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Seedlings getting too tall

Posted by nannybird (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 12, 12 at 12:45

I planted squash seeds in seed starter. They came up in about 3 days. Now they are growing too tall and they haven't gotten their second leaves. What causes this and what should I do?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

It sounds like they are stretching to reach the light. Are you growing them under flourescent lights, or in windows, or what? It may be a little early to start squash seeds, as Dawn advised me, altho some of the garden centers and big box stores are carrying them already.

Under lights indoors, I put my seedlings so that the tops are only an inch or two from the bulbs. If a window, make sure it is one that has tons of light from the South, ideally. And then you need to rotate to make sure they aren't leaning in one direction. This keeps them growing nice and straight. The cotyledons, or seed leaves, or first leaves, will eventually fall off. However, there is a risk that the elongated stems will not be sufficient to support the plants. If was me, I would start over, maybe in another week or so. Where are you located in Oklahoma, North, South, Central? That will determine when your plants will be ready to grow outside in the ground or in containers. Summer Squash can go out between April 10 and 30, depending on your location. You can also plant squash seeds directly in the ground.

I'm sure there will be others along shortly with other suggestions.

Susan


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

I am in NE Oklahoma, around the Muskogee area. They are growing by a window. I guess I probably just need to start over. Thanks for your reply


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

Nannybird,

Don't give up so easily. : )

The squash are stretching because they like lots of sunlight and it is hard to give them enough indoor light to make them happy. Squash likes lots of sunlight and is greedy and wants it from the minute it sprouts. In the Muskogee area y'all probably are pretty warm already and your soil temps may get warm enough this week to put those young squash seedlings into the wet, squishy ground. (Well, the ground here south of Marietta is wet and squishy, so I'm assuming yours is as well.) My soil temps dropped about 5 degrees over the weekend with its cool, cloudy days and nights, but they are going to skyrocket the next three days with highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 50s/lower 60s. I have raised beds and they do warm up more quickly than grade-level beds. I check my soil temps myself at planting depth with a kitchen meat thermometer with a metal probe.

So, since you likely are going to plant more seedlings anyway, why not put these out on the porch or someplace where they can get morning sun only or dappled sunlight for a few days and then put them in the garden. If they don't make it, you were planning to start new ones anyway.

Our soil temps are ahead of schedule, and after several days with highs in the upper 70s and lower 80s this week and with warm nights, I think soil temps will be warm enough that you can get away with planting early. Susan is right that April 10-30 is the OSU-recommended planting time, but we are hot early this year and I think we'll be able to get away with planting early. I planted bean and corns this morning and am transplanting tomato plants this afternoon. As far as I am concerned (and I have studied my soil temps and forecast carefully), it is spring and I am going to plunge right in and plant, plant, plant. If ever there is a year to push the boundries, I believe this one is it.

It is currently 78.1 degrees in the shade on our east-facing front porch and will be higher before the day is out. I'm thinking about direct-seeding some squash as soon as the soil has another day or two to dry out.

Dawn


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

Can we start our quash, Dawn, really? Cool beans. I thought you had told me it was a bit early yet, but my days are so crazy, I probably got that mixed up along with a hoard of other stuff.

I started some Chives, Flax, some pipevines, Swan River Daisy, and Portulaca today. Will get my beans and squash and cukes going, too, now - HURRAH!

Susan


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

Lol, nooo, I'm not ready for squash and beans yet! Mine are going to have to wait at least a few more weeks so that I can get the beds ready and start putting some trellises together.

I am tempted to start hardening off my chives seedlings, though. They're only about three inches tall right now, but unlike the tomatoes and peppers I don't think chives are all that fussy about the temperature. I just need to get them acclimated to the sun and wind. Unless, of course, someone stops me now and says I need to baby them inside for a few more weeks. :p


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

I am still holding back but I am very far north. I have snow peas finally coming up today, but the Sugar Snaps are not up. With the warm temps for the next few days I think I will put in another round of Sugar Snaps. One got uncovered and it had sprouted so I think these few days of warm weather should bring them above ground. We only got about 3/4 quarter inch of rain so the ground here isn't too muddy.

You guys are killing me by putting your summer crops in the ground when I don't even have my cole crops in. At least they have stayed outside for a few nights now, so I will be putting them in soon.


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

Thanks everyone. I think I will go ahead and plant them and see what happens.
So far we have planted onions, lettuce and green peas. Everything seems to be doing good so far.


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

Susan, It is traditionally too early for beans and in many parts of OK likely the soil temps are too cool, but our temperatures are insanely high and my soil in my raised beds is heating up fast, so I went ahead and planted them. I have a billion bean seeds, so if they don't germinate, it is not a major loss. Check your soil temps where you're going to plant them and see if it is warm enough.

Every year since we moved here, Fred has planted his beans in March a couple of weeks ahead of me and then given me a hard time "What, you don't have your beans in the ground yet?", etc. and this year I am ready for him. When he stops by to tell me his beans are planted, I will tell him that mine are too. He has better sandy soil on the old home place than my clay so he can get away planting earlier there than I can here, but this year I may get away with an early planting too.

I don't know exactly what soil temps and air temps are doing at anyone else's homes in other parts of the state, but our current nighttime lows already are about the same as our daytime highs normally are at this time of year, and our current daytime highs are almost 20 degrees higher than our usual March highs. I just cannot sit and wait for the right calendar date to roll around when the temps are like this. Even if a subsequent cold spell hits, I probably will be able to cover up and protect everything. We had some years like this in the early 2000s that warmed up early and they were great spring garden years.

I always emphasize that I put my plants into the ground when the air temps and ground temps are in the right range, and when the 10-day forecast looks good rather than planting blindly by the calendar, and that's precisely why I am planting so many warm-season crops right now...because the conditions are such that the seeds will germinate and the plants will grow. Often we struggle with the temps getting too high too early in the summer and the high temps having an adverse affect on garden productivity, so it only makes sense that if we get an early warm-up we take advantage of it in an attempt to beat the heat.

Heather, Harden off those chives babies and put them in the ground. They are remarkably cold-tolerant. Mine generally emerge from the soil in January (and sometimes stay green all winter) and are flowering by April. I have dug and divided them, and gotten called away from the garden by fires and left a bunch lying on the ground in freezing weather, and they didn't even freeze although their roots were exposed. They then began rooting down into the ground where they were lying and I had to dig them out of that pathway and plant them after I got back to the garden again a couple of weeks later. Chives are very tough.

Carol, I always put my warm season crops in the ground earlier than y'all, and you can't time your plantings by mine. I'm just too far south. It does seem peculiar to me to be putting warm-season crops in the ground when I just barely finished getting the cool-season ones planted, but in a year like this, it is worth the risk. Our temps are so high. I don't like transplanting tomatoes when the high is going to be 80 degrees, but they have been out in this weather all along, so should be able to take it.

Nannybird, Every now and then we get to plant early and don't have to regret it. I think this likely is one of those rare years.

Dawn


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

I remember planting peas and beans in the same week one year. We do a lot of guessing in Oklahoma gardening.

I planted one flat of seeds last night, and emptied one flat of seedlings into the garden today. Unless I get a couple more planted before dark, I will know I am falling behind. It isn't my first time in that position. LOL


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

One thing that worries me is that we'll heat up too fast and all the lovely cool-season crops will bolt or just won't make a crop. I would hate that.


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RE: Seedlings getting too tall

There are lots of things that I like from the garden, and of course tomatoes and peppers would be at the top, but most of the other things that I would really hate to miss are the early Spring crops; Sugar Snap peas, new potatoes, chinese cabbage, multi-colored lettuce, broccoli, etc., etc., etc.

I am hoping for a good bean year and a good squash year though, because last year was poor for me.


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