Return to the Oklahoma Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
seedlings growing VERY slow.

Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 23:39

I started my toms, peppers and brocolli on 2-14. All came up in the normal time. But I'm worried. They are all 4 weeks now and some barely have the first true set of leaves and some Dont even have that. My light is 4-twin lamp T5 lights that total 400 watts. It is about 6-8 inches above them because it heats them up a lot. Soil temps is always above 72. I even gave them some diluted MG a week and a half ago. At this rate they may never be ready to go in the ground. This is the exact same set up and varieties I used last year and I had great seedlings. I figured The toms should be twice their size by now.

 photo IMG_20140315_063054_630_zps4qdhxlvp.jpg
 photo IMG_20140315_063111_583_zpsbfs2odnu.jpg

Mike

This post was edited by mksmth on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 7:56


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, I only run about 27 watts per sq. ft. and get good growth. But I use T-8 bulbs just above the plants. I am like you, if every thing is like it was last year, why is growth rate different.

Larry


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 8:01

i am stumped Larry. I still have a month or so before they would go out anyways but goodness these guys could be tiny by then. Broccoli isnt in these pics. They are under a 2 lamp T8 but here again same set up. Im thinking I will need to go get some starts at the store and use my seedlings for a fall crop, LOL

mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

What sort of growing medium are they in? What is the air temperature in the room? Was the seed pretty fresh? There has to be some reason the seedlings are growing so slowly.

I started mine about a week after you started yours and mine have been severely neglected and ignored because I've been out at wildfires every day and most nights this week, and my seedlings are substantially larger than yours. I've struggled to find time even just to water them and haven't managed to feed them at all yet. Obviously something unusual is going on with your seedlings.

I do keep my lights lowered over the plants so that the lights sit only an inch or two above the plants . That helps keep the plants growing well and it prevents them from becoming etiolated (leggy ).

They aren't on a heat may are they?

I am least concerned about your pepper plants at this point, particularly if they are hot peppers, because pepper seedlings usually grow more slowly than tomato and broccoli seedlings. I think your tomato seedlings still have plenty of time to make good growth before the weather has stabilized enough that they can be put in the ground. With the broccoli, there is more concern because time could be running out there. Still, as long as you get broccoli seedlings with 3-5 true leaves in the ground by the beginning of April, they should have plenty of time to produce before the heat becomes intense enough for them to bolt.

So, while there is a reason to be concerned about their slow growth, it isn't time to panic yet.

I'm thinking it is the growing medium. If you used a sterile, soil-less mix, it contains no nutrition for them. If that is the case and they were my plants, I'd feed them a properly-diluted water-soluble fertilizer at full-strength because they are starving. If your lights cannot be lowered to put them closer to the plants, you could use something (pieces of scrap lumber, bricks, old books, etc) underneath the plant flats to raise the plants closer to the lights. Plants grown indoors under lights grow really well at air temperatures of 60-65, so keep that in mind too. If you are growing the seedlings in an unheated space, like a shed or garage, it is likely that cold nighttime air temperatures are slowing their growth. Because you have grown seedlings indoors under lights before, I not inclined to think you are keeping them too wet but will mention it anyway, just in case. Their growing medium needs to be evenly moist but never sopping wet.

Hope this helps,

Dawn


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 9:24

Thanks Dawn. The medium is just Hyponix Potting soil by Scotts. I bought it at walmart. that is the only difference from last year when I used MG but really arent they all same now. They are in the dining room of the house so temps are normally around 72. No heat mat. I can lower the light more but these T5's get hot and I was afraid of them burning.

Some of the tom seeds were left overs from last year but the others are fresh. They all seem to germinate within a day or 2 of each other.

I have been careful about watering. Im going to give them another shot of fert today and hope they react to it. Last time I think I diluted it way too much.
I think I will go get some broccoli starts today at the store because i too think Im running out of time to get some going.

mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike,

I never have been much of a fan of that particular brand of bagged mixes and haven't used it in well over a dozen years. Maybe it could be the heat from the lights but the heat from a lot of fluorescent light tubes ( my light system holds twenty 4' long fluorescent light bulbs) has the opposite effect on my seedlings---it keeps the room too hot and makes the seedlings grow too tall too fast. I have moved my seed starting shelf to Tim's office on the north side of the house this year because it is the coolest room in the house and I still have to open windows to let in cool air so the room doesn't overheat.

I understand about buying broccoli transplants today and I might do the same thing if I were in your position. It is prime broccoli weather right now, especially if some rain falls.

Dawn


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, I think your babies are starving. LOL

I planted my tomatoes 2 weeks later than my normal 20 Feb date, so they seem very small for this time of year. They germinated at a normal rate, but I have kept them growing cool hoping to get good roots but not a lot of top growth. I added a little liquid organic fertilizer to the water a couple of days ago. Some are getting their 2nd set of real leaves. My broccoli was started before the tomatoes and it looks tiny. The hot peppers went in late and are just now germinating. I had bad luck with my sweet peppers and will probably have to buy some transplants, but I may just start some others knowing that they will go in late. I do have a few orange bells that are doing OK. The sweet peppers were my own fault though because I was trying to use up some older seed, and I also didn't keep them warm enough to start with. I had put them in a tray with tomatoes and conditions were great for tomatoes, but not peppers.so I had to get under lights for the sake of the tomatoes before the peppers were ready to move. Just wasn't thinking when I planted them.

Our forecast is for 22 tomorrow night, so maybe it is still winter and I have plenty of time. LOL What a winter this has been.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 14:31

thanks all. I think they are hungry even though i did feed them. I guess not enough. I just gave them some food. Not quite full strength so I we shall see.

I just got home about an hour ago. while I was out I picked up a few broccoli transplant. I put them in the ground not 5 minutes before the rain started. It a nice gentle rain. A bit cool but nice.

mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

My tomato seedlings look bad and several never came up. Growing averthing the same way with the same seed dirt i have used for 13 years. I think my laundry room jut got to cold at times. But my peppers look pretty good. Think ill start more toms . Tree


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Welp, I was having the same problem with some of my seedlings. Thanks for posting this. I just finished feeding with worm tea. Time will tell.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

At least I'm not alone. My initial paste tomato starts are doing fairly well. Time to feed them.
Rutgers and Brandywines have been a little more spotty. All in all, I'll have enough to do what I need. The hybrid varieties finely germinated and will be ready to pot up this next week.
Peppers on the other hand have been little rascals. About 1% germination on sweet peppers, so far. Going with one last attempt. Sterilized in a 10 minute hydrogen peroxide bath and now sitting on wet paper towel. As soon as they swell, I'll put them in seed cells.
This may be the first year, I've had to buy bell pepper sets in a few years.
Hot peppers have done slightly better. At least the jalapeños.
Romaine lettuce is doing well, along with basil and cilantro.
Most everything has been started in the greenhouse without grow lights or a heat mat. I use an electric heater placed under the bench, which maintains good germination temps.
Heat mats will be added as the budget allows.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Carol, I probably will have extra sweet pepper transplants to bring to the swap, so don't buy any too soon. Since I haven't potted them up from the starter flat, I haven't counted the actual seedlings yet, but I know I sowed too many sweet pepper seeds.

I started hot peppers late, but it is unlikely to matter much since we probably will have winter until July 4th this year. (I cannot take credit for that, a friend who grew up farming here said that to me at a wildfire last week when I was lamenting the fact that I should be at home planting, not out there breathing in all that lovely smokey air.) The thought of not being able to put plants in the ground until July 4th practically made me have a panic attack.

Your forecast of 22 degrees is awfully cold. I haven't looked at our forecast this evening, but it showed a low of 31 the last time I looked at it. Considering my forecast has gone as low as 18 degrees lower than forecast in past years, a forecast low of 31 isn't as good as it seems like it would be.

I brought the big tomato plants in containers inside tonight and left them in the mudroom. It isn't heated, but rarely drops below 60 degrees so should be plenty warm for them, and will be warmer than the unheated greenhouse.

All my seedlings have really taken off and started growing better in the last week. I think that they just got big enough to have that growth spurt. Plus, we haven't had a night in the teens in at least the last week, right?

We're all so impatient with our seedlings this year. I think it is just that the roller coaster weather has us itching to get on with things on the warm days....if only the cold nights weren't getting so very cold still.

A couple more weeks of growth can make a huge difference with seedlings that seem too small. Usually by now I have been moving even warm-season seedlings outside for a little bit of real sunlight, and it is amazing how much faster they grow once they get regular doses of real sunshine.

I want to move all the flats on the light shelf, except for the peppers, out to the greenhouse tomorrow, but will wait and study the forecast carefully before I do so. Once they are out, I don't want to carry them back in again, and I don't want to have to drag a heater out to the greenhouse either.

My demands are simple: I want for all the weather and all the seedlings to cooperate with me and do exactly what I want exactly when I want it. Y'all don't think that is unreasonable, do you?

Dawn


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Not at all.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Thanks Dawn. I had a strange time with transplants last year also, but for a different reason. My aunt died down near you, and Al's sister's husband died in Colorado, one day apart. We both left home the same day going in different directions just as my peppers were germinating. I never did start a new tray of peppers and the other things survived the neglect. A while later, I happened to stop at a nursery near Dorothy and bought a few six packs of sweet peppers. They didn't have a name on them, but turned out to be really good producers.

I wish you could order the weather you want Dawn, then maybe we could all have a better garden. LOL


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

I've got a few pepper plants that still look like that, but the rest of my seedlings are doing well. Except for Heidi tomatoes. The first seeds I planted didn't germinate so I started the rest. No germination at all. It's the plant that always performs best for me, so I'm disappointed. It was with the rest of my seed but something must have happened to it. I guess I'm not growing that this year. I have a few extra Speckled Roman so maybe I'll just plant those.

Leslie


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 20:29

Well they seem to be responding to the food. I must have diluted it way too much the last time. Or maybe since I bought some transplants they decided to shape up LoL.

Mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

I am glad they are responding to the feeding.

I moved all my seedlings, except for the pepper and hibiscus, to the greenhouse today and they look happier already. We had such beautiful sunlight today.

There's no need to get in a hurry with our seedlings since it is going to stay incredibly cold until at least August 1st. I think we'll remember 2014 as the year without a spring. I bet we go from a very long winter to summer in the blink of an eye.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 3:11

Hee, hee, the year Mother Nature forgot to bring Spring ? and yes, I believe you're right...we'll be normal in that we get sudden hot weather.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 10:14

i would not be surprised if that happens Dawn.

On a good note. As far as I can tell it seems I may have about 60% of the onions I planted before that last round of bitter cold coming up through the mulch. I was hoping to have saved at least half so that was encouraging to see. Looks like Texas 1015 did better than granex did at surviving.

mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, I think I saved most of my onions from that cold snap. I brushed most of the chopped leaves away and see most everything is still going strong. A few look a little crispy at the top of the leaves. I went ahead and planted three bunches of spares yesterday, so if they all make it, I will have plenty of onions!


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, I think most of my onions and garlic made it through the cold spell, but may not produce. At this point it looks like the ones that had the best protection also had the heaviest loses. I some rotted and others froze to the mulch and were pulled when I raked the mulch back. I expect to have plenty of onions and garlic even though they look like they need to be on life support now.

Larry

 photo 001_zps1d9a0ce5.jpg

 photo 003_zpsa0f832dc.jpg


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Yup, Mike. Was the same problem I was having. after a good feed they were all like "Ooooh! Time to grow!"


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

I got my "sudden onset of heat" today. I kept wondering why it felt so hot out there in the garden, so came up to the house to check the thermometer. Our high topped out at 85 and our relative humidity bottomed out at 13%. It felt more like May than March, and I'm not complaining about that. The cold front will pass through here in a few hours and we'll drop to around 40 degrees by morning, so I only got a little taste of May weather, but it was so very nice.

Now that my seedlings are out in the greenhouse, they're getting much better light and are growing more rapidly.

I couldn't get any planting done today because the garden was so muddy from the rain, but the soil had dried out a lot by dinnertime, so I think it will be dry enough to finish the cool-season plantings tomorrow.

I have a lot to plant---not only cool-season seeds and transplants, but a few trees, annual and perennial flowers and some cool-season herbs.

My average last frost date is just 10 days away, and I will be pushing hard to do warm season planting as early as reasonably possible given that a big cold front arrives around the same time. I always feel in such a hurry to beat the onset of the heat.

Those of you with slow-growing seedlings---I expect they'll grow rapidly as soon as they get a little sunlight too. My young tomato seedlings had their second day out in the sun (one hour yesterday, two hours today) and looked so perky afterwards. The greenhouse has shade cloth so they have to go outside to get full sun, but then spend the rest of the day inside the greenhouse with the shade cloth protecting them from sunburning.

Remember that sterile, soil-less mixes used for seed-starting have no nutrition in them, so you do have to feed the seedlings if you want them to grow and develop after they sprout. Otherwise they tend to sit there and stall. If their growth stalls for too long, their growth can be stunted. If they stay too stunted for too long, it is hard for them to pull out of the stall and catch up.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Um...(gulp)....feed them? Sheesh. And this ain't my first rodeo. I thought somewhere a few years back I got the advice to NOT fertilize...so I didn't....and haven't....but I did tonight for the first time in several years. Yes, go ahead and assign me the "Dunce" cap.

Just goes to show ya learning comes at every step.


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 7:45

Well 2 weeks later and I think they are back on schedule. The fertilizer seems to have helped a lot. I'm praying we get no more real cold.
Mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

That is great growth for two weeks! what kind of fertilizer did you use? last year I used fish emulsion....in the house and it was 3 days before I could stand it in here.
kim


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Paula, Well, you don't feed them too early or often, but because sterile, soil-less seed mixes do not contain any material in them that will provide nutrition for the seedlings, they are going to need to be fed something at some point. I don't feed mine automatically---I wait until it appears their growth has stalled and then I feed them. One feeding is usually all it takes for most of them unless it is something like peppers that I hold in their containers longer while waiting for the outdoor soil and air temperatures to stabilize and stay warm.

Kim, I only use fish emulsion after the plants have been moved outside to stay. If I use it indoors, our cats prowl the house relentlessly looking for the fish they smell. They do the same thing outdoors, but the wind outdoors disperses the lovely fish aroma much more quickly than when the plants are inside. If I need to feed them while it still is so cold that I cannot move them outside yet, I use either liquid seaweed or compost tea.

Dawn


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

  • Posted by mksmth oklahoma 7a (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 8:48

Thanks Kim. Honestly I used miracle grow "tomato" fertilizer. I know a lot of people frown on using MG but I haven't had any issues with it. I used the tomato one not because it says tomato but more because the nutrients are pretty even. I really wish MG or someone would make a water soluble with micro nutrients available locally. Of course it can be ordered but I hate paying shipping.
Mike


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, those look nice. I did not start any seeds till yesterday, to use for a fall crop. I bought 16 tomato plants to use as my main crop, I am trying to grow fewer tomatoes, and grow more different kinds of crops.

I was looking at last years garden pictures and it shows that I am running later this year.

Last year I started adding compost to my potting soil, it is something I still want to experiment with. It would be nice if I could add a little sunshine, maybe that would keep them happier in the house.

Larry


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

I'm glad I'm not the only one sweating their tiny plants. Since going back to work full time (which was really more like full time plus), I started my seeds WAY later than normal. So I'm feeling a little pressure to fast track them as much as mother nature will allow. I'm trying all sorts of things to speed up the process knowing full well that they'll ultimately do what they want regardless of my efforts. lol


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Thanks Dawn and Mike.
I did not realize fish emulsion would be that bad diluted. well it was pretty funny actually. My son would not even come over until the smell was gone.
I believe I will try the compost tea this year. I wont be going near a store until next weekend and my tomatoes need help.
kim


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Mike, I have nothing against Miracle Grow water-soluble fertilizer and, in fact, do use it sometimes myself. It is just that I prefer to use organic fertilizers most of the time. One difference between most organic fertilizers and most synthetic fertilizers is that the synthetic fertilizers seem to give the plants a bigger boost more quickly, although that is not necessarily desirable in some cases. Why is a big, quick boost in growth sometimes undesirable? There's lots of reasons, but the one that I am most concerned about is that sometimes the ones that verge towards being a bit high in nitrogen will cause more top growth to occur too quickly and the still-immature and smaller root system cannot support that top growth. Also, if you're working to create biologically healthy soil with lots of microbes, synthetic fertilizers can have an adverse effect on your microbe level so those fertilizers are working against you in your effort to create soil that is teeming with microbes. I like using the Espoma line of dry fertilizers because they do contain some of the microbes needed in biologically active soil. However, I've liked them less and used them less since they changed the formula of the Tomato-Tone a few years ago.

I think that there is room for both synthetic and organic fertilizers in any gardening program, particular when we are talking about growing plants in containers. Because container growing here requires so much watering in the summer, even with very large containers, it can be hard to grow in containers organically because of the way the constant watering leaches nutrients from the soil.

In a year when we have tons of rainfall (here in my part of OK, I'm thinking back to 2010, 2007 and 2004), the constant rain can keep the root systems of the plants so saturated with water that they cannot take up adequate nutrition and the plants will stall in growth and develop a sickly color, that generally indicates a lack of nutrition because of the waterlogged roots. In a case like that, I'll spray the foliage of the plants with a water soluable fertilizer because at least that way they are getting some nutrition. Using Miracle Grow in this way pretty much saved my garden in 2007, and also in 2009 when a freak of-nature rainstorm dumped almost 13" of rain over our part of the county in one 24-hour period. The last thing my plants needed was more water on their roots, so by using a water-soluble fertilizer sprayed on the foliage, I could give them food without waterlogging the roots even more.

Larry, Everyone I know here at the southern end of OK is way behind too. Pretty much all I've seen in any garden other than mine is onions. I do think some of my fellow gardeners here will be trying to get the rest of their cool-season crops in the ground this weekend because it is getting too late to put it off any longer.

I have onions, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, potatoes, sugar snap peas, strawberries and some herbs and flowers growing now, but the only ones that really went into the ground on time were the onions, and I feel like I've been playing catch-up with everything else. Oh, and the tomato plants in the one early bed, which were planted my favorite way--early.

The rest of my tomato plants (the ones I grew myself) aren't fully hardened-off, and won't be for another few weeks. I keep moving them into the shade-cloth covered greenhouse to get them out of the strong winds, so it has been hard to get them the ever-increasing increments of light needed to harden them off. This year its been a one step forward two steps back effort with the hardening off of the plants.

I've got tons and tons of seedlings on the light shelf indoors and might move a bunch of them outside to the greenhouse later today. I am fighting a losing battle because the minute I move a flat or multiple flats of plants to the greenhouse, I feel compelled to fill up the empty shelves on the light shelf by starting more seeds.

Carsonsmimi, Well, April is around the corner and it usually brings the onset of severe weather, so it might not be so bad to be a little behind with the seedlings. When the early-April severe weather hits, your seedling babies will be safe indoors. It's so hard to put them in the ground at the time that feels right if the weather forecast shows the potential for severe weather that same day. I cannot tell you how many times I have said "the heck with the weather, I'm planting" and then have had hail hit my seedlings the very same day I put them in the ground.

It would be so much easier to be gardeners in Oklahoma if the weather didn't have so many ways to attack our gardens. It isn't fair that we have to worry about frost and freezing temperatures overnight and early in the morning, and then worry about high wind, wildfires, hail, and tornadoes the rest of the time.

Kim, The very first time I bought fish emulsion and opened up the bottle, I thought I had bought something that had gone bad. : ) It sure is stinky stuff.

Dawn


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

Last year I fertilized my seedlings with fish emulsion and that was when I kept them in the living room. My family wasn't too happy about that, lol. I've been using compost tea this year.

I don't think it's a big deal to do a light feed with Miracle Grow or other synthetic fertilizers for seedlings but I'd rather use "organic" fertilizers once they are planted in the garden. I use organic in quotations because I define it as using natural products that feeds and encourages the soil food web which may or may not be certified organic. The salts in synthetic fertilizers can kill the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Also, synthetics don't provide many of the micronutrients. So I highly amend my soil to feed those microbes and those microbes feed my plants. Dawn makes a good point to use synthetics when your plants are waterlogged.

That being said, when it's June or July and we get a cold front in the 80's, you bet I'll be out in my garden fertilizing my plants with a bloom booster fertilizer. I'm grateful I learned that here last summer because I think it helped me have a more productive garden.

Larry, I've put my seedlings in Mel's mix, from Square Foot Gardening book which is 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and have been very successful with it as long as I used high quality compost.

Cynthia


 o
RE: seedlings growing VERY slow.

The spinach sprouts enjoy the soil in the monster planter. Lettuce is trying to come up, too. Yet, the spinach seems stalled. I'm going to try some worm tea again. it seems to be holding moisture really well. I wish I had some coco coir in that soil. It works so well. Sometimes I don' think the roots are getting enough air in my amended, but heavy soil.

I am tempted to add some chemical nitrogen somewhere just to see the difference. Hard to know what's stunting them. They were also exposed to a brief freeze but I've seen growth since then.

bon


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here