Vegetables and Fruit forum: Seedling Help-Peppers and Tomatoes

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Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 28, 2014 4:35 AM CST
I planted my pepper seeds about 4 weeks ago and my tomato seeds 2 weeks ago. The seeds germinated quickly, they look healthy. I have them under fluorescent lights (warm/cool combo) about 16 hours/day. They are still on their heat mat in a covered indoor greenhouse thing in my basement. The seedlings look great, but they have not developed a set of true leaves yet and I think that they should have by now. Suggestions? I was waiting until they developed their first set of leaves before I turned off the heat mat-maybe too warm? Too much light? I need advice-I don't remember having this happen before:(
Thanks!
Deb
Name: Franklin Troiso
Rutland, MA (Zone 5b)
Life is to short to eat rice cakes
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herbie43
Mar 28, 2014 6:13 AM CST
Maybe you should remove the covering from the greenhouse. could be too much heat.

I planted my tomato seeds 10 days ago and they have their first set of leaves already and look good. I have them under the heat mat and grow lights. The lights stay on 14 hour a day and the heat mat 24 hours a day. My soil was drying out vey quickly and I had to water very often and then someone suggested that I raise the plant holder off the mat and that seemed to work.

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frank
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 28, 2014 8:23 AM CST
Yes, remove the covering. That may help.

I am glad my suggestion helped your dry-soil problem, Franklin.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Franklin Troiso
Rutland, MA (Zone 5b)
Life is to short to eat rice cakes
Charter ATP Member
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herbie43
Mar 28, 2014 9:24 AM CST
Kren - I was pretty sure it was you who advised me to that that but I was to lazy to go looking for it. Hilarious!

Maybe you can give me your advise on this. In my planters that I bought from sams club I ca nbuy manure compost for 22 dollars a yard. do you think I can plant my veggies in pure compost of do I need to say make I ta 50/50 mix with compost and MG potting soil for containers or maybe you have another idea. Can I also add wood mulch to the mix?/

Thanks

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frank
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 28, 2014 10:16 AM CST
Keep in mind I am no expert here (being a Master Gardener does not mean "Expert Gardener" LOL) so what I do is simply sort of trial and error, developed over several decades of home gardening.

I grow mostly tropical plants (orchids are my passion) but I also have a sizeable raised garden for vegetable crops. Since I am in the habit of customizing all my tropical plant mixes, I also customize my vegetable soil mixture. My formulae that I used for my raised garden was 1/2 top soil and 1/2 "Planter's Mix". I purchase planter's mix from our local Co-Op by the square yard and it is light and very organic. I wanted my raised garden to have good drainage. In the fall I throw out about a handful of Osmocote per 10 sq. ft. of garden. This is the standard 19-6-12, six-month formulae. I also have grow-bags and huge pots that I plant in. That mix is 1/3 milled sphagnum moss, 1/3 Black Kow, and the other 1/3 is half coarse perlite and half medium Douglas fir bark. I add a handful of Osmocote for (approximately) each 4 gal. of soil mix. I use the fir bark simply because I buy so much of it for my orchids, I have plenty for my potted plants as well. I would imagine you could use hardwood mulch instead of the Douglas fir bark, since the mulch is readily available from big-box stores. Try to find heat-treated mulch though, since that kills pathogens, seeds, and spores that might well be in the mulch.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Mar 28, 2014 1:47 PM CST
What nutrients are in the growing medium for the peppers and tomatoes?
Some of the seed starter mixes have almost no nutrients.
Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
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Joannabanana
Mar 28, 2014 6:08 PM CST
Remove the heat mat and dome. Run a fan. I usually feed seedlings with a diluted fish emulsion fertilizer once a week. It stinks BTW. Last year I used a organic liquid fertilizer, Daniel's. I much prefer the non-stinky ferts in the house
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 28, 2014 6:40 PM CST
OK, I just checked my seed starting "soil". It's Burpee Organic Seed Starting Mix. It has coir instead of peat. I've never used anything with coir before so I hope that's not part of my problem. The package says to fertilize after 4 weeks, so I'm thinking that I will go ahead and add some fertilizer tomorrow How should I mix the fish emulsion if I go thaat way? I'm also changing out my grow lights-I think that they are at least 4 years old. Spring is the only time I use them so I kind of lose track I think I need to put the date on them:). I got some new cool and warm white bulbs today so that should help. The seedlings look a little leggy even though they are really close to the lights. I'll turn off the heat mat and keep the greenhouse cover open, as well as add a fan. Thanks for the suggestions. I'm adding a few photos. The one of the seedlings is pretty bad, but you get the idea.

Thumb of 2014-03-29/dmurray407/f31e7b


Thumb of 2014-03-29/dmurray407/82b49b

Here are some photos of my set up in my basement:
Thumb of 2014-03-29/dmurray407/578500
Thumb of 2014-03-29/dmurray407/fde238

Thanks again!

Deb
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 28, 2014 8:47 PM CST
Makes no difference - coconut or peat. Peat is more acidic but both are pretty much sterile of nutrients. Fertilize with standard fertilizer, even the dreaded Miracle Gro, but dilute it by four, 1/4 tsp./gal. of water. Heat mat makes no difference but the dome does. The plants need air movement.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 29, 2014 7:29 AM CST
Thanks, Ken!
Deb
Name: Franklin Troiso
Rutland, MA (Zone 5b)
Life is to short to eat rice cakes
Charter ATP Member
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herbie43
Mar 29, 2014 8:21 AM CST
Deb - I've grown seeds in coir before with no problem and my grow lights must be 5 years old now and they don't pose any kind of problem for my plants. That's a nice set up you have.

Ken - thanks for your advice. It looks a bit to complicated for me. LOL

I'm pleasantly surprised that all the old seeds I still had have germinated. Some were from 2006



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frank
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2014 8:33 AM CST
Franklin, what I do is not complicated, it just appears so because I use so many things that most people don't have lying around. Since I mainly grow tropical plants and keep all the media components necessary to grow them, I just use what I have. I am a big believer in milled sphagnum moss and Black Kow as the backbone of my potting mixes and then anything added to open it up, making it well-draining, will produce good results.

Deb, I just noticed that the Burpee Seed Starting mix has some sort of fertilizer in it. Tell me what that fertilizer is before you start adding additional fertilizer to your seedlings.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 29, 2014 11:34 AM CST
Ken, I appreciate your help! The Burpee bag says to start fertilizing after 4 weeks, it's been about 4 weeks for the peppers and 2 for the tomatoes. This is the fertilizer in the mix:
0.06%N
0.03%P
0.03%K
It says the nutrients are derived from turkey litter and hydrolyzed feather meal (yum!).

I bought some Shultz starter Plus today (I will wait to hear from you to apply any). It's a liquid fertilizer that says to add 3 oz per gallon H2O.It's 5-10-5 with 0.10% chelated iron and some vitamin B1 added. Smells like old fashioned Superthrive:) I have some of htat somewhere, too. Maybe I should use that instead......
Anyway, thanks again:)
Deb
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2014 12:26 PM CST
OK, Deb, the "fertilizer" in the Burpee mix is virtually non-existent. So you won't have any problems fertilizing now. Shultz is a good fertilizer in my opinion, so use that. I don't think Superthrive is a fertilizer, so your Shultz is not the same. I would reduce your rate of fertilizer/water though. When I am first fertilizing my seedlings, I cut the rate by 1/2 or even 1/3. So mix 1 - 1 1/2 oz. per gal. Fertilize with this diluted solution every time you need to water. If you are growing on a heating pad, my might have to fertilize/water every 2-4 days and if not using the pad, perhaps weekly. As in orchid growing, I like to say fertilize weakly, weekly. Thumbs up

When you put your seedlings out in the garden/pots, you can use the Shultz full strength. I will then alternate my watering and fertilizing on a schedule of watering twice (again, perhaps every week) and then fertilizing. Since I work Osmocote time-release fertilizer into the soil just before I put my seedlings out, that will reduce my additional fertilizing (Schultz or something similar). I then would water 3-4 times for every application of the liquid fertilizer. You are basically then only using the water-soluble fertilizer to "super-charge" the slow-release Osmocote.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 29, 2014 1:33 PM CST
Thanks Ken!!!!
Deb
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 29, 2014 2:15 PM CST
I tip my hat to you.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Mar 29, 2014 3:21 PM CST
Okay, good advice given here but I'll add my 2ยข worth...

Deb/dmurray, your plants have been too far from your lights from Day One. The tall dome on your mini-ghouse caused the plants to be way lower than they should be. The dome is also a bit yellowed w/age, also reducing the light strength (or so it appears on my monitor.) Your seedlings need to be within inches of the light as soon as they declare (appear above soil.)

Your elongated/tall stems and lack of strong light have kept the plant from moving on to it's next growth stage - foliage growth.

By the way, you should move your plants where they are under the center of the light, the middle portion, not at one end or the other. The strongest light will be in the center of any fluorescent bulb with weaker light rays towards the ends. This is why it is good to move trays under lights back and forth so they each get some of the stronger light off and on (if you do more than one tray next time.)

I bet you may have some decent root growth, as long as the soil medium hasn't been too wet during this time. If your soil level is fairly shallow you'll see your roots have grown outwards, probably in abundance (unless, again, your soil is too wet.) If your soil level is deeper you'll see the roots have grown more downward but with a smaller amount of roots.

I'd do exactly as Ken suggested and do a VERY light liquid feeding, highly diluted, but I think I'd wait a couple days after you improve the lighting AND, as someone else mentioned, put a gentle fan on the plants for a short period of time. It is probably still too cold to set them out in direct sun in your area...I can only imagine it is cold as cubes in Minnesota. (Brrrrr....) Maybe you have a bright window you can move them to for a couple hours, keeping in mind to watch them so they don't get burnt from the abrupt light change.

Lastly, since they are peppers (and tomatoes) you'll see faster growth if you leave the heat mat turned on (but remove the dome.) Peppers really need the heat or they just slow down their growth rate tremendously. The last thing you want right now is cooler soil.

Sorry to be so long-winded. (I was giving Rick Corey competition~!) Rolling on the floor laughing

Shoe (rained in and computering for a while!~)


Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Canadian Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Roses
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Annuals Container Gardener Vegetable Grower Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters
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Joannabanana
Mar 29, 2014 6:52 PM CST
Lots of great tips! The lights are key and they do seem a bit far. You may want to consider a better bulb. I've picked up some "close-to" full spectrum bulb at Lowe's for about $6 per bulb. If you run an osculating fan, it will help strengthen the seedlings and create good air circulation.

If you hang a silver emergency blanket on wall behind the shelves, it will help reflect the light. The emergency blankets are very thin and sorta look light aluminum foil. Easy to tape on
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 29, 2014 7:07 PM CST
The seedlings have been about an inch away from the bulbs since they germinated. That's one reason that I thought that I should replace the bulbs. I have always used a combination of warm white/cool white bulbs with good success in the past. I was under the impresion that you only need to use the full spectrum guys for flowering plants-when you want them to set flower. I did move up to GroLux bulbs (2 in each fixture)-and I did move the flats more to the center of the shelf. I like the idea of the emergency blanket-thanks for the suggestion! I also have a fan in place now (not blowing directly on them, but pointed up) I left my heat mat on on the lower shelf, the soil temperature on the tomato shelf with the heat mat off has been about 65-70 degrees with the cover open. I think I will let the cover drape down over night because it can get a bit chilly down there:)
Thank you all!!!
Deb
Name: Linda
SE Houston, Tx. (Hobby) (Zone 9a)
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Gymgirl
Mar 31, 2014 1:40 PM CST
I've been using plain old T-12 fluorescent shop light bulbs in my seedling shelves, since I started growing in 2008, and all my seedlings have grown just fine.

I change the bulbs out every couple seasons or so.. They run from 6a-11p daily... I tip my hat to you.

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