princecaspn
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Advice for first time pepper grower

So this is the first year that I am starting my sweet and hot peppers from seeds. I have a Jiffy brand plastic tray with cover and my seeds were germinating within a week which was great. Here's my concern...

I noted that some of the sprouts were getting quite long and bending toward the light ( up until this point I had been sunning them in a southern facing window ) so I decided I would remove the plastic cover and place them instead under a desk lamp with a household CFL bulb which I thought I read were capable of sunning seedlings. This was yesterday, and after leaving them in the sunny window again today, quite a few of them have pretty much drooped over and are laying across other tray compartments.

[img]https://i1157.photobucket.com/albums/p588/RBecker2/photo.jpg[/img]

Is this a light issue? I was also spraying them with water throughout the day, could I have over watered them? Also, are those leaves that are visible considered the true leaves? If so does that mean i should be moving the little guys into bigger pots soon? Thanks for the advice!

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rainbowgardener
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The leaves that are visible are seed leaves. They don't have true leaves yet.

The ones lying flat are almost certainly a victim of damping off. It is a fungal condition that little seedlings are very vulnerable to, that has to do with too much moisture and not enough air circulation. Yes you very likely over watered them. I never mist seedlings at all, just water from the bottom.

Once the seedlings are lying flat like that, if they are damped off, they are goners, no way to resuscitate them, sorry. Look very closely at the base of the stems. If it is damping off, they will be pinched in at the base, just above the soil line, maybe with a dark line there. In severe cases, the top is about completely disconnected from the roots.

This thread had a couple pictures of what damped off seedlings look like:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=222417#222417

Peppers are very slow growing. I start mine at the end of January to be planted out in mid to late April. At this point in the season, I suggest you just buy some started plants at a local nursery. Next year you can try again starting from seeds having read and learned a little more about how to do it in the meantime.
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Ozark Lady
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You got peppers to germinate in one week? How did you do it?
I start early with seeds and expect to wait up to a month to see seedlings, still nothing showing in mine.
I have plenty of growing season, no worries as of yet.
I have even direct sown the seeds and got a harvest, but not as much as I do when I start them inside.
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rainbowgardener
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Mine germinate in a week, but they are on heat mats. I think soil warmth is the main factor and you may not have your soil warm enough, Ozark. They want soil temps like 75 degrees.
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rainbowgardener
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Here's another picture of what it looks like, showing the constriction and darkened area at the soil line.


[img]https://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/pp728/Pythium_irregulare/1436159_stem_rot_at_soil_line_1.jpg[/img]

I looked again at your picture at the biggest zoom in it would go and it looks like on some of them you can see a bit of the pinch in at the bottom.

PS those peat pots are seedling killers-- hold too much moisture in. They do much better in plastic, even plastic drink cups etc (as long as you put drainage holes in).
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princecaspn
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I definitely see that at least one of my guys has 'damped' off, looks just like the picture you linked to.

It seems I have quite a few seedlings still viable, I have been saving vitamin water bottles and cutting them in half to transplant to, should I start transplanting the healthy looking ones now? Can I use the same 'seed starting' soil I originally planted them with in these plastic containers?

Also, you said you water from the bottom rather than mist, what do you mean by this? And how often should they be watered?

I'm looking to pot 10-12 viable plants outdoors by the end of May (I live in Western New York) so buying some small plants at some later point is an option (that's what I did last year) but I can't believe that these are all goners at this point, I'd like to save as many as I can.

I'm sorry for all the questions, I did quite a bit of reading up on this before I started but having an outlet to ask questions is sooooo helpful. Thanks!
Last edited by princecaspn on Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

princecaspn
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Ozark Lady wrote:You got peppers to germinate in one week? How did you do it?
I just planted them in the container I have pictured and left the plastic cover on all the time except to spray soil with mister once a day. I actually had some of the serrano sprouts coming up after 5 days.

ruggr10
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One week germination? How about 24 hours?
Pepper seeds in paper towels in baggies on the furnace worked for me. In 48 hours one had leaves while still in the baggie! Crazy!!!

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Ozark Lady
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Aren't tomatoes just as fussy? They are always planted a week later, and are up first. I do have tomatoes up.

I have seen seedlings do that pinched in thing. I thought I had just neglected them, or forgot to feed them or something.
I overplant to make up for the ones that do that, as there never seemed to be a pattern. Side by side seedlings and some do that and some don't.
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rainbowgardener
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Misting under a humidity dome is a perfect recipe for damping off. The humidity dome is just for sprouting the seeds (I don't use them at all). After they sprout, the dome should come off.

Bottom watering is to put your pots in a tray. Pour a little water in the tray, just enough so it touches the bottom of the pot. Let the soil wick up the water it needs.

If there are some that seem healthy, you can certainly try potting them up and see how it goes. Use some kind of plastic container with drain holes. If you use the seed starting mix, then you will need to start fertilizing, since it has no nutrients in it. Otherwise you can use potting soil with Miracle Gro.
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princecaspn
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rainbowgardener wrote:Misting under a humidity dome is a perfect recipe for damping off. The humidity dome is just for sprouting the seeds (I don't use them at all). After they sprout, the dome should come off.

Bottom watering is to put your pots in a tray. Pour a little water in the tray, just enough so it touches the bottom of the pot. Let the soil wick up the water it needs.

If there are some that seem healthy, you can certainly try potting them up and see how it goes. Use some kind of plastic container with drain holes. If you use the seed starting mix, then you will need to start fertilizing, since it has no nutrients in it. Otherwise you can use potting soil with Miracle Gro.
OK, it looks like tonight I should try transplanting the ones I think I can save. Sprouts that yesterday and flat leaves now have leaves that are curling up, what does this mean?


Can I put the plastic containers (with holes in the bottom) back into this seed starting tray and use that for bottom watering? I do have vegetable fertilizer that I used last season, so I assume I could mix some of that up and water the tray with it?

princecaspn
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OK, so I'm pretty much restarting from scratch, had to toss all my toasted little seedlings....

Have about 10 seeds in seed starter mix and in those cardboard type jiffy pots, as well as another 6 seeds in plastic containers. They are currently under a plastic lid and I am spraying them to get them to germinate. My question is, what do I do with them once they sprout so that I don't kill them again?

Northernfox
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I failed last year. I was not sure why but I started them out under my grow light and they seem to be doing better. I also switched from the pots to the pods. Mine seem to be doing much better than last year.

I do have a question though. Can I grow them to production over the cold Canadian winter under a grow light?

Thanks
Stephen

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rainbowgardener
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@prince - I really would not spray with a dome. One or the other. If you are going to water by misting, don't use the dome. If you use the dome, water from the bottom (put a little bit of water in the bottom of the tray and let the soil wick it up) and then still remove the dome as soon as the seeds sprout. I think misting is a difficult way to water, hard to know if you are getting the soil mix damp all the way to the bottom without getting it too wet on top. Also are you doing anything to warm the soil? Peppers sprout better in warmer soil and you have less chance of damping off. I have heat mats for germinating seeds.

But you didn't say where you are located. Unless you are very far in the frozen north (and possibly even then), you might be better off to just buy started plants this year. Peppers are slow growers. I plant my pepper seeds no later than first of February, often a little sooner, to have decent sized little plants to put in the garden sometime after mid-April.

Having had this learning experience, you can be better prepared next year to do the seed starting, but I think it is very late now to try to grow peppers from seed.
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rainbowgardener
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Northernfox wrote:I failed last year. I was not sure why but I started them out under my grow light and they seem to be doing better. I also switched from the pots to the pods. Mine seem to be doing much better than last year.

I do have a question though. Can I grow them to production over the cold Canadian winter under a grow light?

Thanks
@fox - you really would have been better off to start your own thread than hijack someone else's. The question about growing to maturity and fruiting really isn't about seed starting any more anyway. I don't really know the answer, but it would depend on the light. The basic fluorescent tubes most of us use for seed starting will not be sufficient to get it to fruit. I have one pepper plant that I started from seed last year, grew outdoors all season and then brought in to overwinter. It is in a corner with windows on two sides AND I put a lamp on it (regular fluorescent). That was enough to limp it through the winter barely alive, but not enough for it to flower or fruit. You would need hps or mh lighting, which are very expensive to run.
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Ruffsta
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you should really get a heat mat... and a thermostat to go with it.

i have 2 trays, but only use 1 but i use both covers... when the first cover gets water i switch to the dry cover leaving the wet cover dry.. i keep that process going.

i only water once and that's the initial watering after planting the seeds. i set my thermostat to 83..

once they sprout, i transfer them to "tumblers" - (which are basically 22oz plastic cups that i drill 3 holes in the bottom. at this point the second initial watering i use "recipe for success kit" - which i use a mix of boost, grow and sugar daddy. i then place them under a 4 foot shop light that has 2 sunshine bulbs and run the lights for 12 hrs then off for 12hrs.

i never had an issue doing it this way. you can also use compost tea instead of the mix i use. i don't use miracle grow because it's very acidic for any kind of soil - therefore it is just a waste of time to use. when i used to use miracle grow bottle connected to the hose it was once a month and my plants grew very heavily.. but this year i will be strictly using compost tea rather than miracle grow.

but that's just how i do it and they grow great!
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