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emmdavies
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HELP! Seedling failure.

I'm new to gardening. I bought some annual flowers that I wanted to start from the seed, and I got these seed starting treys and some soil I had and I looked online and some blogs were saying to cover them with plastic wrap until it sprouts to keep them warm and humid.

Well..I'm afraid I ruined them. The treys and peat pots and the soil is potting soil.
They are sitting on my window sill in the sun and water has collected on the plastic wrap. It looks humid in there for sure but I have no clue if I'm doing this right.

They have been this way for about 3 days. Most of them are said to sprout in 7 days.

So, what should I do?
Help, please??

:oops:

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Meatburner
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emmdavies, they are fine. The plastic is supposed to keep in the moisture and heat. As soon as you see a couple of seeds break ground, uncover them completely. Now they need light and no plastic. Are you using just the outside sun light or do you have lights you can put the seedlings under?

oh, check your computer clock. It shows you posted Thursday March 21st. unless NC doesn't stand for North Carolina. FYI

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IndyGerdener
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WOO SAAAA!!!! Most people have experimented with the pete pots with no luck. They are pretty difficult to keep correctly watered. If they say 7 days give it 14 before you give up. remember as soon as the first seedling comes up take the wrap off. I personally use a under heat as well as a contained area I keep at 82 degrees for my seed starting with fluorescent lights. As I told someone else on here if you are in doubt just start more. run experiments, some things I do people will say never works. Make gardening your own. I try about everything that people suggest sometimes with horrible results, but I have came up with my own way. ZIN ZIN ZIN

Susan W
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Given what you have, you could adjust the cover to not cover totally, and let the tray breath. Against most everyone here, I use peat pellets in trays (10-12). Lots of them, moved about in micro spaces. When sprouting leave the plastic top ajar. If things look funky, too wet, or of course if there is a sign of a sprout, remove it.
Have fun!
Susan

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emmdavies
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Thanks!
And no, I only have natural light and no lamps to help them grow. I am a poor college student and my major takes all the money I have.

I am just concerned that I over-watered them in the first place.

If it looks quite humid in there, should I water? Or how often should I water?

And by using sunlight only, will it take longer for them to sprout?

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Meatburner
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Iif there is a lot of condensation then you should be fine without adding water. The water cannot evaporate, it just condenses on the plastic and keeps the growing media moist. You can probably do a search here about starting seeds without lights. Several people are very successful growing in window seats. Just be patient and give the seeds time to germinate. The days given on seed package are just approximate often times. You'll be fine but do keep us posted.

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applestar
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The sun will help to provide warmth inside the cover, but good or bad depends on what kind of annual flowers. Some prefer cooler temps (50's-60's) to germinate in, others prefer warmth (70's-80's). How long to germinate depends on the plant. Under ideal conditions, some germinate in 1-2 days while others will still take weeks to germinate.

You should remove the cover completely at least once a day, but better if done twice a day to thoroughly inspect the conditions inside and to let in fresh air (say morning and evening). As long as there is condensation, there is no need to water.

If in direct sunlight, the tender seedlings can get cooked -- At first sign of sprouting, you need to at minimum provide ventilation by partially removing the cover -- lift up the edge with object, put the cover on skewed, use light weight food wrap draped rather than tight... And you need to provide good light. Don't you have a desk lamp or something and can you spring for a 6500K fluorescent tube or CFL bulb (100W equiv)?
Last edited by applestar on Thu Mar 21, 2013 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Cola82
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I found a CFL grow light that fit into the swing-arm lamp on my drafting table for under $10 at a gardening supply store, so I imagine you can find them cheaper elsewhere. As I ran out of space, I eventually broke down and got a two-tube hanging shoplight fixture for $30 (there was an $18 version, but my boyfriend just liked the other one better for... reasons, I guess). The tubes that go in it were only about $7 together.

That's still a lot when you're surviving on student loans, of course, and the bigger issue will always be space. When I was in school just a few years ago, I had a studio apartment but I wasn't allowed to hang anything from the ceiling. That said, the swing arm light is a great option if you're only growing a few plants. It's hard to spread that light evenly over an entire starter tray, however. I lined a cardboard box with aluminum foil to reflect all of the light back in (cutting open two sides and using tape to make hinges to make it easier to move things around and provide ventilation) but that still left whatever plants were on the margins reaching for the light.

This is the first year I've done any of this, however. I'm only offering my experience because I was where you are now not that long ago, but all that I grew in college was lucky bamboo. ;p

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emmdavies
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Thanks for the advice!
It was so strange, yesterday I checked on them and there was no signs of sprouting, tonight I walk by and I noticed some green underneath and suddenly there's so many tall sprouts!
I uncovered them and they look pretty healthy. I will probably try to do the fan-blowing technique to get them to get stronger once they start to look a little sturdier.

But now that I have some that have sprouted, what are some tips to keep them going? And how frequently should I water?

Thanks again! :o

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rainbowgardener
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Water when they need it :) It's very difficult to say how often that will be because it depends so much on your conditions, soil, light, plants, etc.

In peat, it will probably not be every day. I have mine in plastic pots watered (lightly!) from the bottom and I put a little water in most mornings, but still sometimes they haven't finished taking up yesterday's water so I don't give them any more.

Watering is the trickiest part for baby seedlings. They can't be allowed to get completely dry or they die, but they are very sensitive to over-watering. You are trying to keep them consistently just damp. If you press lightly on the soil and water oozes up, that is too wet. After awhile, you will get used to what your soil looks and feels like when it is starting to get dry.
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LindaD
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Great advice

Lots of great seed starting advice and suggestions...we all contribute a little so we all know a lot! Thanks to all. Personally I frequently drown my seedlings so I have begun to cut back and check them daily following the not too dry or two wet rule.

Remember the plastic holds in the humidity and can make things soggy if too watered or NOT ENOUGH CIRCULATION! In the past I have not allows for good circulation so dampening off happens and one day the seedlings look good the next day rotted off. It was suggested a fan blowing ait around the seedlings once they were big enough to uncover would help.

Also being "Thrifty" I wouldn't leave my grow lights on past 12 hours and several other gardeners suggested 16 was better. Certainly having good frequency bulbs is important as well. A local hydroponics store near my showed me the newest in bulbs but they do no fit the older style ends of grow light setups. They did suggest a broad spectrum whit light as well as a good grow light. Check at a store near you for their suggestions of what is available in your area.

Happy germinating :flower:
Linda happily gardening

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emmdavies
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I will look into getting some lights for them.

I have a problem, some that have sprouted are still strong but others have suddenly collapsed and shriveled.

Here's a photo
Image

What happened? Is there any hope? :shock:

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rainbowgardener
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Most likely damping off, a fungal condition that baby seedlings are very vulnerable to in conditions of high moisture and low air circulation. Did we say those peat pots don't work very well and hold too much moisture?

If it is, then unfortunately there is no hope for them. Damping off can be prevented, but not cured.

Type damping off in the Google custom (site) search box above to find out more.

But even before the damping off hit, they weren't doing real well - leggy from lack of light.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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emmdavies
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They didn't have lack of light, they had plenty of light. Which is what I think the problem was. They are sitting in a south facing window and I think they "dried out" even though I have been watering them just enough. I think this is what happened because one of the strongest and tallest sprouts started to look like the others and I moved it out of direct sunlight and into a part of the window where there was shade from the frame in the window, but it was still sunny. A few hours later I checked on it and it was standing tall and healthy again.

So I pulled the blinds down, cracked them a bit so there is still sunshine but not direct enough to "fry" them and I watered what needed to be watered.

I don't think there's hope for the ones that are all shriveled up, but we'll see what happens.

You live and you learn I guess! :roll:

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applestar
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The peat pot dehydrates and wicks the moisture right out of the seed starting mix, especially if the mix is also mostly peat.

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emmdavies
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I decided to give up on the peat pots and start over. :?

I don't know if they are the cause (probably) or what but all my sprouts shriveled up and died. :(

I'm starting over in recycled coffee cans and flower pots that I had lying around.

I'll post if I have any more issues!

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emmdavies
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Re: HELP! Seedling failure.

They are all sprouting and doing well in the new containers I sowed them in! I think it really was the peat containers that was killing them.
Now I have them in some small pots and recycled coffee containers as well as one recycled clementine box.

:D

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applestar
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Re: HELP! Seedling failure.

:clap: Yay! Good luck! :-()
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