Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

Lettuce seedlings questions

So I planted some lettuce seeds on the 12th of November. Now the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, with second set of leaves starting to appear. I planted them in peat pods with 3 to 5 seeds in each, and then planted the peat pods in containers when they started sprouting.

I am growing these indoors under fluorescent lights. I'm using an all-purpose Organic soil from Home Depot that claims to not need fertilizer. I don't water them everyday, only when the soil is dry.

Some of the seedlings are drooping down toward the soil and then coming back up (but look okay), others are standing straight up perfect, and a couple of others shriveled right up.

Are they too close? do I need more water.... less? fertilizer? Should I not have planted them still in the peat pods?

Any answers would be appreciated!

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Sounds like watering may be a bit uneven, and that you may be planted a little tight. Organic soil would not need fertilizer for some time and seedlings of any type should NEVER be fertilized, although organic soil components won't hurt them.

Wilting down to the soil could be damping off, a fungus attack on seedlings, but the general spottiness of response makes me think the soil may be coarse and leaving air pockets that are allowing roots to dry out. Did you press the soil into those peat pots very firmly? Air pockets are sure death to roots; that's the real reason that the tell you to water after planting anything. Not so much about more water as it is about less air! :roll:

HG

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

To correct myself and possibly lessen confusion...
I ment to type "peat pucks" not 'peat pods' (incase that makes a difference). I'm new to this, and I don't know if pods and pucks are considered to be the same thing or not. :)

Thanks for the quick response btw.

I'll try to see if in I can thin the seedlings out a bit, and make sure to water them well, right after.

thanks again
I appreciate your suggestions.

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

By Peat Pucks I assume that you are talking about those Peat Discs that you can buy at nurseries?

The big problem with peat is that you can never really be sure that it is wet all the way through. Therfore, you can get these dry pockets of air. The best thing to do to avoid that is to soak the "pucks" first for at least several hours.

I personally don't recommend using peat because
a) It contains few nutrients
b) The mining of peat from peat bogs poses an environmental hazard

Therefore, I would recommend using cocoa Bean Hulls. You may find them in local nurseries but where I come from, the only place I could find them was (dare I say it?) HomeDepot.

(I also prefer to shop at local nurseries instead of big box stores)

Good luck.

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

WOW
You're from Victoria.
I'm from Victoria.... weeiiiirrrdddd

Thanks for the tip on Peat Pucks. I too am extremely (to the point of nutty) about the environment, and all our animal brothers and sisters...

but didn't know about peat mining! Thanks!

I just thinned all of the lettuce out, but left a few of them so I could grab a snapshot... for a more accurate prognosis.

It's a bit blurry but, tells the tale well....
[url]https://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?&conn_speed=1&collid=54672693807.95913693807.1133240219340&mode=fromsite[/url]

Let me know what yall think

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

Here they are:
[img]https://members.shaw.ca/sitruk/Pics/Legits/legitst-small.jpg[/img]

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Oh, that is STRICTLY photoperiod; these are not getting enough light. As the days get short it really helps to supplement with electric light, especially at this age...

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Hi Leaf,

Where abouts in Victoria do you live. I'm up by UVIC myself. Anyway, you can buy grow lights and the accompanying appartati into which the lights are held. That should provide the proper wavelength of light that your plants are craving and you can turn the lights on (or set a timer) at about 4 pm when it starts to dim a bit.

Though, for future reference: It would be a lot easier to plant a winter vegetable garden (as I did this year) in August-September. You can buy plants from THE GARDEN PATH and dirt cheap prices (and even get 25 dollars worth of free plants if you spend a couple of hourse picking the seedlings for Caroline (the owner)).

Winter lettuces are really yummy not to mention Kales, Swiss Chards, Rutabaga and so on. (You can buy the seeds from Caroline as well, plant them in August).

When I was picking for her, I also grabbed several dozen of the unused seedlings and planted them in my two winter gardens. You would not believe how many winter vegetables I have!

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

The Helpful Gardener wrote:Oh, that is STRICTLY photoperiod; these are not getting enough light. As the days get short it really helps to supplement with electric light, especially at this age...
Thanks for the diagnosis. I actually have them under a 4' fluorescent, hung about 6" above. 12 hours on during day, 12 hours off at night (I only get maybe 1/2 hour of sun in my position). I'm going to assume I have it hung to high?!?
This is a standard fixture with cool-white bulbs.

opabinia51 wrote: Hi Leaf,

Where abouts in Victoria do you live. I'm up by UVIC myself. Anyway, you can buy grow lights and the accompanying appartati into which the lights are held. That should provide the proper wavelength of light that your plants are craving and you can turn the lights on (or set a timer) at about 4 pm when it starts to dim a bit.
I live on Bay St. :) ...
I think I might be cool if I drop them (unless either of you say otherwise). [/quote]
Though, for future reference: It would be a lot easier to plant a winter vegetable garden (as I did this year) in August-September. You can buy plants from THE GARDEN PATH and dirt cheap prices (and even get 25 dollars worth of free plants if you spend a couple of hourse picking the seedlings for Caroline (the owner)).
I don't have any land on which to plant anything, so I have to stick to indoors until then.
Funny you mentioned The Garden Path... I just found them on the net a couple of weeks ago, linked from the Composting Education Centre's website (I'm on a 6 month waiting period for vermi-posting...wow). I was all excited to go buy Organic seeds, then found out they weren't open :lol: ...
Thanks for the Caroline scoop!
Winter lettuces are really yummy not to mention Kales, Swiss Chards, Rutabaga and so on. (You can buy the seeds from Caroline as well, plant them in August).
mmm ya. leaves are good.
Ya I'll definately check out that store when it opens
When I was picking for her, I also grabbed several dozen of the unused seedlings and planted them in my two winter gardens. You would not believe how many winter vegetables I have!
:)

Thanks! Both of you for your help

User avatar
Grey
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1596
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:42 am
Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

Well I'm late responding but yes, those seedlings just need more light.

I'm wondering (since I've never used grow lights but plan to try it next winter, I'm definitely missing my garden) if 12 hours darkness is too much? Since plants do most of their growing at night, if they are lacking in light perhaps they need more time with light so their little plant bodies can catch up with all that night growth?

opabinia51
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Hi Leaf,

You can build your own vermi-bin by buying a tote box from (dare I say it?) Walmart (shudder) and drilling holes in the sides and along the bottom center. Just use some bricks or wood blocks to prop it up and place a disposable aluminium baking dish underneath to collect the "tea."

I can give you some worms from my main compost pile, if you like.

(Leaves work better than newspaper for browns because they break down faster and have more nutrients in them) Lord knows, there is no lack in leaves around now.

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

You want to be at spring or summer hours for seedlings, so more like 14 or 16 hours would be better... cool white bulbs are not going to get you the same results as grow bulbs; they lack certain wavelengths and that might be some of it too...

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

opabinia51 wrote:Hi Leaf,

You can build your own vermi-bin by buying a tote box from (dare I say it?) Walmart (shudder) and drilling holes in the sides and along the bottom center. Just use some bricks or wood blocks to prop it up and place a disposable aluminium baking dish underneath to collect the "tea."

I can give you some worms from my main compost pile, if you like.

(Leaves work better than newspaper for browns because they break down faster and have more nutrients in them) Lord knows, there is no lack in leaves around now.
Thanks a lot for the offer... you have red-wrigglers? If so, I might take you up on that.
The Helpful Gardener wrote: You want to be at spring or summer hours for seedlings, so more like 14 or 16 hours would be better... cool white bulbs are not going to get you the same results as grow bulbs; they lack certain wavelengths and that might be some of it too...
Since then, I planted some new lettuce, dropped the light to within an inch, and set my timers to 18 on, 6 off. They started out okay, but today when I watered them, they collapsed. The stems seem too weak for the amout of leaves they have.
Is 18/6 too much? Would refective mylar surrounding them help?

What exactly is a "growbulb". Daylight?, warmwhite?, or something different?

I have some peas growing in the same fashion and their doing great. Chard as well, but a couple of them are doing the same thing that the lettuce is doing.

Whata think?

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Grow bulbs are usually found at garden centers, but I'll bet you can find them online as well...18 hours is a little excessive; the longest we'll go in the forcing houses is 16. The mylar will help...

Most professional greenhouses use a very fine mist to waterseedlings; are you? That may be your problem...

Scott

grandpasrose
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1651
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Location: Quesnel, BC, Canada - Zone 4a

When I start my seedlings on my plant light stand, I leave the lights on for 14 hours a day. Also, the lights are placed about 4" above them until they have grown to a height that you need to raise them.

I also use capillary mats for watering, you may want to try that, but it's for after the seeds have already sprouted and start growing. When just seeded, and for the first bit after they sprout, fine misting with a spray bottle is all I do. :wink:

Val
VAL (Grandpa's Rose)

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Yep, moisture can be a killer when they are young; damping off is the usual suspect in seedling mortality...

Leaf
Newly Registered
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2005 4:40 am

K thanks.

I spray the area around the stem with a spray bottle, then lightly pour water on the same spot (so the poured water doesn't drain away). Sometimes they collapse.

So should I just be spraying the area around the seedling, without watering down to their roots, or should I spray long enough that the water drains to the roots?

I'd like to use the mat idea, but I have them planted in fours, in 18"/7galon plastic pots.

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Don't worry about lack of moisture, just spray instead of watering. A little less moisture will cause roots to stretch looking for more, and growth pretty much happens in one direction or another, so this might even help some with the stretching. With seedlings it is better to err to dry rather than wet...

If you are really concerned about drying out a humidifier near the plants, or better yet, under a plastic shett with them (humidity tent) will prevent drying out, but now we have to worry more about damping off. I'd just try the spray bottle for a while...

HG

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”