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Article: Seed Starting 101: The Dreaded Damping Off (and How to Prevent It): Newbie here with a few questions

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Forum: Article: Seed Starting 101: The Dreaded Damping Off (and How to Prevent It)Replies: 3, Views: 65
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Philadelphia, PA

April 10, 2008
5:38 PM

Post #4787555

I have started my first seedlings in 2" peat pots. I planted tomatoes, nasturtiums, viola tricolor (johnny jump ups) bush morning glory and forget-me-nots (pretty ambitious for a newbie eh? : ). I started my seedlings indoors and I have had 98% success in seed germination. Just to be clear, I live in Philadelphia (zone 6) and do not have a garden, but have been successful over the past year with container gardening. I planted a tomato plant last year and it did extremely well. For a container plant it gave us months of tomatoes. However, with seedlings I am unsure. I think I may have put too many seeds in each peat pot. I have been successful so far in separating some of the tomatoes and the transplants are thriving in their individual peat pot. How long should I wait before I transplant them outside? I have seen pictures where the stalks are thick and green, however, my tomato seedlings are thin and only have two leaves. They are about 5 weeks old. Am I asking for too much to fast? Should young seedlings be feed? The seed packet did not give me much help except to say that I should thin them out when they are about two inches tall (check) and that they harvest in 65 days.

On another note, I have had a few stems that have fallen over and one or two that appears as if it was snipped at the soil line. The other seedlings still look healthy. How will I know if they are suffering from damping off? Any help anyone could provide me would be greatful. I will take some pictures and upload them later today.
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 10, 2008
6:11 PM

Post #4787699

Welcome to DG! Have you found your way over to the "Beginner" forums? If you were a subscriber, I'd also direct you over to the tomato and veggie forums... and I hope you'll decide you like DG well enough to try a subscription at some point, because you'll be amazed at how much more is here!

I start tomatoes in shallow trays of potting mix, in rows spaced only an inch apart, and then I transplant them once they get their first "true" leaves (the very first leaves that seeds sprout are "cotyledons" or nurse leaves). Except that I transplant them singly rather than in clumps like basil and some others, I start tomatoes very similarly to the way I describe in my "Seed Starting 101: Sowing and Transplanting" article.

At 5 weeks old, your seedlings should have more than 2 leaves. I don't fertilize tomato seedlings until I plant them out, so I don't think that's the problem. What are you doing for light? I'm guessing that might be the issue. Please check out "Seed Starting 101: Setting up Light Shelves."

As you can see, I've been writing a series of seed starting articles this year... you can click on the link at the bottom of the above article to see a list of all the articles I've written. I think the "Seed Starting" articles might be helpful to you. Today's article was on hardening off your seedlings -- very important before you put them out next month! -- and next Thursday there will be an article with some transplanting tips.

The ones that have fallen over or been "snipped" at the soil line have probably damped off... following the suggestions in this article should help (fan, bottom watering, hydrogen peroxide or chamomile tea, etc.).

Good luck, and have fun!

Philadelphia, PA

April 11, 2008
7:19 PM

Post #4793248

Thank you very much for the advice. I will be looking for those articles! I do not have a direct light source as they are in the kitchen window sill. Luckly I get full sun in that part of the house and the back deck. I am looking to get one of the shelf lamps suggested, but there are so many to choose from. I will go to the beginners section and see what others recommend.

Thanks again!
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 11, 2008
8:10 PM

Post #4793529

You're welcome!

Windowsill light is never as bright as it seems to us... I was amazed at the difference when I started growing under lights. An inexpensive shop light fixture with cool fluorescent bulbs will be just fine for seedlings -- no need to shell out the bucks for fancy "grow lights." :-)

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Other Article: Seed Starting 101: The Dreaded Damping Off (and How to Prevent It) Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Very good info Lindawalkabout 14 Feb 25, 2008 3:30 PM
Shelf life daylilydaddy 5 Feb 7, 2008 4:58 PM
Thanks so much! kd2000 3 Feb 7, 2008 7:49 PM
Just what I needed (sob!) Fleurs 5 Apr 1, 2008 6:39 PM
A timely article pamsaplantin 4 Mar 4, 2008 6:19 AM

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