indoor seed starting advice needed

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by tripletmom, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. tripletmom

    tripletmom Well-Known Member

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    In past years, I've started my seeds in a small dormer with windows on the south, west and north side. It was never ideal, but it worked. Usually the plants were slow to sprout because it wasn't real warm, and ended up spindly but like I said, it worked. This year, the dormer was not available due to construction so DH made this awsome hot room in the basement. To this point, we've kept it about 85-90 degrees, and things just don't seem to be going well at all! When the seedlings started reaching for the lights, I lowered the lights, I also added some additional lights. The main light is a 4 foot double tube type, one is a flood light type and one is a regular bulb type, all packaged and sold as "plant lights". Many of my seeds haven't sprouted, which could be the result of old seeds but the ones that have look sick! Some have dried up and died, even though they've been watered. Some are just laying over. I've got little mushrooms growing where my celery isn't sprouting! Help me please, the thoughts of buying plants makes me ill!
     
  2. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

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    Sounds to me like damp off, and not enough bottom heat to get seedlings started. I place my seed trays on top of the fridge and top of book cases to provide enough heat. Use sterile soil, and bottom water, (I add a drop of cheap dish deteregent to water) There is a product on the market to stop damp off as well. Make sure you have drainage. Soil should be moist, not soggy.

    Using fresh seed is probably a good idea as well.
     

  3. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    i would agree, air temp means nothing
    wet soil stays colder
    i put mine on top of a tall bookshelf , and for the first few weeks, i drape plastic over the light, making a tent to keep them going ifyou find an older heating pad without the shut off , they work well for keeping things warm , otherwise, the seed starter mats are about 30.00, if youreo nly starting a few things its not too expensive,
    for me, they would never work , i would need like 6 of them:)
    at this point there may be nothing you can do to save them , but bottom heat will help , perhaps
    if you can see if theres too much water, you can gently squeze some of it out if you cant get any type of bottom heat, at least place them on a nice thick blanket , and drape the plastic over the lights

    i know its possible to do it , because ive raised mine in a home with nothing but wood heat, which means some wildly differeing temps , but they will grow ,
    good luck
     
  4. coventry49

    coventry49 Well-Known Member

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    I tip I learned recently was to start my seedlings in the oven! Turn the oven light on and put a thermometer in there. If the inside temp, from the oven light, gets to about 80 degrees, that's all the heat you will need to get most seedlings sprouted. Of course, you won't be able to use the oven for a week or so.. :haha: It's worked very well for my pepper and tomato plants.

    After your baby plants have sprouted, place them directly under a shoplight (or a pair of shoplights, if necessary), no more than 2" below the lightbulbs. I use the "daylight" style bulbs, even though they are a bit more expensive. Growing seedlings normally do not need as much heat as sprouting seeds, so you can use a cooler room to grow them out. Raise the lights as the baby seedlings grow, to keep them about 2" above the seedlings. Also, remember to turn the lights off at nighttime. The seedlings need 6 - hours of normal darkenss to rest and metabolize all that light.

    Hope this helps! :)
     
  5. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

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    Like the others have said the air temperature means little. Depending on the seed, ground temperature generally needs to be between 68-72. If you take a meat thermometer and stick it in your soil, you can see if that's where it's at (we keeps ours in all the time). Once they've sprouted, try to keep the air temp in the 70s, and water only when the soil drys out. Too warm and damp, and stagnet air, and you have dampening off. Having kept greenhouses in Michigan, I soon learned that the biggest problem wasn't keeping them warm, but keeping them vented and cool so that disease and mold didn't grow.

    Good Luck--Nax
     
  6. bonnie lass

    bonnie lass Semper Fi

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    I just read recently that if you sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the soil after you plant your seeds, it helps to prevent damp off. I don't know if it works, but it couldn't hurt to try.
     
  7. kathrynlmv

    kathrynlmv Well-Known Member

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    Hey tripletmom....Damping off is a condition that affects very young plants or just-started-seedlings, in which they inexplicably up and die. Usually it's attributing to unsterile soil(harboring all kinds of molds) and too much dampness. I've raised seedlings both ways....in the windows with actual sunlight and in the basement with artificial light...and my experience has been like yours....in the basement, you have a much bigger problem with seedlings than if you have them in direct sunlight....I think there's something about real sunlight that is sterilizing and healing to plants in general, (and humans too) but especially with the babies...they just have all kinds of problems without it. kathrynlmv
     
  8. tripletmom

    tripletmom Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for the advice. I spent the week-end letting them dry out a bit and actually am a little encouraged by what I'm seeing. Also, some more of the seeds are sprouting and that's encouraging also. My husband suggested putting a fan in there to circulate the air, might that help?