Indoor Seedling Starting Problems This Year

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Hi Folks

Living in New England (CT), I’ve learned a lot starting vegetable seedlings indoors (mostly tomatoes and peppers) over the last couple of years. I used to have pretty poor luck but got much better results with the addition of a heating mat and a pair of florescent bulbs in a basic shop fixture.

Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues once again this year, and I’m wondering if it could be at all related to the cooler-than-usual Spring we’ve had. I started my seedlings a couple of weeks earlier this year (mid-March instead of late-March), and the room where I have my sprouting setup is an unheated though fully-covered porch, so evening temperatures certainly have been dipping down into the 40s.

I had excellent germination of my mostly tomato and pepper seeds, but it’s been almost 6 weeks and the tomato seedlings seem “leggy,” and still haven’t grown their first true set of leaves:
d8DVxrFjmSHYbCT0WC77S6VaNRVBo7rWgOgXIXjPZ3o



As for the pepper seedlings, I had excellent germination rates with them, too, but now they all seem to be drooping and dying, and none of them have gotten their first true set of leaves either:
viNt5Zo57mj1Cv26nzX50uTa9KxzDp6ONtkI4dEhvZw


I turned off the heating mat after everything germinated, although I’ve now wondered if I should have left it on longer, possibly overnight. The lights are hanging a few inches above the seedlings and are on for 16 hours a day. I’ve tried to be mindful of watering them correctly (not too much, not too little), and the seedlings are in a nice coconut husk sprouting medium.

Any thoughts/advice?

Thanks in advance…
 
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Hi Folks

Living in New England (CT), I’ve learned a lot starting vegetable seedlings indoors (mostly tomatoes and peppers) over the last couple of years. I used to have pretty poor luck but got much better results with the addition of a heating mat and a pair of florescent bulbs in a basic shop fixture.

Unfortunately, I’ve been having some issues once again this year, and I’m wondering if it could be at all related to the cooler-than-usual Spring we’ve had. I started my seedlings a couple of weeks earlier this year (mid-March instead of late-March), and the room where I have my sprouting setup is an unheated though fully-covered porch, so evening temperatures certainly have been dipping down into the 40s.

I had excellent germination of my mostly tomato and pepper seeds, but it’s been almost 6 weeks and the tomato seedlings seem “leggy,” and still haven’t grown their first true set of leaves:
d8DVxrFjmSHYbCT0WC77S6VaNRVBo7rWgOgXIXjPZ3o



As for the pepper seedlings, I had excellent germination rates with them, too, but now they all seem to be drooping and dying, and none of them have gotten their first true set of leaves either:
viNt5Zo57mj1Cv26nzX50uTa9KxzDp6ONtkI4dEhvZw


I turned off the heating mat after everything germinated, although I’ve now wondered if I should have left it on longer, possibly overnight. The lights are hanging a few inches above the seedlings and are on for 16 hours a day. I’ve tried to be mindful of watering them correctly (not too much, not too little), and the seedlings are in a nice coconut husk sprouting medium.

Any thoughts/advice?

Thanks in advance…
Did your plants just fall over and die? Did they seem to have an injury at soil level. Did the stem at soil level change shapes and/or change color?
 
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Hi Chuck

Thanks for the quick reply.

The photos are current: the tomato seedlings (first photo above) still seem to be stable, but it’s like they’ve been frozen in time for the last several weeks. They're “leggy” with no additional growth and no second set (first “true” set) of leaves. Do they just need more time? Maybe warmer ambient (especially overnight) temperatures??

As for the pepper seedling, again the (second) photo is pretty current: the seed leaves of most of my sprouted pepper seedlings have started to curl and wilt, and a good half of the pepper seedlings then withered and died.

Advice?

Thanks again.
 
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Hi Chuck

Thanks for the quick reply.

The photos are current: the tomato seedlings (first photo above) still seem to be stable, but it’s like they’ve been frozen in time for the last several weeks. They're “leggy” with no additional growth and no second set (first “true” set) of leaves. Do they just need more time? Maybe warmer ambient (especially overnight) temperatures??

As for the pepper seedling, again the (second) photo is pretty current: the seed leaves of most of my sprouted pepper seedlings have started to curl and wilt, and a good half of the pepper seedlings then withered and died.

Advice?

Thanks again.
Somehow your pics will not come up.
 
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By the way, would the cool ambient temperature on the porch (40s overnight and some days still just in the 50s) explain any of this? In previous years I've planted my seeds a couple of weeks LATER that I did this year, yet at this point (~May 1st) they would have been TALLER and have FULLER leaf growth in prior years. If the temperature COULD explain things, should I have left the heating mat underneath the trays longer? (Everything I've read says to turn off the heating mat as soon as the seeds has sprouted.)
 
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By the way, would the cool ambient temperature on the porch (40s overnight and some days still just in the 50s) explain any of this? In previous years I've planted my seeds a couple of weeks LATER that I did this year, yet at this point (~May 1st) they would have been TALLER and have FULLER leaf growth in prior years. If the temperature COULD explain things, should I have left the heating mat underneath the trays longer? (Everything I've read says to turn off the heating mat as soon as the seeds has sprouted.)
You are talking two different things. The soil temps will affect the time or length of germination of a seed but the time of germination has nothing to with fungus growth. Having said that fungus grows in warmer temps. That is why one must prevent the fungus from growing in the first place.
 

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