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What is it with spindly seedlings all the time?  RSS feed

 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Hi, these are my seedlings. They are beets and radishes, so kind of sturdy and not the best example of what I'm talking about, and granted, they are tilted because they stretch towards the sun, but why is it that whatever I sow grows so tall and spindly? It doesn't seem natural. It feels like I plant them too much on the surface. I think they say the depth should be 3 times the thickness of the seed, which in many cases it's ridiculous, so I put them well down into a little hole in every cup of the seedtray, and still they come up all week looking. Especially delicate stuff, like coriander, lettuce...

Any insight?
Thanks.

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Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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SergioSantoro wrote:
....they are tilted because they stretch towards the sun.....


Hi Sergio,

You said it yourself right there. They are stretching towards the sun because there are not receiving enough sun. The lack of adequate light is causing them to be spindly to help them try to reach more light. If they were growing straight up but still very spindly I would suggest to much in the way of nutrients but stretching towards the light is a dead give away.

I would not change anything you are doing germination wise as you seem to be getting a good rate of germination based on the picture of the flat of radishes.

Good Luck,

Jeff
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Thanks, I'll keep that in mind and see if it's the case. Meanwhile a few more things to consider:

Here in Costa Rica we are in the very climax of the rainy season (as mild as it's being this year).
The reason why I have my trays under my cabin's porch is that this way they don't get destroyed by the rain when it's torrential. I had one tray that was under the drip line of the roof and the following morning it was half empty with the seeds gone who knows where. I realize that the water falling from a corrugated roof is more intense as it hits always the same spot, still the rain is intense here, and when it's not raining it's REALLY sunny and scorching.
There is this video about a guy having a living seedbank in Vancouver Island and he said that he has to hang his garlic in the shade to dry now, because, unlike 20 years ago, in full sun it will just get burned. Imagine here! Everything that in North America thrives in or needs full sun, we learned that it does much better in partial shade here.
So, I don't know. I guess I'm just too lazy and absent-minded to have any success with seedlings that are not just outside my door. I usually forget to water them and those things dry up so fast.
Anyway, I garden by the moon and tomorrow is a planting day for flowers and leafy, above-ground stuff. I'll leave tomorrow's trays in full sun and let's see.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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you should be direct sowing radish and beet. they are root crops and do not transplant well.
 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
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Strong light breaks down auxin (plant growth hormone).  This means that the side of the plant that gets the most sun grows slightly slower than the other side.  The side with less light ends up 'pushing towards the sun' ... except if all sides do not get enough light, the whole plant is elongated.
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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I raise my seedlings under a tree which gives light shade all day.  They don't like full sun or exposure to the elements, but do like a moderate level of light throughout most or all of the day.  I had this same problem when raising my seedlings in a place that only got diffuse light during the morning, and no light in the afternoon.
 
Loren Luyendyk
Posts: 12
Location: Santa Barbara. Ca
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maybe try to build a little shade house out of shade fabric (or window screen) that is low over the seedling trays.  this will protect them from both the scorching sun and the driving rain.  if the cloth is too high the drips will be too heavy and will wash away your seeds again.  with the shade cloth you can place the seedlings in the full sun so they get even exposure, and that will make them grow a little better.  also the clouds may have had an effect on the seedlings in your picture, not enough light due to the rains.  and yes, better to direct seed roots crops (on the waning moon), and cover with mulch or row cover to keep the rain from washing them away.
buena suerte
 
                              
Posts: 71
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Or build a frame with glass on the top. That will keep the rain off and keep the moisture in so you won't have to water as much.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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Thank you all, I'll keep all the advice into account, and yes, I always direct seed root crops. I guess I just did it this last time because the moon was right, but my H├╝gelkultur wasn't ready, so I thought I'd get a headstart.
My question was for all the other seedlings.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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While I agree with the light diagnosis, I also find that seedlings become more stout if they have some wind to push them around.
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
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Radishes, and cilantro are sown directly. You never transplant root crops. And I sow lettuce directly too only thin as I go and eat the thinnings. Same for Chinese cabbages and other crops.
I sow some stuff indoors because of the climate and often I do that in paper pots.
I wouldn't sow tomatoes direct though as you never know if it's a weed tomato which comes up.
 
Marissa Little
Posts: 63
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Isn't Paul always saying something along the lines of never say never?

Beet transplants are indeed a feasible way to grow this crop.  Just do a little google search.  You have to be careful, but I have a book that actually says they end up better off.  I tried it last year and saw no difference.  But that also means that my transplanted beets did just fine.
 
Sergio Santoro
Posts: 256
Location: Nicoya, Costa Rica
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What's a weed tomato??
 
Hugh Hawk
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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They taste better than regular tomatoes because you didn't have to plant them
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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