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Cole stems are thread-thin :(

Posted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:24 pm
by TheWaterbug
So I started some broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts seeds in some starter cups about 6 weeks ago and [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=38722]transplanted them about 4 weeks ago[/url]. I planted too many seeds/cup (~5 seemed to sprout in each) and I thinned down to one plant about 2 weeks ago.

The arugula seems to be growing OK, but many of the cole plants have these little, thread-like stems. These two look like they've been nibbled:
[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/TinyStem1_web.jpg[/img]

and

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/TinyStem4_web.jpg[/img]

but this one _doesn't_ look chomped, but it's still too thin to hold the plant upright. It's growing, but it's kinda laying down on its side:

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/TinyStem2_web.jpg[/img]

and

[img]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3552590/TinyStem3_web.jpg[/img]

They were all kinda spindly when I thinned them, and then they just got worse.

I started them in partial sun, then moved them to full sun for 2-3 days before I transplanted. I have them under a [url=https://www.dripworksusa.com/store/agribon.php]lightweight row cover[/url] (allegedly 85% light transmission) to prevent the peafowl eating them, but I still have bugs under there (see last photo).

Did I transplant them too early? Too late? I had little white rootlets coming out the peat cups, so I figured they were ready to go.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:59 pm
by TWC015
My Brassicas occasionally have tiny stems when I plant them out, similar to your plants. The way I deal with this is just mound up the soil to above the tiny part of the stem so they will stand up without falling over. I also have to do this because we have strong wind from cold fronts or thunderstorms in winter and spring. In a few more weeks, the stem should catch up with the leaf growth.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:08 pm
by garudamon11
I can see alot of yucky bugs, maybe they're to blame? they're ugly anyway I don't think you'll lose much if you killed those unpleasant crawling things :oops:

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:05 pm
by RyNJ
Definitely looks like something's eating them. You can put thin cardboard or felt guards around the stems to discourage cutworms and nibblers.

Also, it may have been too hot when you planted them, which would help explain the thin stems. You're in CA, right? I had my broccoli and cabbages out over the summer and that heat severely reduced their vigor. I just pulled those plants and put new seeds in, hopefully to get them growing through the fall.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:31 pm
by rainbowgardener
To me it looks like damping off, especially pictures 2 &3 that show the constriction of the stem. A plant lying flat on the soil is usually a symptom of that. These are plants in the ground? Damping off is a fungal condition that seedlings are vulnerable to in conditions of lots of moisture and humidity and little air circulation. I have to watch out for it, starting seedlings indoors; I've never had any trouble with it outdoors. But these plants are doing so poorly for a month old that you might as well start over.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:42 pm
by TheWaterbug
rainbowgardener wrote:To me it looks like damping off, especially pictures 2 &3 that show the constriction of the stem. A plant lying flat on the soil is usually a symptom of that. These are plants in the ground? Damping off is a fungal condition that seedlings are vulnerable to in conditions of lots of moisture and humidity and little air circulation. I have to watch out for it, starting seedlings indoors; I've never had any trouble with it outdoors. But these plants are doing so poorly for a month old that you might as well start over.
Ah. I just looked at [url=https://www.google.com/search?q=damping+off&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&rls=en&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=-FphTv6EIMynsQLOqoHpDw&ved=0CC4QsAQ&biw=1484&bih=1023]google images of "damping off"[/url], and that looks exactly like what's happening.

I'm guessing it's a combination of over-watering (the dripper is probably on too long/too often) and lack of air circulation because of the row cover.

I'll yank those few and start over.

I've got the dripper on frequently because it's the same timer that waters my pretty large tomato plants, but I just realized that I can keep the same water flow to the tomatoes by adding additional individual drippers while reducing the timer length/frequency, whereas I can't really do much with this bed because it's on a drip-a-long hose.

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:27 pm
by TWC015
I forgot to mention that when I was referring to my plants, they often look like those in the last two pictures, where the stem is small, but it doesn't look damaged. When my plants look like this, they usually turn out to be normal. I haven't had any look like the other pictures.

Posted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:04 am
by rainbowgardener
oh yes, constant drip irrigation and row cover would definitely explain how seedlings outdoors could get damped off!