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lukeout007
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Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

Can someone help me out with some advice? I started various seeds at the beginning of March (Zucchini, Jalapenos, Tomatoes, Dill, Watermelon, Lettuce, etc.)

I've had them all sitting in a window (and under a clear plastic dome in the beginning) the entire time. I don't have a better source of light. But now my plants are all skinny and spindly. They are about 2-3 inches tall and super thin. From reading it looks like this is caused by insufficient light (lesson learned for next year I guess).

My question is can these be salvaged? Even my lettuce doesn't look like lettuce...it looks tall and thin. As I said I don't have a better source of light but I do have an inexpensive plastic greenhouse that I bought last year that I can move them to if it will help. I could also move it to the sunniest spot on the patio this weekend if it will help.

Our last frost date here in western wa is april 30th. Temps right now during the day are generally in the 50's and at night probably more like in the 40's...though it still does frost once in awhile (but not often).

What can I do? Can these be salvaged or do I need to start all over? And if I do need to start all over should I do it by starting the seeds in the greenhouse rather than in my window?

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applestar
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

lukeout007 wrote:Can someone help me out with some advice? I started various seeds at the beginning of March (Zucchini, Jalapenos, Tomatoes, Dill, Watermelon, Lettuce, etc.)
Whether they can be salvaged depends on what they look like, so some photos would help.

BUT, for the most part, starting over is probably the better course of action.

Lettuce and dill can be sowed directly where they are to grow outside right now. Be sure to protect from rabbits, etc.

Zucchini and watermelon needs heat and sun. You could try re-starting these in the "little greenhouse" without worrying about overheating in the sun. You may want to try the jalapeños again, too. Make sure to use large containers (1pt to 1 qt) to start the zucchini and watermelon. They are known to be very fussy about having their roots disturbed. Planting directly in the ground is better but they need warm soil to germinate.

Tomato seedlings can be given some TLC like this :arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 15#p326115

But if they are very weak or starting over, it will depend on what variety they are, how long it takes them to mature, and whether you have the long growing season needed to grow them from seeds now.

With any of these except dill and lettuce, you just might be better off buying started plants at this point.
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lukeout007
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

Just realized I haven't taken any recent pictures...guess I need to do that. Thanks for the response. Unfortunately I spent a small fortune on seeds this year so I really don't want to buy starts at this point. If I just start over and re-plant the seeds I should still get some production out of them this year right? Even if its a bit later than normal? For instance with the Jalapenos do you think if I started them over again now I could get some peppers by August?

I didn't realize I could sow the lettuce and dill directly now. I'll just do that probably and scrap the lettuce starts. The dill I actually started later and it's not looking terrible so I might keep trying with that one too...

As far as the zucchini and watermelon...if I sowed them directly in say the middle of may once the ground has warmed up a bit do you think I'd get some production out of those still as well?

Thanks for the help...I know I'm asking a lot of questions. This is my second year gardening and my first really starting from seed so I still have a ton to learn.

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applestar
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

I honestly don't remember how long it takes jalapeños to mature. My jalapeños plants are 3 and 4 years old.
Check this out :arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 81&t=55256
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applestar
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

Zucchini and watermelon -- Look on the back of the seed packets -- they should indicate how long to mature/harvest. What variety are they?

If the typical summer temperature high's/low's in your area are not very high, it may take a little longer.
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lukeout007
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

applestar wrote:Zucchini and watermelon -- Look on the back of the seed packets -- they should indicate how long to mature/harvest. What variety are they?

If the typical summer temperature high's/low's in your area are not very high, it may take a little longer.
Watermelon is Black Tail Mountain I believe. They were seeds given to me last year by a gardener friend who collected seeds and shared them with me. I think that's what he said they were.

The zucchini is called black beauty.

I also started cabbage and have had the same results as the lettuce. But I think cabbage is pretty tolerant of cold temps right? So I should be able to direct sow now?

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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

Cabbage and lettuce are very tolerant of cold. You would have been better off to plant those seeds directly in the garden in March, instead of starting them inside. The question now is whether you have enough time before it gets to hot for them and they bolt. But if you have cool-ish damp summers, they will last longer.
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lukeout007
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

rainbowgardener wrote:Cabbage and lettuce are very tolerant of cold. You would have been better off to plant those seeds directly in the garden in March, instead of starting them inside. The question now is whether you have enough time before it gets to hot for them and they bolt. But if you have cool-ish damp summers, they will last longer.
My lettuce last year bolted...but it was a start I bought and it was late in the year. I'll try planting some directly in the ground tonight and hopefully I can get some out of it.

Even if it's super warm out I should still have a small harvest window before bolting right? I mean I can continue growing lettuce and cabbage throughout the summer as long as I monitor it carefully and harvest as soon as they are mature?

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applestar
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

Here's Territorial Seed company's listing for Black Tail Mountain. Looks like a good choice for you.
Blacktail Mountain Watermelon Organic
70-75 days. Developed in Northern Idaho where summer nights dip into the 40s, we can attest to how well Blacktail Mountain performs at our cool trial ground. A consistently high producer of 9 inch round, dark green fruit with candy-sweet, red flesh. Also performs well in hot climates, making this a wonderful taste of summer for any gardener.
https://www.territorialseed.com/product/ ... melon_seed
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

I agree most plants need to get off to a good start, it is hard to fix things once they go awry, especially with seedlings since it is a critical time for them.

Peppers are very slow from seed and take a couple of months to mature. They start off very slow and stay small at least the first month. They really pick up in the second month and start flowering about 70 days later. If it is cold, it takes even longer. I have peppers I started in November when it was still warm for me. Some of them started flowering in January, but most of them are starting to flower now. I transplanted them from 4 inch to 1 gallon pots when they were about 3-4 inches tall.

I have only planted test peppers. I haven't started the bulk of my pepper starts yet because the nights are still dipping into the mid sixties and some of my peppers will balk unless the temps are securely in the 70's and the days are in the 80's which is normal for here.

I don't usually need a heat mat, so I don't have one, I just need to wait for the right time.
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

As a suggestion, Lookout, you might want to add your hardiness zone to your location. I lived on Whidbey Island in the mid to late 90's and I probably had a different hardiness zone. It will help people giving you advice. Granted, not for this particular issue, but with others.
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lukeout007
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Re: Started too early AND got spindly seedlings - what to do

lexusnexus wrote:As a suggestion, Lookout, you might want to add your hardiness zone to your location. I lived on Whidbey Island in the mid to late 90's and I probably had a different hardiness zone. It will help people giving you advice. Granted, not for this particular issue, but with others.

Good advice. I'll do that now. Thanks!

Last night when I went home I moved some of the things that I thought could be salvaged into larger pots (tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon) in my greenhouse and then I planted Cabbage, Broccoli, and Lettuce directly in the garden and just gave up on the seedlings I had originally. Hopefully I can still have a good start to the season even if it is a few weeks behind.

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