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Max Doty
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I have been gardening for about 4-5 years now but always purchasing plants from the greenhouse. I set out this year to learn to start from seeds. I have a seed starter kit, heat mats and a 3 light spot lamp on a 12 hr timer... I planted Romaine lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale and winter squash. I got sprouts but it seems as though they came up too fast. The roots aren't taking hold good and the sprouts were way too tall... I attempted to replant them but I will be surprised if they survive. What am I doing wrong? too much light? too loose/tight soil? the seed trays seem shallow should I purchase deeper ones? ... any advise would be greatly appreciated... Thanks in advance....
 
Max Doty
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Daniel Clifford
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts
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Hi Max,
Although I have been out of it for awhile I used to have some experience with indoor growing. There is information on this forum that would attempt to have you start seeds outside and entirely forego the indoors, I agree with this but I think everyone must take there own path to get to these conclusions and starting seeds indoors is a great way to learn and observe the plant life cycle.

I will try to help to the best of my ability, my question is what kind of lights are you using and have you checked what spectrum of light they are giving off? Plants need a diverse spectrum of light or else they will not grow properly and you will run into such problems as you are experiencing.

The plants likely think that they are being shaded out by some other plant and are growing as fast as they can to get to better unfiltered light, which of course in this situation they wont find.

Anyhow that is where I would start hopefully this is helpful, and good luck.

*edit* also after checking the pic again, to maximize your current lighting I would build some kind of mini enclosure out of mylar or some other reflective material so that more light gets to the plants and is not lost to the room.

More questions what is the ambient temperature of the room? Where did you get your seeds? What is the substrate/medium you are growing in?

Daniel
 
Max Doty
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Daniel, Thanks for the response. So you think the lighting is the major issue. Thats a good place for me to start as I have never done this before. There is one 60 watt spot in the middle and 2 smaller spots on each side 300 lumens on the small and I believe 400-500 on the middle ( I threw the pack away but it is brighter) do you mean something like aluminum foil in the back and sides? reflective walls? would that work? ...
 
Daniel Clifford
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Yes aluminum foil would work to start for sure but something about it (not sure what) isn't as optimal as mylar or certain kinds of white paint in terms of reflection, definitely could help.

The issue though, which i found out the hard way myself, is that lumens although good for gauging the intensity of the light does not mean it is giving off the right kind of light that the plants need. I tried to find a good picture of this, this one is ok... but it should help, the first pic on this website shows kinds of light, and the spectrums they give off.

http://www.digikey.com/en-US/articles/techzone/2013/oct/what-is-the-color-rendering-index-and-why-is-it-important

This is why in the industry of indoor growing they're are so many different light vendors, for example many people will use one kind of light say fluorescent or metal halide for the vegetative growth of the plant and then switch to a high pressure sodium bulb for the flowering stage because they give off different spectrums of light and the plant utilizes these during such times.

Since you are only doing starts perhaps simple fluorescent tube grow lamp would be more effective I am not sure.

*edit* also with the foil make sure you are giving room for the lights to vent the excess heat, this would be both bad for the plants and dangerous for you.

Daniel
 
Max Doty
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sounds like I've got to hit the drawing board... I'm not one to give up easy so fight on I must.... Thanks for the help... Max

 
Daniel Clifford
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts
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I didn't want to discourage you, the fluorescent lights aren't so expensive, you could probably find three bulbs with the right spectrum to fit into your current setup and then add the foil, the other thing people use is a heating pad to warm the bottom of the tray depending on what the temperature is, you also don't want it too hot.

One thing I would suggest that you maybe look into since you already garden would be cold frames, and if you already compost you can possibly work that into your system too, it's a bit early to get them started but certainly another option for getting an early start on the season.

Definitely keep trying new stuff, there all all kinds of strategies, maybe try a few and see which ones suit your style the best.

At least if the transplanting did shock those seedlings too much you are well ahead of the game this season and you have many options so long as you can get more seeds


Good luck and I hope I was helpful.

Daniel
 
Max Doty
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Dear wife, sorry we're out of foil ... Really it's not my fault... This guy named Daniel from permies made me do it...

 
Daniel Clifford
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Hey at least with the forums you have a scapegoat right

I hope that it helps some, and welcome to the forums Max, I wish you well on your expanding gardening endeavors.

Daniel
 
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