Greenhousesalsa
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Location: Apache County, Arizona

Why is nothing growing?

To give some background, last year, I planted (too early I might add) my veggie seeds in peat pots in an indoor greenhouse with a grow light. In 3 days I had sprouts. These all grew so well, I had to repot 3 times before our weather was warm enough to plant in my big containers outside in the greenhouse. Had a bumper crop of everything.
Fast Forward to this year...I started my seeds a little later, not wanting to do all the repotting again. In fact, I planted them 4/8.
We are talking about 5 different types of tomatoes and a variety of peppers.
They sprouted after about 10 days. The Big Jim chilies never did sprout, so I had to replant more seeds that came up in about 8 days.
I put them in their forever pots in the greenhouse in late May. Still had to be careful about frost, and I used a frost blanket and heater.
Today is June 13th and I have tomato plants 3 inches tall, with tiny, tiny leaves and the peppers have never gotten over an inch. Only a couple of the tomatoes have their "true leaves."
I planted the cucumbers outside and also their leaves are tiny, and only about 3 inches tall.
I planted squash and lettuce seeds outside in the same soil and they are going like crazy.
What is going on with my plants?
Have pretty much decided that if I don't see something going on by the end of the week, I am going to the local nursery and buying them. Upsets me, as I enjoy selecting different types of tomatoes and peppers that are not available locally.
Any ideas?
I planted all of the plants with crushed egg shells. Have used a fertilizer similar to Miracle Grow, one time.
They are on a drip system, in fabric pots. I only water when I use the "finger test" to make sure they are not too wet.
Used Kellogg soil for potting and above ground gardens....same as I used last year.
Everything I have done is the same as last year.
I have replanted more seeds inside, using the sterile seed planting soil. Once again, they are not sprouting after 8 days.
I am in the mountains of Arizona. Our growing time is limited, even with the greenhouse. I don't want to be harvesting green tomatoes in late October!
Any advice would be most appreciated.

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jal_ut
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

I dunno ........ there is at times bad seed. I have seen that a few times. The "seed" just won't germinate.

OK, I am going to suggest, get a box of 5 oz. plastic cups. Get a bag of potting soil. Punch a hole in the bottom of the cup and fill it with the potting soil. Wet the soil down and next day plant your seeds in these cups. 2 seeds per cup. Whatever comes can grow in the cup until planting out time. No other transplanting necessary. Enjoy!

You say you have some plants germinated but they are not growing? Plant them out and water well. It is possible the potting mix they are planted in is short of nutrients.

When planting greenhouse grown plants out, they sometimes can't take the bright sun and shrivel up. You can get them adjusted by taking them out just an hour before sunset and increase the length of the out time each day for a few days.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

If your plants are healthy, but only 3 inches tall, and you only fertilized once with a water soluble and you have only eggshells. I would say nitrogen is your limiting factor of growth. Overpotting will also cause problems, since the soil will sour from being wet too long. It is one of the reasons I prefer to use community pots rather than plant singles.

If you are using the same seed mix, exactly like last year, I don't know if the weather played a part in the slow growth rate. However, having a proper pot size and fertilizing regularly after the leaves appear is important.

Seeds don't require fertilizer the first week or two since the seed itself will provide all it needs to get started. I usually put osmocote in my starter mix. 50/50 peat lite. (this is a lite mix that drains very well, you can go 60/40 if you are better at watering than I am.) I mix about 1/4 cup of osmocote in every 5 gallon bucket of mix. I start seeds in 4 inch community pots. Anywhere from 4-50 seeds in a pot. It takes up less space. I don't have frost so I start them outdoors when the temperature is minimum 68 degrees. Tomatoes and cucumbers will start at 50 degrees, but peppers like 70. Your greenhouse temperature should be similar. I transplant to 4 inch pots once the seedlings have true leaves. I use the same potting mix as the starter.

I don't use seed starting mix. It is expensive and unnecessary. If I use MG potting soil as a starter mix, I add more perlite as it holds more water than I like in small pots. I still add the osmocote. MG potting soil usually only has enough fertilizer for a couple of weeks unless it is the one that says it feeds for 3 months.

When tomatoes are ready to go out to the 18 gallon pots, I put 1/2 cup of fertilizer. I have used expert tomatofood (9-12-12), or vigoro citrus food (6-4-6), because that is usually the low numbered plant foods I have around. If I use numbers over 10 like 10-20-20 plus micros, I would use 1/4 cup. the fertilizer can be banded, cached, or mixed into an 18 gallon pot. I do not add lime but if it makes you feel happy you can add a handful of gypsum or lime for calcium. I grow heat tolerant tomatoes and 18 gallon pots dry slower, so I don't have many issues with BER. Plant the tomatoes as deep as you can. I use MG potting soil for the pots, not moisture control. I cut the bag to fit the top of the pot and place the white side up to conserve water and block some of the weeds. I water daily, hence, why I need a well drained mix and no moisture control. At first flowering I give each pot about 2 tablespoons of 6-4-6, at first fruit it gets another dose and then monthly thereafter.

Kellog soil, I think of more as compost than as soil. I do use Kelllog's amend and N'rich in my garden but only as compost, I don't consider it fertilizer. I grow my tomatoes in pots so I use synthetic fertilizer. Vigoro citrus food has slow nitrogen.

In the soil, I only add nitrogen because that is all it needs according to my soil test. In my community garden, my soil is very alkaline with a pH of 7.8 so I have switched from the local compost which has a pH of 8.13 to peat moss to bring the pH back down. I use sulfate of ammonia for the nitrogen source. In my acidic garden that tested at pH 6.0 this year, I am still adding the alkaline compost, but since I don't use urea, I did add chicken manure for the first time in a long time since chicken manure has added calcium and will raise the pH about a half a point. BTW pH 6.0 is perfect for my soil, I just don't want it going lower.

Eggshells will take a long time to break down. However, if your nutrients are out of balance say from adding lime to prevent BER, and if you added enough, and with the use of mainly compost, your pH may be making nitrogen less available. High pH and high phosphorus will tend to make nitrogen less available. Small plants, stunted plants are usually a nitrogen problem.
Compost is not fertilizer and you have to fertilize more than once especially if you are going the organic route and your garden is less than 3 years old.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Jal_ut -- don't you think this could be the reason for Greenhousesalsa also?

Subject: BEANS. First harvest of the year.
jal_ut wrote:Oh WOW! Very nice. I can't get much to grow this year. Its been wet and cool and windy. Here it is the 13th of June and still raining today. Temperature is 47 degrees.
Maybe you are not too far away from each other across the states, mountaintop to mountaintop?

I was going to say here in NJ, we have had some below average temperatures too far into the season also, with 46°F just last week. James has mentioned that can happen where he lives, but usually not here. :shock:
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

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jal_ut
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

"Maybe you are not too far away from each other across the states, mountaintop to mountaintop?"

I am in very Northern Utah in Cache County and my lot sits at 5000 ft elevation. He is at least 400 miles South of me. Not sure where in the county he resides and his county covers the whole length of the state. I also don't know his altitude. Our climates could be a whole lot different?

Here at 3:50 PM the temperature is 60 degrees F. We had 0.93 in the rain gauge this morning. 43 degrees at sunup this morning. Nothing is growing. Too cool. We have the water, now we need some heat.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

Greenhousesalsa
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Location: Apache County, Arizona

Re: Why is nothing growing?

Thanks to all of you for your imput.
Think you hit on some ideas...over-potting and nitrogen.
Last year I had to repot 3 times before I could put in the big pots in the greenhouse. This year, I put them out too early. They already seemed to have stopped growing then, but our weather was nice and I took the risk. Then it got cold and snowed.
I bought plants at the nursery today. Slim pickings this late in the season.
I also got some good fertilizer with lots of nitrogen. The fertilizer I had used, while a product of Miracle Grow, had less nitrogen than actual Miracle Grow.
I haven't given up on my tiny plants yet. Got the new ones as back up. If they all grow I will be happy.
We are at 7000 ft. Soil is clay covered with volcanic rock. That is why I grow in pots, in a greenhouse.
Thanks again for all your help. I will let you know.

lala01
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

I'm a beginner gardener and probably have nothing helpful to add, but just thought I'd mention that I had nothing but trouble earlier in the season with fabric pots. I was using the Smart Pot brand. Everything sprouted and looked great for about a week, but then seemed to stop growing altogether. Everything was alive and green, but just not getting bigger.. same size for nearly a month. They all had full sun, warm weather, plenty of water, organic potting mix and organic fertilizer. Every time it rained, a weird mold/fungus would appear all over the sides and bottom of the pots. They were sitting on a large cast iron table with a lattice top that allowed them to drain easily. I knew the "soil" in my yard was basically just nasty red clay and had no desire (or time) to do anything with it, so I had no intention of ever trying to plant anything in it. Finally, though, I got frustrated and was ready to throw everything out as it was doing nothing but attracting gnats and growing mold. I hated to just dump everything, though, so I just dug holes in the yard and sat the pots in them, then cut away the fabric and pulled it out. I did nothing to loosen the surrounding dirt. I did nothing period except water everything daily. Within one week, everything had grown over 100% larger and now I have tons of maturing squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and early sunglow corn. Can't explain it but very happy.

Greenhousesalsa
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Just a quick update....The nursery stock I bought and put in the fabric pots are growing like crazy, even have flowers on one of the tomatoes.
As for my "babies," they are hanging in there, in smaller pots, but not growing. Even after a good infusion of nitrogen, they don't look well. Putting out a few "true" leaves but they are tiny.
I started the identical seeds in my indoor greenhouse, in sterile seed starter. After 8 days, they are bigger than the ones that I planted 4/8!
I used the Kellogg potting and raised bed garden soil for the original seeds.
I also used it in my raised bed and planted lettuce and squash and they are doing fine.
So....no clue.
At this point, I have tomatoes growing, and a bunch of bell and yellow peppers.
I will miss the Marconi peppers that never grew.
Thanks for all the advice from everyone.

imafan26
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

It is getting to that time of year when it gets too hot to grow a lot of things from seed. Plants kinda know when to grow and seeds will put off sprouting until conditions are right. That is what happens with nasturtiums. The plants go to seed but they won't sprout until the weather cools again next year.

Now through August is the best time to solarize and I can take cuttings from some plants now. I ground layer thyme, marjoram and oregano. Mint can always be divided. Most deciduous shrubs can be propagated now. Once lavender stops blooming it will be a good time to make some cuttings. I can still get eggplant and hot peppers to sprout as well as cucumber and beets but I do not get extreme heat. It only feels that way. I am only getting up to the high 80's, the 90's will come in August. I am getting summer rain, but the grass is dormant so it is seeding but not growing. Yea! Less mowing. Unfortunately weeds like rain no matter what the season, and they are back. I'll have to round up again when the rain stops.

If your temperature is over 90, don't expect a lot of seeds to sprout. If you can wait to plant a fall crop. Otherwise, solarize and do some cleaning up.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Greenhousesalsa
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Just a quick update. The nursery stock I bought as a fill in worked sort of ok. Had a couple of plants produce some decent tomatoes. The seeds I planted in April, that were stunted, took off and are producing like crazy now. The ones I planted in June, I gave to friends and they were doing great until they froze the other day!
We are running behind in our production and it is now almost October. I have a ton of green tomatoes in the greenhouse. Have a heater out there, and so far, so good, no frost but I know they’re on borrowed time. Will be bringing them in the
house probably next week to finish ripening.
I sure learned a lot this year. Plant early, in the house and do a couple of transplants before taking them outside in their big pots, after the last frost (May 30?). Every year I learn something and then mess up something else!
Thanks for all the advice. The over-potting issue and nitrogen did the trick.
I may be canning tomatoes at Halloween!

imafan26
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Make sure you use a potting soil not a soil amendment in your pots. Composts will keep the soil very wet and the seeds could rot. Compost also is alkaline and most plants like it a little acidic. Next time try 50% peat moss and 50% perlite with a couple of handfuls of vermicast in a five gallon bucket. Add a handful of osmocote. Moisten the mix and then put it in cups or small 3 inch pots. I don't like peat pots, they are expensive and they can stay too wet.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Quote: "Jal_ut -- don't you think this could be the reason for Greenhousesalsa also?"

I am sorry, I don't understand Greenhousesalsa.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

lindsay_haak
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Hi, anyone knows where I can find micronized Greensand? I want it to react a bit faster with the soil. I’m not very happy with conventional coarse/sandy Greensand.

lindsay_haak
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Micronized Greensand

Hi, anyone knows where I can find micronized Greensand? I want it to react a bit faster with the soil. I’m not very happy with conventional coarse/sandy Greensand.

ButterflyLady29
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Greenhousesalsa wrote: As for my "babies," they are hanging in there, in smaller pots, but not growing. Even after a good infusion of nitrogen, they don't look well. Putting out a few "true" leaves but they are tiny.
I started the identical seeds in my indoor greenhouse, in sterile seed starter. After 8 days, they are bigger than the ones that I planted 4/8!
I used the Kellogg potting and raised bed garden soil for the original seeds.
I also used it in my raised bed and planted lettuce and squash and they are doing fine.
Raised bed garden soil compacts very quickly in containers. Even mixed with potting soil it still compacts quickly. That and too large of containers is most likely what happened to your seedlings last year. I hope you do better this year.

imafan26
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Garden soil is not potting soil. Garden soil is intended for use in the ground and not in the pots. If you read the bag it will usually tell you it is not for potting. Garden soil has a lot of compost in it which is too heavy for pots. If you want to make a light seedling mix you can make one yourself. I water daily so I need a mix that dries fast. I use 1 part fine peat moss, 1 part perlite, and a handful of vermicompost (if I have it) per 5 gallon bucket. I also put a handful of osmocote in my potting mixes for a starter fertilizer. Moisten the mix before you plant. It keeps the seeds from floating and the soil does not run out the bottom holes as badly. No nitrogen in seed mixes. The seeds will have enough fertilizer built into the seed to get it to sprout and up to the stage where the first true leaves appear. Start fertilizing only after the true leaves appear. I prefer MG 1/4 strength weekly. Make sure you transplant the seedlings out by the time they have 2 sets of true leaves or you may end up with pot bound issues unless you pot up. Too much nitrogen in the starter mix and a heavy mix holding too much water may lead to dampening off where the seeds are inhibited from sprouting because of the rich nitrogen environment or because the seeds rot in a wet soil. Osmocote is a balanced slow release fertilizer an I put it in my mixes because I am not as good as I used to be about fertilizing regularly. If you want to be more organic you can use fish emulsion instead weekly. My neighbors complained about the smell and it draws cats and flies so I only use it when I suspect a nutrient deficiency but don't know which one. If I know it has been a while since I fertilized, I use the miracle grow because it works faster.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

I find that most garden plants can be planted right in the garden where they will be grown. No transplanting. Two exceptions: Tomatoes and Peppers won't make it here with my short season, so we start them early and then transplant them out later. Have fun.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

I agree, if the weather is warm enough, planting them out in the garden is best. Less issues with hardening them off and setting them back. I do start some plants in pots anyway though. I don't like to thin in the garden and even in pots I can still plant more than I can use. For things like beets, lettuce, asian greens and some herbs, I prefer to plant them in starter pots and then transplant them out into the garden or in pots later. Sometimes, I have strays in the garden from seeds I dropped or volunteers. Those I have to repatriate to their proper place.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Greenhousesalsa
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Re: Why is nothing growing?

Took it slower this year. I got my seeds, planted in small peat pots in February.
Have little 4’ greenhouse with gro lights inside. Used the organic sterile seed starter. All of them sprouted and did well. Then I transplanted into bigger pots.
No room in the little indoor greenhouse now, so I took them out to the big greenhouse. Have to tent them every ight, with a heater. Thry are doing really well. They are all about a foot tall now, and very healthy. Will probably transplant into the big 20 gallon pots in a month. Will probably still have to tent, as we can have frost up to Memorial Day. So far, so good.
Last years’ crop was still producing in October, so yes, I was canning then.
Sure learned my lesson about over-potting.
Every year I learn something else.
Thanks for all the advice.
I have also cut down on what I grow in the greenhouse. Peppers have not worked well. Have had huge battles with aphids. Used Neem oil and everything else on the market, and dish soap. Find myself spraying every day. Not worth the expense for 5 or 6 peppers. I do miss the Marconis!

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