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Only 1 plant germinated in my garden!

 
Posts: 23
Location: Wisconsin
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I forget exactly when I seeded my raised-bed garden, but it was roughly ten days ago. I made sure the garden had 6+ hours of sunlight, set a 2' tall fence around it, and bought some garden-quality dirt for it. I planted Golden Cross Bantam Hybrid sweet corn, Walla Walla onion seeds, Kentucky Wonder green beans (pole variety), and seed potatoes (I forgot what type, probably either Gold Rush or Yukon).

Since that time, I haven't seen a plant large enough to identify other than this green bean sprout. I planted 5, and I assume they would normally all be coming up at the same time.



Other than that, and the two seedlings I got, (a tomato and a bell-pepper plant) the garden only has tiny sprouts, none of which are identifiable, and I assume most are weeds.



I must be doing something wrong, but I'm not sure how to narrow down the possibilities. I didn't fertilize the soil or mix it with anything. I followed the directions on the seed packets in terms of planting depth and spacing. I didn't water it, but only because I knew there was going to be rain the next day.

I have just finished planting a 10'x10' garden, and I'm worried I may not get much from it. Do you have any ideas what went wrong here?
 
pollinator
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I can't speak to the others, but I can tell you my potatoes took longer than that to come up.  I wouldn't be surprised if your other plants do too.  Our weather isn't very warm yet.
 
gardener
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Is it warm enough? That may be a silly question on my part, but unsure of the northern usa growing conditions. Seeds generally sprout when soil temps tell them to sprout.

 
pollinator
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You're gardening. That happens to ALL of us.

I do wonder about watering though. You never watered? Seeds need kept consistently moist to germinate well in my experience.

There is also the possibility the wild birds dug up your seeds. I don't have any rye that survived to germinate but there are really fat birds around my place.
 
pollinator
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With only one seed germinating after 10 days I would look at a few things .....

... Quality of the seed. The seed may have been damaged in some way. The most common reasons are that it got heated up somehow, such as during transit to the store, or by sitting in a hot car or garden shed. Or the seed could be too old or was poorly stored from one season to the next.

... pH of the soil. The seedling photo doesn't show a happy bean seedling. It's rather yellowish. So the first thing I'd check would be soil pH. If that's ok, then I'd run a simple soil test for N-P-K. Then go from there.

... Soil moisture. Seeds prefer a moderately moist soil for germination. Not soaking wet, but not dry. So if your soil dried out during the germination stage, the young seedlings may have died before they even had a chance to form. Depending upon the soil, you may need to lightly water daily, or maybe every other day, or maybe even less often, but the idea is to keep the soil slightly moist.

... Soil temperature. Some seeds require different temperatures for germination. Corn can germinate when the soil is relatively cool, but beans nee  the soil to be at least 60° F. So how are your night temperatures?

By the way, your seed potatoes may take longer than two weeks to erupt. It depends upon whether or not they had developed sprouts already in progress.
 
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Maybe the soil has dried back out if it only rained just after you planted?  Unless we're getting a lot of rain I try to water and keep my seed beds moist until germination, especially with small seeds.

We always very very lightly mulch to retain moisture after planting seeds....just a very loose sprinkle of straw or grass clippings, not covering the soil completely at all...just for a little shade to prevent the seeds from drying out.

But even then temperatures here were cool so late that we had to replant beans three times before they germinated well.  Lots of rain but that didn't help when it just wasn't warm enough for beans to sprout.

I would probably start replanting some things if nothing sprouts in two weeks from when you planted the first time.

 
Phil Patterson
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Location: Wisconsin
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wayne fajkus wrote:Is it warm enough? That may be a silly question on my part, but unsure of the northern usa growing conditions. Seeds generally sprout when soil temps tell them to sprout.


I don't think it's a silly question. I am not sure if it is warm enough yet, but yesterday's low and high temperatures were 54 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. This is a bit cooler than most of the last ten days. A few almost got into the 80s.

 
Phil Patterson
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elle sagenev wrote:You're gardening. That happens to ALL of us.

I do wonder about watering though. You never watered? Seeds need kept consistently moist to germinate well in my experience.

There is also the possibility the wild birds dug up your seeds. I don't have any rye that survived to germinate but there are really fat birds around my place.



I am worried about that too. I left a packet of watermelon seeds outside for a few hours yesterday and came back to find it empty.
 
Phil Patterson
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Su Ba wrote:With only one seed germinating after 10 days I would look at a few things .....

... Quality of the seed. The seed may have been damaged in some way. The most common reasons are that it got heated up somehow, such as during transit to the store, or by sitting in a hot car or garden shed. Or the seed could be too old or was poorly stored from one season to the next.


Firstly, thank you for this very informative post. I don't know if  this tells you anything, but I got all the seeds but the potatoes at half-price from Shopko, which is currently going out of business.


... pH of the soil. The seedling photo doesn't show a happy bean seedling. It's rather yellowish. So the first thing I'd check would be soil pH. If that's ok, then I'd run a simple soil test for N-P-K. Then go from there.



I will look into the soil pH. I have never done that before, and I'm not sure what's involved, but I will look into it. I will also check the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium of the soil, if that's what you mean by NPK.


... Soil moisture. Seeds prefer a moderately moist soil for germination. Not soaking wet, but not dry. So if your soil dried out during the germination stage, the young seedlings may have died before they even had a chance to form. Depending upon the soil, you may need to lightly water daily, or maybe every other day, or maybe even less often, but the idea is to keep the soil slightly moist.



Alright. I can do that.


... Soil temperature. Some seeds require different temperatures for germination. Corn can germinate when the soil is relatively cool, but beans nee  the soil to be at least 60° F. So how are your night temperatures?



They are usually in the upper-forties and lower-fifties of degrees Fahrenheit. There was one day the temperature fell to 43 degrees.


By the way, your seed potatoes may take longer than two weeks to erupt. It depends upon whether or not they had developed sprouts already in progress.



They all had sprouts. Actually, I'm worried that they were too old to be planted. Many had sprouts several inches long. I threw away a couple that looked completely dried out.
 
Phil Patterson
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Location: Wisconsin
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Judith Browning wrote:Maybe the soil has dried back out if it only rained just after you planted?  Unless we're getting a lot of rain I try to water and keep my seed beds moist until germination, especially with small seeds.


It rained on a few days after that. I just kept reading that I should give 1 inch of water a week, and I assumed it was probably raining about enough.


We always very very lightly mulch to retain moisture after planting seeds....just a very loose sprinkle of straw or grass clippings, not covering the soil completely at all...just for a little shade to prevent the seeds from drying out.


That sounds like good advice. I will see if I can do that for my gardens.


But even then temperatures here were cool so late that we had to replant beans three times before they germinated well.  Lots of rain but that didn't help when it just wasn't warm enough for beans to sprout.


Yes, another poster here told me that it requires temperatures of 60+ Fahrenheit, which I haven't been getting at night.


I would probably start replanting some things if nothing sprouts in two weeks from when you planted the first time.


I'll take your advice and do that. Thank you!
 
pollinator
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One thing that has helped me figure out which seeds are weeds vs plants is a seeding square. It's a 1ft by 1ft square board with holes in it, and you put the board on the soil and plant the seeds in the holes. You can make your own. It's a lot easier to tell if the seedlings are supposed to be there when they come up in an orderly grid (or not). Over time you'll also get better at recognizing what the weed seedlings in your garden look like, but until then the square can help.

Have you looked up a planting time guide for where you live? I don't know the Wisconsin conditions either but where I live, I wouldn't be putting potatoes and peppers/tomatoes/corn/beans in the ground at the same time. I did potatoes a few months ago and beans a few weeks ago. Corn will probably be this weekend and that would be on the early side. Putting seeds in soil that's too cold can kill them. I got too eager on my beans a few years ago and planted early and none of them came up. The year after that I waited until the recommended plant date and they were fine, in the same beds.
 
pollinator
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If you can't figure out what it is I'd throw a cover crop of clover on there and see if it sprouts.  You can always cut it back and plant.   It will improve the soil. If you don't have clover you can use a deer mix.

I'm just hoping there isn't herbicide or something in the soil.

I wish you luck.    
 
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I soak seeds. If instructions don't say to soak them I soak for 24 hrs I'd soak peas or bean seeds for 24 hrs. If instructions say soak for 24 hours I soak for 48 hrs. I soak them till they're noticeably swollen. If I am motivated enough I then put them on a wet cloth in a tray with a clear plastic cover somewhere warmish. These two things make seeds germinate for me. If I have soaked seeds for 24 hrs, and plant them in soil that was watered thoroughly 30 mins previously, I don't need to worry about watering them again until they germinate. We don't have winters, or frosts or much rain ever here, so I don't worry about mould or deal with seeds that need overwinting or cold strat.


Try the seed soaking thing and as already noted wait for some warm weather.
 
gardener
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I think we've all had similar experiences. Either water or temperature variations make things take a bit longer. In my case my memory sometimes makes it more complicated (how many days has it been??).
If you've got bird issues you might want to consider putting down netting or something til the plants get bigger.
I imagine everything is just taking a bit longer. Beans are the first to come up, so give it a few more days!
 
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