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SPierce
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How leggy is too leggy?

I'm at a really strange point where I'm actually wondering this quite a lot:

I've got some winter crops (brussels sprouts, lettuce, onion, etc) that i've started, but they're sprouting like crazy- and growing crazier! One night their short, I leave for work, and 9 hours later when I come home, they've grown so much and so tall, and I'm getting confused as to whether they're still okay, or if I should start again?

so, on that note, how do you all tell/what do you look for in seedlings? How do you know when to toss them and start over again, is there anything you can do to help, like burying them up to the leaves so the stem in question grows roots?

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rainbowgardener
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A picture or two would help if you want suggestions about whether they might be too far gone or not.

Some things like tomatoes especially, benefit from being buried deeper. This does not work for leafy things like the lettuce. The onions and brussels sprouts could probably be buried a little bit deeper, but not a whole lot. They don't root from the stems like tomatoes do.

You need to figure out what the problem is. Are these under lights? How much, how close, etc? Generally growing too tall too fast is from not enough light. But if you are adding a lot of fertilizer that could make it worse. Young seedlings really don't need any fertilizer until they are better established.
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[img]https://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj565/ericmgilson/2012-02-23_23-19-34_453.jpg[/img]
Broccoli
[img]https://i1268.photobucket.com/albums/jj565/ericmgilson/2012-02-23_23-19-17_120.jpg[/img]
lettuce

I have some onions also but there laying down did they grow to fast? There bunching onions.
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rainbowgardener
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These are a bit leggy, not so severely that I would think about getting rid of them. I think part of that is the soil level is low, so the seeds when they germinated were down in a little well, shaded by the cups. It helps to fill the cups so that the plants sit up out of them. They may do better now that they are above the level of the cups. Give them as much light as you can and no fertilizer and see if they stocky up a bit.

I think often if seedlings are lying flat on the soil, that is damping off. Its a fungal condition that seedlings are very vulnerable to in conditions of high humidity and low air circulation.

This thread:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=222417#222417

has some pictures of what damped off seedlings look like. The stems get spindly and may have a brownish nipped in area at the bottom, just above ground level. If it is the damping off, once they are lying flat, they are probably goners, nothing you can do about it except pitch them and start over.

However, if it is only the onions, and they are really leggy (tall and spindly) and they are more like leaned over than strictly flat on the soil, that could just be the legginess. Baby onion seedlings are so thin to start with, if they are leggy they might just not support themselves very well. They don't really have stems like tomatoes do.

If these are under lights you want the lights only a couple inches above the plants and on for 16 hrs a day.
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SPierce
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I think my biggest issue is a low soil level; last year i filled the pots to the top - this year i left about an inch between the soil level and the top of the pots. Whoops. (can't take any photos at the moment, will try this weekend). My Squashes are doing well, it's just everything else I'm a bit worried about. I suppose I should simply start over, i just feel guilty! I do also have them in potting soil.

They are in a window instead of in a light, as i didn't want to stuff them in the basement (cold temps) and choose to keep them in my room instead

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For future ref. it's considered better to fill to the top with soil. In fact fill loosely to the top, use knuckles (or a second cup) to push down the soil (usually soil level goes down to only 1/2 full) then fill some more. The reason for this is that loose soil simply settles down, leaves too much air space which can kill or slow down fine root hairs, and once settled, the container rims block air movement. In a drier environment, this may be OK but in a more humid environment the pooled air inside the cup can promote damping off.

Then, there is the shadow effect rainbow mentioned, as well as illusion that the lights are "right over the cups" when in fact they are some distance from the soil level. I like to move the seed trays to just under the lights as soon as the little loops of seed sprouts start to emerge feom the soil and feel a sense of satisfaction when they stand up SHORT. :D

:idea: In many cases, you can top off the soil to just below the cotyledons. With lettuce and cole crops, its essential because once the true leaves grow, the seedlings will fall over. Tomatoes will grow additional roots from buried stems. But only if the hypocotyl stem isn't too weak and can withstand the pressure from adding the soil. try adding to one side first to support the seedling, then to the other.
Last edited by applestar on Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SPierce
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applestar wrote:For future ref. it's considered better to fill to the top with soil. In fact fill loosely to the top, use knuckles (or a second cup) to push down the soil (usually soil level goes down to only 1/2 full) then fill some more. The reason for this is that loose soil simply settles down, leaves too much air space which can kill or slow down fine root hairs, and once settled, the container rims block air movement. In a drier environment, this may be OK but in a more humid environment the pooled air inside the cup can promote damping off.

Then, there is the shadow effect rainbow mentioned, as well as illusion that the lights are "right over the cups" when in fact they are some distance from the soil level. I like to move the seed trays to just under the lights as soon as the little loops of seed sprouts start to emerge feom the soil and feel a sense of satisfaction when they stand up SHORT. :D
Thank you! Yeah, i think i've been in denial that that's what I did. Only question is, what should I do from here? As said, i'd feel terribly guilty for just throwing all these seedlings away (only the lettuces, onions, radishes and my flower seeds are really bad). any other uses for them?

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Oops, read what I added above. Also, lettuce, onions, and radish seedlings could be eaten like sprouts -- just pinch off their roots.... I do that with the culls when I thin seedlings. :wink:

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SPierce
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applestar wrote:Oops, read what I added above. Also, lettuce, onions, and radish seedlings could be eaten like sprouts -- just pinch off their roots.... I do that with the culls when I thin seedlings. :wink:
Ohhh really? Well, i guess it's worth a try!

Also, i suppose it won't hurt to add some soil, and see. I unfortunately did it with all my containers- this is what i get for filling them in the dark and getting over enthusiastic!

I think i just need to suck it up, let these go, and start over again. Kicking myself for not paying attention!

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Wait radishes? Radishes should be direct sowed in deeper container or ground where they are to grow.

Lettuce, onion, radish will be fine in the cold basement. I would move them to the cold environment as soon as they sprout. Sprouting might take as mush as two weeks in the cold so I would germinate them in regular room temperature (no heat mat) which should only take 3-5 days, but they'll be fine as seedlings.

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applestar wrote:Wait radishes? Radishes should be direct sowed in deeper container or ground where they are to grow.

Lettuce, onion, radish will be fine in the cold basement. I would move them to the cold environment as soon as they sprout. Sprouting might take as mush as two weeks in the cold so I would germinate them in regular room temperature (no heat mat) which should only take 3-5 days, but they'll be fine as seedlings.
Ohhh, well, okay :D I guess I'm just paranoid, as the basement is normally only 5 degrees above outside temp. There's also little to no light, which makes me :(

OKay, sorry for the crappy photos, but at least this way people can use what mine look like for reference, and not make the same mistake I did! :D

Other good news is, that, well, it's snowing. and we're due for snow all day- so I started a bit early, anyhow. Overly excited.

Edit: and oh goodness, I look so evil in some of the photos! I'm not a vampire; really!

[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo125.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo126.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo127.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo128.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo129.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo130.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo131.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c25/Liskarialeman/Photo132.jpg[/img]
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Lol when you think you know what your doing (BAM). So pack your soil to almost top cup level. I thought you want fluffy soil. So the extra leggy stems can be buried? Just making sure before I fix 50 plants.
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GardenGnome wrote: So the extra leggy stems can be buried? Just making sure before I fix 50 plants.
Depends on stems of what. From above:

"Some things like tomatoes especially, benefit from being buried deeper. This does not work for leafy things like the lettuce. The onions and brussels sprouts could probably be buried a little bit deeper, but not a whole lot. They don't root from the stems like tomatoes do. "
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After looking everything over carefully this morning, there are a few smaller sprouts in there that may possibly be okay. I bought a bunch of smaller pots today for planting, along with some (non fertilized) top soil, so i'll be doing a bit of transplanting this weekend to save the ones that I still can! It'll probably stress them out a lot to be moved, but for their health it's the best I suppose :D I'll try to be as gentle as possible. The others that are too long, I'm going to have to take as lessons learned and a loss.

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what if I hardened off my plants and put them in full sun with that stop it?
I have some cold frames (sliding glass door on a wood box) or a green house but the panels are shaded yellow from age.
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I'd suggest if you cannot afford crop failure, keep the leggy ones, study how they do and start another planting...What do you have to lose? throwing 'em doesn't do much good.
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treehopper wrote:I'd suggest if you cannot afford crop failure, keep the leggy ones, study how they do and start another planting...What do you have to lose? throwing 'em doesn't do much good.
Not sure about GardenGnome, but this is actually what I'm going to be doing; i bought a lot of extra pots today to move the non-leggy seedlings over this weekend, and am going to see how they manage/if i can get some food, or flowers, from them :)

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This is for fun not for the market. I think ill pick threw the really bad ones and pull them for room.
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Top soil alone will be too heavy for container growing. It should be mixed with something like 2 part top soil to 1 part shredded coir (I usually mix some compost... Maybe 1/2 part~1 part) and 1 part sharp sand or maybe perlite.

Some people mix 1/2 soil with 1/2 perlite. Some people go completely soilless and mix 1/2 coir to 1/2 perlite for starting seeds. I prefer sand.

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applestar wrote:Top soil alone will be too heavy for container growing. It should be mixed with something like 2 part top soil to 1 part shredded coir (I usually mix some compost... Maybe 1/2 part~1 part) and 1 part sharp sand or maybe perlite.

Some people mix 1/2 soil with 1/2 perlite. Some people go completely soilless and mix 1/2 coir to 1/2 perlite for starting seeds. I prefer sand.
Ah! I didn't realize this. Should I just spread it out across my garden, then? I have some of the original Osmocote potting soil I bought, so I suppose I should use that instead.

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After the links I found here I think my basil and last dry at lettuce all died from damping off. Is there a way to fix nice it's started?
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As far as I know, damping off can only be prevented not cured.
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I went back and looked at RG pic of his set up. I redid my lights and filled in some soil.
Pull any plants that look bad. And I'm going to go buy one more light today. To cover my last row of plants. The room that the lights are in is warmer then my house. I'm hoping it will make the plants grow better. I got my stuff under control and and learned most of the stuff I needed for now.

Once you harden your plants if you had a bad storm for a week or so and had to keep your plants inside would you have to harden them again. Or is once all you need?
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If RG is me, rainbowgardener, I'm not a him :)

If you harden your plants and then bring them back in for significant amounts of time (a week would count), then you need to do at least a bit of hardening to put them back out.

Depending on how much time they had been out vs back in, how well the weather cooperates, etc, the second time hardening might not have to be quite as gentle, but don't just plop them back out in to full sun.
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Well, i just moved a few of my shorter plants over from the bigger pots, to the littlier ones (might be a bad idea!) that are fuller. I guess i'll find out whether or not they manage to survive the repotting or not- but at least I'm less worried about them ;D

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and, for all those that probably knew the answer already, I need the pots for other starts, so all the leggy plants just went and was (gently) tossed into my in-ground garden; hopefully when the snow melts and it rains or something, everything will just go right back into the ground so I don't feel guilty for throwing them out!

On the other hand, i've saved as many as I can- and i finally have some sweet banana pepper plants that are starting to come through the soil! woo hoo! So I can only look forward to the future, not back to my mistakes I suppose ;D

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That's how we all started out. :wink:

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applestar wrote:That's how we all started out. :wink:
I know, but i still feel guilty for tossing them! Alas, though, lesson learned. I don't know how I didn't make that mistake last year!

As for comparisions.. the shorter plants are, by far, doing better than the leggy ones in terms of true leaf development, so it was time to let them go. I also hate, with a passion, the type of soil i choose this year to start my plants in. I'll be switching back to my Farfard potting soil as soon as it comes in to the stores! Bleh- this new stuff dries out so quickly and gets really crumbly. Do. Not. Like!

on that note, though, the seedlings I have going right now (lettuce, my squashes yes i started too early, peppers, brussels sprouts, and peppers) are doing really well so far, so I have a feeling it's going to be a good year!

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[img]https://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/p597/Bumpty89/P1030270.jpg[/img]

These are Parsley. Too leggy?

Also, the windowsill the seedlings are in only gets indirect light. Should I get a grow light to prevent leggy-ness for other seedlings?

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can you just put them outside, it looks sunny out that window.\

bring them in at night of course.
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they do look a bit leggy, i would also try to get them them in a sunnier spot if you can, it'd definitely help i think

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