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Confused about my Seeds

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by steve long on April 05, 2006 03:02 AM
Ok here goes.

Hello all. My first post and its one of help.

I bought myself a heated propogator which I planted up with a number of different Tomato seeds and chilli seeds.

Lots of different variety's.

Now they have all germinated except for 2 which I was very excited about.

Then it all went wrong. All the tomato plants seemed to starting leaning. The propogator is in a utlity room next to a high fridge.

The chilis which were in the pots closer to the fridge went straight up.

They the tomatos start to sort of flop. I left the heat on and read on here that this could cause a drooping effect.

Most of the tomatos ended up almost back on the dirt even though they were 2-3" long. I thought well they look like they are going to die so take a chance and put them into some peat pots.

Things seem to have gotten worse. Most of them have now died or disappeared [Frown]

There are a couple that picked up but they all seem to be wilting now. Too much water, too little water? Not got a clue.

I left the chili's in their original position and they seem to have stayed the same size. The first two feeler leaves (can't remember the names) have grown but nothing more at the moment.

I turned the heat off to try and save the tomatoes but that was no good. The chili's seem to be surviving at the moment. But what also worries me is that the peat pots now have something white around the rim [Confused]

I don't want my chili's to die I have just about given up on the tomato's for the moment as i go on holiday soon so will go for the tomato seeds again afterwards.

So some questions if you guys don't mind answering after the marathon background.

1) Do you think the tomatos were straining for the light?
2) Could it be worth moving the propogator to somewhere more even lighted? (i.e. not in the shadow of the fridge)
3) The temps tonight have been predicted to -3 outside. The utility room should maintain about 5-10 degrees. Is it worth turning the propogator on over night to warm the soil?
4) Is it worth leaving the propogator off (Its not variable) or would the chilli's benefit in it being on permanently?
5) If the chili's start to droop can I recover them?

Thanks for the help all.

by johnCT on April 05, 2006 03:13 AM
Are you using artificial light? What medium are you using to start the seed with?

Leggy seedlings are always caused by insufficient light.

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John - Zone 6
by steve long on April 05, 2006 03:32 AM
Not using Artificial light.

The room gets good light for almost 13-14 hours of the day. Dependant on the weather outside.

Was trying to not spend too much money.

Used a john Innes Seed compost to get it started.
by Deborah L. on April 05, 2006 04:56 AM
Steve, so sorry. I really hope your next try is a success. BTW, my last name is LONG too. What fun-I rarely meet another Long !

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by ChristinaC on April 05, 2006 06:12 AM
How come you have heat on them? They only need heat to germinate!
My tomatoes do great growing at 68-70 degrees. If I find the room gets any warmer than that..I crack the window.
Good luck Steve!


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by Frann on April 05, 2006 08:12 AM
The heated propogator is a fast way to start off your seedlings, but once you see a few sprouts you should really turn the heat off. Also, if the propagator has a cover, you should remove it ... otherwise it'll be far too warm and most plants will perish.
A question about your light source: if it's a north facing window, the plants won't get the sunlight they require; your best bet is to move them to a southerly window. Same goes for the chillies.
Re: the white stuff around the edge of the peat pots, if it looks white and cottony, it's probably a fungus -- and they thrive in moist, high-humidity situations. Maybe you're over-watering (?)

'Hope this helps

by PAR_Gardener on April 05, 2006 09:59 AM
The seedlings got long because they were stretching for the light. The room may get good light, but the seedlings need direct sunlight or artificial light within 2" of the leaves.

It's ok for tomatoes to get a little "leggy" because you plant them up to the first true leaves. But to stimulate stronger stems, they need to be brushed 30 or more times 2 to 3 times a day. I'm lazy so I just plug in an oscillating fan. The air flow is good for the seedlings and it strengthens the stems.

I'm with Frann, the white stuff around the peat pots is mold or fungus, another indication that your plants are not getting enough direct light, and if you're getting mold, then you may have encountered "dampening off". It's a fungal disease that causes the plant to rot at soil level down. Too much moisture or not using a sterile seed starting mix or sterile tray could cause this.

Try moving your surviving plants into a south or west facing window sill. As long as it's not freezing in your house, they'll survive there. Everyone else is right, once they've sprouted, you don't need the heat. Actually, most seedlings grow better if the temps drop after germination.

* * * *
Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.
by johnCT on April 05, 2006 09:23 PM
Doesn't matter how much indirect light they get through windows. It still won't be enough. And like Christina said, no need for bottom heat once the seed germinates.

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John - Zone 6
by steve long on April 07, 2006 02:21 AM
Well thank you all for the advice.

I didn't know that you need to turn the heat off so you live and learn.

The chilli's seem to be surviving at the moment.

Thank goodness. I guess I must have over watered the tomatoes which is a real shame. But hey. I am off on holiday in a few weeks and have time when I get back to try another batch.

Deborah, my surname is long. Has been all my life [Wink] There are a few of us out there [Big Grin]

The window is a southern facer. So the light does come in but not direct sunlight.

Am going to put the chili's out into the greenhouse before we go on holiday in the hope no frosts come in.

They will get direct sunlight then. Hopefully enough to get them nice and strong.

I guess in the UK here it must be better to start certain seeds off later in the season because of the late frosts.

I am impatient though [Wink]

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