seed starting soil

TJP8(5)May 17, 2014

All of my most recent attempt at ghost peppers have died. I went to get the soil that was recommended which was the orchid mix, but they only had the coarse kind. Any other suggestions? They had this

This post was edited by TJP8 on Wed, Jun 4, 14 at 16:57

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stoneys_fatali(9b Duarte,Ca.)

I use E.B. Stone seed starting soil and potting soil for all my plants.
Great products.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 5:53PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I seriously doubt that your problem is the soil you use. Care to describe how you proceeded and what happened? How big did your plants get?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 2:59PM
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The plants were just starting to get their first true set of leaves. Then the bottom of the stem turned a kind of transparent green and gave out and the plants fell over. Is this dampening off? I also used a tiny bit of fertilizer when the true leaves started if that helps. They were in like one of the he starting pellets and were damp most of the time. I had them in one of the urpee greenhouse things if that also helps. I was just asking about the soil because I think the previous one stayed too moist.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:11PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sounds exactly like damping off.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Yep. Damping off. Peat pellets are fine for sprouting, but after that, you need to get them in a more porous, draining mix. Also, same thing with the greenhouse -- once sprouted, immediately under lights no more than an inch from the top leaves. You can leave them in the pellets until they get a set of true leaves, then into a mix. But since you already have the mix now, just ditch the pellets. They cause more problems than their worth.

Also, when put under lights, run a small fan to keep the soil relatively dry.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:26PM
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And I fix that by letting the soil dry? Any suggestions for my second try? This is the last of my seeds. :(

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:27PM
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I agree with Josh and Kevin but have a question.

When you say they're in a Burpee greenhouse thing, I assume you're referring to the trays with the clear plastic dome, right?

If so, are you leaving the dome on after they sprout? If you do the medium will take a long time to dry and restrict air flow that Kevin mentioned... a perfect environment for damping off issues.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:46PM
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Yes that's what I did. Thats what I thought, but it seemed whenever I took it off another would die.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:05PM
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TJP8: Will that greenhouse thingy fit 9 oz solo cups underneath it? And are you using it with a heat mat? If so, I'll walk you through your next attempt and you should be good to go.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:34PM
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If I take the tray out it will fit the cups I think. Im using a heat mat from a hermit crab tank that gets only slightly hotter then room temperature. I started 9 seed sin a bag yesterday but none of them have germinated so I can move them. If you'd help me that would be awesome! Ive been trying to get these to grow for like three attempts now. I just love them too much because im so excited to have peppers that hot.

This post was edited by TJP8 on Sun, May 18, 14 at 19:07

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:06PM
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After checking the greenhouse is slightly too big, but I could trim the cups slightly if that will work.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:09PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The heat mat should be turned off after the seeds germinate.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:18PM
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Ok. So, you have some seeds in a paper towel/bag? Not too wet paper towel, just moist.

Put the sealed bag in the greenhouse with the lid and heat mat on. In 3-5 days, hold bag up to bright light and check to see if taproots are emerging.

Don't worry about trimming the cups for now. Just use a hot knife or soldering pencil and put some drain holes in the bottom of them for now.

I'll be here. Others will too. When the taproots are visible, let me know. And we'll go from there.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:29PM
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4 of the 9 have had their tap roots emerge today! Also should I make a new post for this?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:00PM
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Not necessary for another post.

Ok. So, moisten the potting mix. Fill solos about 3/4" from lip of cup with mix and tamp it firmly. Take a pencil and create a hole in the center for the tap to fit into.

Open baggy and gently unfold paper towel. If the paper tap seems like it's embedded, tear around the tap, leaving a bit of the paper towel attached Pick up seed by the head with tweezers and carefully insert tap into hole. Head should come about even with soil line. Nudge a bit of the soil around tap to fill any voids. Now cover with more mix about 3/8".

Take a watering can or that spray nozzle attached to most kitchen sinks and run the cups under it for just a few seconds. Dry off outside of cups and cover with plastic wrap. Now stick the cups back under dome and/or on heat mat and wait a few more days until you see the seeds emerging. Immediately take out of dome, remove plastic wrap, and place under fluorescents no more than an inch from the top leaves.

Set up a small fan to run 24 hours. Not necessarily directly on them but enough to circulate the air around them. Lights can be left on 24 hours for the 1st couple days. After that, switch to a 16 on/8 off cycle.

Don't be tempted to water them. The moisture in the mix should last quite a few days or even up to 2 weeks. You want the soil to get almost bone dry before watering. There's a wooden skewer test you can do -- Stick skew in soil, pull out -- if soil is attached to skewer, don't water. If no soil, water thoroughly. Until the plants are established and past the damping off threat stage, I bottom water by taking cups and placing in a plastic tub of water with about an inch of water for 10 minutes or so. After they get a couple sets of true leaves, I'll bottom water and then come right back and fertilize with an All-purpose fert or fish fert at 1/4 strength (top water). A couple more sets of leaves and it's pretty safe to top water all the time. The reason why I water before i fertilize is because you never want to fertilize on dry soil.

Keep your watering regimen like this -- almost bone dry, water thoroughly, almost bone dry, water thoroughly.

If you see any gnats flying around, sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top of the soil and/or water the plants with a mixture of 1 part 3% hydrogen peroxide to 4 parts water. But you really shouldn't see any gnats if you're watering properly.

The seeds in the towel that haven't popped tap roots yet --- stick the back in bag and wait longer, stick them in cups like the ones that did pop, or discard.

Keep us updated and pics always help.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:50PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

In the beginning of germinating season (back in Feb 2014) I bough a small bag of MG seed starter. But soon I learned to make my own. AVOIDING peat moss and vermiculite.
I screen some 5-1-1 pine bark (I started over 20 varieties of tomatoes, 15 varieties of pepper, and some other stuff with no major problem.
Never a damping off. My seedlings always would get thirsty (5 to 7 days) and show wilting.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:55PM
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Some of them came up but not all, do I still take the plastic wrap off? I don't have a light suitable for growing plants, but ill probably get one in the future. Is keeping them in a window ok or it's 82 outside should I put them outside during the day?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 3:55PM
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No plastic wrap on the ones that have emerged. Leave the rest doing their thing. If you can babysit them throughout the day, then get outside now in full sun. They'll dry out much quicker outside in the sun, so keep an eye on them and take note of how heavy they are right now with moisture in the soil. When they seem pretty light in weight, bottom water. If it gets much warmer or they seem to be struggling in 82F, or you can't babysit them, then the windowsill will have to do.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:19PM
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How are these looking? Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:06AM
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I don't have problems with damping off either (this year started around 2800 pepper, tomato, and tomatillo plants, next year it will be around 4000), I spray my seedlings every day with camomile tea.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:46AM
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The seedlings look fine, but why in the hell did you only fill up half way with soil?? So wrong on so many levels

How do you expect the top of the soil to dry out(preventing fungus gnats and damping off) with it sitting so far down in the cup?

How do you expect a fan or wind to strengthen the stalk?

How do you expect the seedlings to NOT get leggy sitting down in that dark hole?

How do you expect to get any root growth in such a shallow depth before getting rootbound or need repotting?

Please excuse the brutality in my questioning if your plan was to immediately get them out of there and plant them at proper depth. Next time, just fill the cups to a 1/2" from the top and you probably can go from sprout to transplant in one fell swoop. Plus, when you do get some lights, you'll want to place the plants almost touching the lights to prevent stretching.

Pam's advice is good. Damping off can be prevented by not overwatering and a fan. But watering every couple weeks with a very weak solution of chamomile tea(a twice brewed tea bag cup of tea added to a quart of water) or a 4:1 ratio of water to peroxide(3%). Sprinkling cinnamon around the seedlings will also deter fungus gnats.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 3:32PM
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I think the picture makes the cups look less full then they actually are. They are filled about 3/4 of the way. I now realize that you said 3/4 of an inch from the top not 3/4 full. My mistake sorry. Should I try putting more soil in so that some of the stem is covered and work my way up from there? Also, thanks for the dampening off advice!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:07PM
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No. Not at this point. Either carefully repot them or carefully cut away the top part of the cup and hope they get a few sets of true leaves before transplant.

You do realize that it's incredibly late to start peppers from seed in your zone, especially superhots?? Don't plan on getting anything off them this season unless there's some way to grow them indoors in the fall and maybe overwinter them for next year.

If you're intent on getting some peppers THIS year, you may want to check with a local nursery for some starts or order some from Cross Country Nurseries. Your plants are a good 2-3 months away from being ready to plant out.

But, by all means, let's continue growing THESE. It will make for good practice for next year. Most folks in your zone that want to grow superhots will start them in January under lights. It's really the only way to do it for people with shorter growing seasons.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:25PM
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My intention was to attempt to overwinter these and just get peppers next summer. That's still possible right?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Totally. However, I don't overwinter. So, when the frost starts hitting your area in the fall, you'll want to have already done your research on HOW to overwinter and WHAT you'll need for success.

Start another thread for that. There's many folks here who have done it with great success.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Kevin, I swear you werel talking to me, My first year using seed to grow Peppers. Over the years just planted what peppers plants that were available. Discovered Eric free seed give away here on this forum. My first attempt ended with alot of damping off problems and issues. Did not use all the seeds, so my second attempt was much better. Plants are well on there way using above ground, and containers, also trying using the rain gutter method (plants going nutz O, lol. I so enjoyed learning and following your posts and advice. Will so be ready for 2015 growing with seeds. Cheers


    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Thought I'd check back in since the peppers are now a month and six days old. I've fertilized them twice so far with a pretty weak mix. How are these looking? Any recommendations? The largest ones fourth set of true leaves have emerged.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 12:34PM
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I'm afraid to say that those plants need to be separated. Soon the competition will start and will start killing each other off to survive.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Also can I keep these outside permanently now? We've been getting some heavy rain here in Chicago so I'm worried about that. Are these past the dampening of stage?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 12:49PM
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They're past damping off. And yes, outside is fine now. But, you need to harden off -- gradually introducing them to the outside world. Partial shade 1st day for an hour or so, a little more the next, an hour of direct sun and partial the rest of the day the next day, and so on. Over a 10-14 day period until they are in direct sun and wind after 2 weeks. If winds are strong, protect them a bit.

Try not to let them get too much rain though.

As Morugaman stated, they need separating or you need to clip down to just one plant per pot. If separating, leave them inside for a couple more days before hardening.



    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Will they need to be replanted soon anyways?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 5:22PM
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You could probably do the separating/clipping when transplanting. So, sure. Harden them off, separate/clip, and then transplant. If separating, give them a couple days in partial shade again after transplant since separating delivers quite a shock to the roots..


    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 5:57PM
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I was at another site & found this product that guarantee's no damping off.> NoDampOff⢠Organic Seed Starting Medium

This is not an endorsement as I've never used it.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2014 at 1:39PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I make my own. Here is how I make it: 4-1-1
== screened real fine pine bark (4 ?)
== Perlite ---------------------( 1)
== UltraSorb (DE) floor dri (1)

I use the same for potting (into cups, 2" pots) after germinating when I see some true leaves.
I bottom water the seedlings, keeping the top dry. This greatly reduces the chances of damp off.

This post was edited by seysonn on Mon, Nov 17, 14 at 9:19

    Bookmark   November 1, 2014 at 8:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


still another 2 to 3 months (depending where you are) before getting into action. So I am making some preps.
Bought couple of bags of pine bark mulch. Need to buy UltraSorb (DE) and perlite ( a bag of each).

The process starts first with:
1-- screening the pine bark mulch (~2- mix the other parts to make a 4(pb)-1 (perl)-1(DE).
Count down starts : T minus 60 days.

I have most of the seeds I need and am waiting to get some more from Johnny, the seeds swap.
Happy Off Season !


    Bookmark   November 17, 2014 at 9:34AM
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