, I'd switch to plain tap water, I wonder if they are getting too much sodium into the medium and that's throwing something in the plants off.
You should know that plants that have more sodium are more prone to being over-watered (and the roots are more prone to rotting, in my experience). Salt makes plants think they have more water than they do.
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet
Other thoughts -- what are you using for seed starting medium? Too wet, too dry? Years ago I always used JiffyMix, then couldn't find the same blend anymore. Tried a bunch of different ones, and the current favorite is Pro-Mix Organic potting mix with added perlite. I get these at Menards, so they are pretty easy on the budget, too. I also like Burpee's (coir) Organic Seed Starting Mix, but it also seems to change, so that now it needs added fertilizer for the seedlings really quickly. They use compost in it for fertilizer, and I believe that it causes the changes in performance. (?)
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My procedure for the T5HO fixture is seeds directly into two inch soil blocks, various depth depending on seed type, and a plastic dome. Heat mat under set at optimal for that plant, that would be 80f for tomatoes for me. As soon as the blocks show some emerging loops, I remove the dome and put under the light. The light will be about 6" above plants. As the season goes on and the cellar warms and there are more and bigger plants, it is a balancing act. It takes some rotating, but I have had ten 1020 trays going under that single 4' 4 bulb T5HO. The strictest rule for success is bottom water only after sprouting, and not too much.
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