The Q&A Archives: Poor Seedling Start

Question: hi ya !! I am working in a small green house my husband made. I heve been keeping the temp. around 80 daytime and 70 nightime. but my seeds are not popping up as well as when i started them in the house.... do i not need to cover the flats with film out side the plastic is always fogging up? that is all I see different. I am working with new flats and fresh seed. help!!! is it to late for me to start another round ?

Answer: You can certainly try again. I suspect that your seeds are being kept too warm and it is inhibiting germination or possibly even "cooking" them to death. Most seeds germinate at a soil temperature of around 65 to 75 degrees. The soil is usually about five degrees cooler than the surrounding air, so a normal household temperature is usually about right. When you cover the seeds with plastic you trap moisture to maintain humidity, but if the pan is also placed in direct sunlight this will cause the interior to heat up just like a closed car heats up when parked in the sun. You might try germinating the seed under the benches in the shade or in the house and then moving the seedlings to the greenhouse. You might also want to cool it down a bit more to say 65 or 70 in the daytime and 55 or even less at night. The reason for this is that excessive temperatures can contribute to overly lush and succulent growth which in turn is less adapted to outside weather conditions and is also more susceptible to insects and disease. Any greenhouse will have its own quirks, cool spots and hot spots and takes some getting used to -- enjoy yours, take notes and have fun!

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