1st time on forum 1st time growing veg from seed HELP!!

Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

I've read and reread how to do it but nothing is better than talking to someone that has had experience in doing this so here goes, we have just built a greenhouse with UV safety panels in it. I have put some seeds
In a unheated propigator (the trays with lids on) do I put in greenhouse to start off which is about 40 - 60 degrees at moment or leave them inside to start off. They are in a bedroom at present had a look and condensation on the inside and a bit off white fluff on top of soil, this is after a couple of days, do I wipe off water? Or do I take lid off for a while?, as you can tell a definite novice. Any tips will be appreciated. Thanks in advance. I am having a go at growing peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, strawberries.

North Brunswick Town, NJ(Zone 7a)

White fluff on top of soil? Too much moisture for sure. If they are in your home, you may not even need the lids. You have many varieties of veggies thee, ALL of which I have grown, and soon you will need more specific advice per plant type. ex: strawberries love cooler weather, my strawberries bloom and fruit wildly in early spring, then slow down in the dead of summer, then explode again in the fall. My bell peppers do the same, while tomatoes thrive up to 90 degreesF and most hot pepper varieties do well above even that temp.
Well, to answer one of your questions, you definitely have too much moisture, which can baring mold and fungus to your seedlings. I would leave the lids off, and hold back on the watering for a while.
I hope this helps you a little. I have never grown in a greenhouse, so unfortunately someone else will need to help you with that. Best of luck, and have a great harvest!


Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

Unfortunately, experience is a learning tool. We learn thru trial & error. Start out now, & in a couple of years, you'll learn what works. Nothing is instant. Everything requires work & more work. Knowledge is learned. My advice would be to start out with l vegetable & find out its requirements. Grow it until you learn everything there is about this vegetable. Then choose another one & so forth.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I've had the white "fluff' before on tomato seedling soil. Looks sort of like fine webbing or light mold?

I asked Dr. Carolyn Male who advised that it might be an airborne mold spore. Quite harmless. It settles on the soil from the air.

I used a chopstick to scrape it off. No problems with my seedling growth...

I start my tomato seeds in a covered greenhouse, or a seed tray placed inside a clear plastic baggie. I vent each system to control the amount of condensation inside, but keep them covered JUST UNTIL THE VERY FIRST TOMATO SEEDLING DECLARES (peeps -- pops -- shows itself, etc...).

Then, the greenhouse cover/baggie is removed, and the seedling tray IMMEDIATELY goes under grow lights. I use regular 12T fluorescent light tubes. Lights are kept no further than 1-2" from the tops of the tomato seedlings, and remain on at least 14-17 hours per day, on a timer.

NO FERTILIZER to the tomato plants until after the 2nd set of true leaves.

I add one capful of Hydrogen Peroxide to a gallon of water and top water until after the 1st set of true leaves come on.

Then, BOTTOM WATER the tray with regular water, allow the plants to take up what they want, then use a turkey baster to remove any excess water after about 15-20 minutes.

NEVER allow the plants to sit in a tray of water overnight!! I DO water late at night (out of necessity), but I remove the excess before retiring -- I can measure overnight plant growth each morning, too, LOL!

YELLOWING leaves could indicate too much water, or possibly a nutrient deficiency, so pay attention to what your plants tell you -- they do have ways of communicating. Most recommend NOT fertilizing tomato seedlings until you transplant them out. I tried that several times, and my babies rebelled. So, when they tell me they're ready for baby food, I give them a very, very, very LIGHT application of something, to tide them along.

After the 1st true leaves come on, aim a gently breeze at the seedlings, just enough to lightly move their leaves. This helps strengthen them, and beef them up.

If the leaves start turning PURPLE on the undersides, the seedlings are too wet and cold. Make an adjustment. Think "Blue Babies" from the 40's. Baby plants do the same thing, only their color of choice is purple.

Hope these tips help you along. Call me (dmail) if you have any trouble. I'll watch this page.


Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl Thumbnail by Gymgirl
Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Hi GymGirl, your grow light system is very interesting with the bricks and wood planks. Do you ever put grow lights in your basement . I was a bit optimistic about doing it because of the gnats that appear from the plants sometimes.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I don't have a basement. My two spare bedrooms are outfitted for the seedlings.

Since the air vents are wonky, they are started in the warm room til they declare and get one set of true leaves. Then, I move them to the cool room to grow on with a breeze from a small fan.

The cool slows them down, and the fan beefs them up so they grow stout, like little trees.

Lights are kept 1-2" from their heads, on 6a-11p, daily.

I have expanded the units to 4 shelves in each room, with two 48" shop lights side x side on each shelf.

There are a total of 16 shop kits purchased over time @ ~$10/kit. A case of 12 tubes is $20. The tubes are changed out every 3rd season or so.

I'll be starting half my fall/winter seedlings in mid-June this year, for plant out in mid-August. Second half started in early August for transplanting out early October. And, I might direct sow a final batch in mid- December for a mid-April harvest.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Gym girl (Linda) you're a sweetie.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Thank you, Turtle!

Crush up some mosquito "Dunks" and sprinkle a bit of the dust on the soil. It helps with the knats, too.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree with comments above.

Condensation on the "humidity dome" means the soil is wetter than it should be. I got into the over-watering habit and now can't stop. Put away the watering can!

Even bottom-watering is not necessary unless the soil starts to get dry. "Barely moist" is probably moist enough.

Probably some fungus on the soil is not TOO serious, it's just a symptom. But if your seedlings emerge, they may be vulnerable to fungus right at the soil surface. If they go soft right at the soil surface and fall over, you have "damping off" - welcome to trial and error!

I used to complain about how many trays of seeds I killed while learning (I'm still learning). One very nice experienced gardener explained that you aren't really GARDENING until you've tried enough new things that you've killed large numbers of plants. Over time, you kill fewer plants, then you move up to fussier plants and kill those off for a few years.

If you have trouble controlling the amount of water in the soil, consider this: the real problem is that excess water displaces the air that seeds and roots need to keep from rotting. If you use a professional seedling MIX (not SOIL, MIX), it will be "fluffy" enough to stay aerated even when it is too wet.

I add screened pine bark (or fir or balsam) (or coarse Perlite or granite grit or crushed stone) to soilless mixes so I'm SURE that roots can get air no matter how much I overwater. It helps.

Bottom-watering also helps reduce water-logging. Here's an easy and cheap way to bottom-water:


P.S. A greenhouse traps heat. So does the clear plastic "humidity dome". You might over-heat the seedlings using BOTH if the sun comes out even briefly. besides, once the seeds germinate, the seedlings need air movement and LOW humidity, not high humidity.

The only purpose the dome serves is to keep the soil surface moist, and you could do that by misting 1-2 times per day. Assuming your seeds need warmth (not all do), the dome might be keeping soil temps up ... but plants like lettuce need COOL soil to germinate!

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Hi GymGirl , I cannot believe there is someone else like me who uses their spare bedroom to keep the seedlings . I first start mine under a single grow light on my kitchen counter and as they get bigger I put them on the desk in the computer room and on the top of my chest of drawers n the spare bedroom and pull back my window curtains to let the sunlight in since it gets the sun from midday onwards . I gently tap my seedlings to get them stronger. I am not into fall gardening except for planting bulbs.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I use my own bedroom to start seeds heatmat and all. Lol you can also run your hands gently across the top of your seedlings to make them stronger. I just keep the ceiling fan on.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Yes, we are all in this together!

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Yup; I'm using my dining area which is also the route to the bedroom. My partner sweeps at least 5 times a day, no exaggeration.

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Gymgirl, you're not going to believe this, but I have a print-out of similiar instructions that I got from you a couple of years ago in my Gardening Journal at home :) I always refer to it when potting-up, etc. I have a ? for you, or anyone that wants to jump in here. All my tomato seedlings are looking pretty good except for one. I did one Brandywine that is kind of yellow and not as sturdy as everything else.Should I toss it just in case it's diseased? I really cut down my number this year and I really only wanted one Brandywine, but it's not worth infecting everything else. Am I being overly cautious?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Hey Peggy!
In my operation, a yellowing seedling means one of two things:
1. Overwatering... or
2. The baby wants to eat...

Check #1 and if your Brandywine soil seems too moist, hold off for a bit and let it dry out.

Now, there's disagreement over #2. Some say NO feeding tomato babies til they're transplanted (after hardening off). I can respect this camp of thought.

However, when a babe starts getting yellowy, and I KNOW I'm not overwatering it, I give it a tiny bit of fertilizer. When I was using the blue stuff, I barely colored the water in a gallon jug. If that baby starts perking up and looking better, well, there you have it, yuh think?

Now, just cuz a little snack works, I don't give a baby a seven course meal, LOL!

In this case, less really is more. Just a snack, once a week. See how it goes. Plain water the rest of the week.

LMK how your Brandywine baby fares!

Hope this helps!

This message was edited Apr 28, 2014 8:09 AM

Lexington, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks Linda! If ever there was a "Garden Angel", you are she! Baby Brandywine is looking a little perkier already. Glad to know the possible prognosis isn't that she's sick. . .just hungry. . .lol!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


That's great news. Keep up the good work, and watch your babies.

They do talk to you, and tell you what they need. You just have to learn the language and watch for the signs, LOL!

If you don't mind, keep posting your baby's improvement here, periodically, until you transplant out. I'd like to keep track of how that Brandywine progresses.


Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

I must say this is the first year that I have got such nice and big tomato plants . One of my gardening friends in her 80 s show me how to make a diluted mixture of that blue stuff fertilizer and I have been using it . Even my peppers, eggplants and cuckes are doing fine too

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

That's great news cytf!

Glad to know someone else uses that blue stuff! It's all good!

North Brunswick Town, NJ(Zone 7a)

Cytf - have you planted outside yet? I only ask as I am curious as to how our recent cool weather has been affecting them. Obviously they are doing great, glad to hear :-)

Time to prepare to batten down the hatches tonight! Lol we have quite the rain storm moving in huh... I have some baby cukes outside with my flower bed, and will try to offer them some protection from the heaviest rains tomorrow. Hopefully they don't get smashed to bits! Yikes...

Take care, happy gardening!

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

No Dannyboy91, I did not put my plants outside yet I still have to harden them off first . Once the weather stay up in the sixties I will begin to do that.

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