jdf10986
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Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Hello,
I am trying to sprout seeds for my garden this year and having a lot of difficulty! For the past two seasons I lived in Denver and had no trouble growing healthy plants from seedlings indoor. This season, I am in a new house in Sacramento, California, and nothing seems to germinate.

I have two trays of a variety of vegetables. The seeds were planted in seed starter soil. I have two grow lights above the seeds on a timer. Most of the seeds have not sprouted. My Zinnia did sprout 3 days ago, only to have keeled over and wilted today.

I am not sure what variable is causing the seeds to stay dormant, or die as soon as they start to germinate.

I have never needed a heating mat in the past, but wondering if temperature may be the missing piece of the puzzle?

Any suggestions are welcome!

gumbo2176
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

What vegetable seeds are you talking about? Some seeds just take longer than others to break ground. Are they fresh seeds or old? Old seeds are a hit or miss is my experience. Are you keeping the medium moist to encourage sprouting?

I put my seeds directly into the garden and so far I've only had to replant the pole beans since the first attempt didn't do squat, and they were fresh seeds meant for this season. The second planting has been busting through the past 3 days and looks like all is right in the world

pepperhead212
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

So what are the seeds that aren't sprouting, what is the temperature you are using for germination, and how long has it been since they were planted? Some seeds pop right up, even at lower temps, while some, like peppers, need heat, like in the 80s, and even then can be slow.
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applestar
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

I agree with the initial assessment and queries above — What kind of seeds? What kind of temperatures?

Also “keeled over” sounds like damping off, usually due to cooler temp and over-moist medium, too high humidity....

OR ... what are the “grow lights” you are using?
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

woIf the seedlings sprouted and then keeled over, I am thinking the media is too wet. If I remember there is a lot of bleach in California water. Try leaving the water to sit out for a day or two to let the chlorine levels diminish and use a water filter on your faucet.
I don't use seed media or peat pots. It is too wet for me. I just use regular potting soil and trays or cups. Don't over water.
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jdf10986
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Thanks for the responses. I have a few different seeds: tomato, peppers, shiso, thai basil, viola, thai chili pepper.
My initial attempt was exactly a month ago. I think that media may have gotten too wet. I started again 2 weeks ago, and nothing sprouted. They're all fresh seeds packed for this year.

I'm misting the soil every day if it looks dry, but trying to avoid overwatering

Thanks

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Well misting isn't the same as watering. It could be too wet on the surface and still too dry underneath. I find that for seed starting, bottom watering works best. All the pots are in trays. I just pour a little bit of water into the tray, just enough so that it hits the bottom of the pots, so the soil can wick it up. I do mist the surface if I have seeds that need light to sprout and are just sitting on the surface, until they are sprouted.

People were right that said "keeling over" sounds like it could be the fungal disease called damping off. The little stems get slightly browned and pinched in just above the soil surface and then they can't support the plant:

Image

Once they do that, they are goners. It can be prevented, but not cured. It is a result of too much moisture and too little air circulation. Correcting those conditions prevents it. A pinch of cinnamon powder in a pitcher of water that they are watered with helps too, since cinnamon is a natural anti-fungal.
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MoonShadows
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Does the house in Sacramento have a sodium based water softener? The sodium in the water will not allow the seedlings to take up water and they die. That may also explain the "keeling over."
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jdf10986
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Hmm, thanks for those suggestions. I'm not sure about the water softener, but I don't think there is any water softener.
I will give a try to the cinnamon added to the water to help with the "keeling over."

However, my biggest problem seems to be that the seeds haven't even started to germinate. The zinnia did germinate, then die. but, thinks like tomato & peppers & basil seem dormant.

Thanks for everyone's responses

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help with Seed Starting -- Nothing sprouting!

Well as you suggested the first time, temperature may be the problem. I don't know what is different between the seed starting you used to do in the old place and now (draftier?), but all those things you mentioned, tomatoes, peppers, basil, definitely need warmth to sprout. Tomatoes do best with a soil temperature about 80 deg F, peppers at 85. They usually will germinate at temps down to 70, but slower. Basil will sprout at soil temperature of 70-75 degrees.
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