Thornedvine
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Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

Hey everyone! I have a quick question about fertilizing my seedlings with Miracle-Gro all purpose plant food. Its this small yellow box that has blue crystals that go into water. I burnt my other seedlings feeding at NORMAL strength, so I really don't wanna mess up this time. I was wondering, how do I feed my seedlings? They range from tomatoes and cucumbers to flowers. A very small amount of them don't have their true leaves, but most of my seedlings have true leaves. The tomatoes are growing a couple of true leaves. The cucumbers have 1 true leave and NO other leaves because of the burn. If you guys could also show me pictures of at what growth stage of a tomato or such I can feed that would be great! Thank you!! O:)

Taiji
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

I have heard 1/4 to 1/3 normal strength is good for seedlings if the potting soil used doesn't have any fertilizer. That's what I do once true leaves come. Other growers will weigh in too I'm sure. :) Maybe it's best to water from the bottom, or carefully around the plant?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

If they are in potting soil with Miracle Gro, I don't feed them anything else until they are ready to go in the ground. Maybe a little bit of activated compost tea or dissolving a little bit of alfalfa pellets in their water, but very little and very mild. The M-G potting soil is pumping them full of NPK already.
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Taiji
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

I forgot to mention that the instructions on my MG blue crystal fertilizer box also says, only use the 1/4 to 1/3 or maybe 1/2 strength fertilizer water every other watering. Between those waterings, just use plain water. :)

But, as rainbow gardener says, if the soil you're using already has something in it, you don't need to add much of anything. What potting soil are you using?

imafan26
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

seedlings should not need extra fertilizer until they get their true leaves. They should have enough energy stored in their seed for that.

I usually put some slow release fertilizer in my potting mix. I mix my own 50/50 peatmoss/ perlite. The slow release fertilizer will not burn the plant and will be enough to get them through to about 4-6 inches when they should either be potted up or put in the ground anyway.

Too much water or fertizer can cause some problems with some seedlings that don't like a lot of fertilizer to start with.

I prepare the soil that cucumbers and tomatoes go in. Tomatoes are in 18 gallon pots and I give them about 1/2 cup of citrus food 6-4-6 mixed in to the pot or it can be banded. I will give a tablespoon of additional fertilizer when the tomatoe and cucumber start to flower and halfway through the fruit formation and monthly thereafter until the plants are done.

I used to miracle grow my whole yard a few years back. I got a lot of green growth because of the high nitrogen and I only did miracle grow bi monthly. Then we had 42 days and nights of rain. I couldn't miracle grow anything because everything was already too wet. As a result, my orchids bloomed better the next year instead of making keikis. Of course I paid for that the next year with less growth and less flowers. The point is plants do need fertilizer, but don't overdo it.
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Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

Thank you everyone for the great responses. Helped a lot!

Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

So , the instructions tell me to use 1 gallon containers to water with. Would I use 1/3 or 1/4th of the recommended amount into 1 gallon?

Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

@taiji im actually using only peatmoss to grow all of my stuff, its the only thing I could find around here. :(

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

Peat moss by itself really is not good for starting seeds or growing in. Surely you can find something to lighten it up with. I don't know if you have told us where you are located. It would be a big help to change your profile to reflect that. There are hardly any garden questions that can be discussed without regard to location/ climate.

But I looked back and saw that you mentioned a walmart at one point. You know any of the big box stores, you can order on-line pretty much whatever you want and have it shipped to your local store for free and just pick it up from there. I know WalMart.com has perlite, coconut coir, a variety of potting soils, mushroom compost, etc etc. Just order what you want and have it shipped free to your local store.

In the meantime, mixing your peat with crushed lava rock, decomposed granite, coarse sand or whatever you can find would help to improve drainage. Pure peat holds water like crazy, until it starts to dry out and then it sucks water away from your plants and becomes very difficult to wet again.

And your peat by itself is sterile - no nutrients. So you definitely have to be fertilizing your seedlings regularly while they are in sterile medium.
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Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

rainbowgardener wrote:Peat moss by itself really is not good for starting seeds or growing in. Surely you can find something to lighten it up with. I don't know if you have told us where you are located. It would be a big help to change your profile to reflect that. There are hardly any garden questions that can be discussed without regard to location/ climate.

But I looked back and saw that you mentioned a walmart at one point. You know any of the big box stores, you can order on-line pretty much whatever you want and have it shipped to your local store for free and just pick it up from there. I know WalMart.com has perlite, coconut coir, a variety of potting soils, mushroom compost, etc etc. Just order what you want and have it shipped free to your local store.

In the meantime, mixing your peat with crushed lava rock, decomposed granite, coarse sand or whatever you can find would help to improve drainage. Pure peat holds water like crazy, until it starts to dry out and then it sucks water away from your plants and becomes very difficult to wet again.

And your peat by itself is sterile - no nutrients. So you definitely have to be fertilizing your seedlings regularly while they are in sterile medium.

Thanks! I live in Egypt. I mentioned Walmart when I was in America at the time. I only can find sandy soil from my backyard here, but im worried if I do so weeds will keep popping up and then I wouldnt be able to distinguish between them and my ACTUAL seedlings. What do you think? There's really only a couple soils here. Clay soil which is like almost 100% clay. Sandy soil(which my backyard is made up of but somehow everything looks great and produces a lot of fruit because i have a couple fruit trees.) and you can buy peatmoss from some of the nurseries here. Thanks!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

Sorry, I couldn't find anywhere where you told us you were in Egypt. I did skim through your previous posts, but maybe I went too fast.

Your backyard sand would help mixed in with the peat. Just look up pictures of what the seedlings of what you planted should look like to distinguish from weeds.

But still a sterile mix that will require regular fertilizing.
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Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

rainbowgardener wrote:Sorry, I couldn't find anywhere where you told us you were in Egypt. I did skim through your previous posts, but maybe I went too fast.

Your backyard sand would help mixed in with the peat. Just look up pictures of what the seedlings of what you planted should look like to distinguish from weeds.

But still a sterile mix that will require regular fertilizing.
Okay, thank you. I just a couple of my older seedlings using around 1/3 or 1/4th of the recommended dosage. I hope they don't burn or anything. Fingers crossed!

imafan26
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

1/4 to 1/2 strength sounds good but no more than once a week. I still prefer to use a slow release fertilizer instead. It is less expensive in the long run. I do agree with rainbow that peat moss by itself will be too heavy but it is a good medium. Adding 50% coarse sand helps but sand will be much heavier than perlite. If the seedlings are small bottom watering is better but they should not stay in the tray longer than 10 minutes. You don't want to keep the media soggy or you will have problems with dampening off.
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Thornedvine
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

imafan26 wrote:1/4 to 1/2 strength sounds good but no more than once a week. I still prefer to use a slow release fertilizer instead. It is less expensive in the long run. I do agree with rainbow that peat moss by itself will be too heavy but it is a good medium. Adding 50% coarse sand helps but sand will be much heavier than perlite. If the seedlings are small bottom watering is better but they should not stay in the tray longer than 10 minutes. You don't want to keep the media soggy or you will have problems with dampening off.

Thank you! I'm not really sure how often to water them, I usually just stick my fingers into the soil and see if its wet or not. But I also water when I see that theyre wilting. So should I just water when they start wilting? As in get droopy and what not? Thanks!

imafan26
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

It is better to water by feel or weight of the pot. If you lift the pot when it is dry and when it is wet there is a significant difference. You want to wait until the pot is almost dry but seedlings don't like to go as far as wilting.
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Artem
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

I don't fertilize seedlings, I think they don't very need fertilizing until they form several true leaves. But I know, that phosphorus fertilizers sometimes are used at this stage.

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applestar
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

There's a reason for sowing seeds in straight lines or in set patterns. When they come up uniformly, looking the same, it's another way to distinguish the ones that don't look like them as weeds.
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imafan26
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Re: Fertilizing/Feeding Seedlings.

Good tip apple. I actually don't sow seeds in trays or plugs. I make community pots so seeds are scattered and then potted up individually. It saves the most space for my needs since I can put the community pots where there is space on the bench. I only have room on my bench for 4 flats and I have to push things around to get that to fit sometimes. Labeling and dating is important. That, and being able to recognize what the seedlings should look like.

If the OP is using peat moss and lightens it with sand in 50/50 ratio it will help. Seedlings should not need extra fertilizer until they get true leaves although I like to add a slow release (osmocote) to my starter mix so I don't have to supplement with fertilizer. Osmocote won't burn unless a lot is used. I would use 1/4 strength miracle grow for seedlings after they have true leaves if I did not use osmocote. That would be 1/4 tablespoon in a gallon of water. I would only use it once a week while the seedlings are small. I would go to full strength only when the seedlings have a developed root system and are about 4 inches tall, and I would be getting ready to plant them out anyway.

Too much fertilizer or water when seedlings are small will lead to dampening off. Seedlings should not be stressed to the point of wilting, but you need to learn to use your finger or a chopstick or test the weight of the pot to know when it is time to water again. It is hard to say how often to water because it depends on the potting mix, and how fast it dries out.
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