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Starting seeds indoors, they're leaning

 
Jesse D Henderson
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Hi folks,
I'm starting quite a lot of seeds indoors - mostly annual Solanacae plants. I'm getting high germination rates. I have them on a table next to an east-facing sliding glass door. Most of the seedlings are leaning toward the glass door at a 60 to 45 degree angle with respect to horizontal. Does this pose any risk to the plants' long term success?

Other information: I'm in Raleigh, NC. The average last frost date is April 10 - 20. It was 87 degrees today. None of my seedlings have true leaves yet.

As an experiment - instead of thinning and throwing out seedlings I potted many of them. Those are sitting outside in a clear plastic bin with no lid. I also transplanted many seedlings to my beds. So if there's no frost I'll have a head start!

But as to my question I'd appreciate advice on how/whether I should modify the regime for the leaning seedlings.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Your Plants are leaning towards the window because they are starving for light.
They are leaning towards the light that gives them life.

If you cannot add some extra light (full spectrum lights are best), you could try putting some aluminum foil behind them to reflect more of that light towards them.

 
Rhys Firth
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+1 with John, they want light, easiest way to correct the lean is to turn the trays/pots 180 degrees so they are leaning away and they with promptly (for plants, read slowly in human terms) straighten up and start leaning back towards the window.


Better would be to make an outdoor insulated enclosure for them. I made my mother a box of 2x2 framing with plywood cladding and lined it walls and floor with 2" thick foam. Then made a lid for that I stapled clear plastic to. it keeps things warm overnight and if it's likely to be a Cold frosty night, a 25W seedling heat pad is more than enough to keep the chill off.

This way they will be outside with full access to the sun.
 
Jesse D Henderson
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Yeah that's what I was thinking. I read elsewhere that leaning plants can cause plant tissue issue.

I bought supplies to build a mini-greenhouse tonight. I'll try to post pictures when it's done.

There's a reason for the "Sol" in Solanacae
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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What they said. Plants grow to the light. At this stage, I just turn the trays around on a regular basis. Let them keep leaning and it can be a long term problem.
 
Brooks Mattox
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I use fluorescent plant lights I get at Wal-Mart. Just make sure you keep them1-2" above your starts as they grow. If not your have the same problem you are having now with the starts stretching for light. I've been using this method for years with great success. Here's some photos of starts I got growing for my summer garden.
 
Rick Doon
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John Polk wrote:
If you cannot add some extra light (full spectrum lights are best), you could try putting some aluminum foil behind them to reflect more of that light towards them.

yeah, here's a piece of an article on reflectivity that shows that aluminum foil would not be the best choice for this.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aluminum Foil:
Aluminum foil is no more than 55% reflective - if used, make sure that the dull side is the one that is used to reflect the light. When it becomes creased its reflectivity is even lower (around 35%.) It is also very dangerous to use because it creates hotspots easily, is electrically conductive, and is a fire hazard when it is in close contact with HID lighting. Attaching this to walls is a pain and usually using aluminum tape or glue is the best way. This should only be used as a last resort, and even then its usefulness is questionable.



....................................................................................................................................................................

...a better choice would be something white, for the inside of a cold frame my favorite is elastomeric white paint.

....................................................................................................................................................................

Elastomeric paint (info by furun)

A rubberized roofing paint with 90% reflection. Good for growboxes. Mildew resistant. Highly reflective.

Kool Seal White Elastomeric Roof Coating ~ $15.00 (1 Gallon)

Ultra high reflectivity
Forms a rubber-like blanket that expands and contracts
Adheres to almost any surface (very good on wood and metal)
Available @ Lowe's Home Improvement: Buy Kitchen Cabinets, Paint, Appliances & Flooring


...............................................................................................................................................................

peace, Rick
 
Jesse D Henderson
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Alright, here's an update. Here are some photos with the leaning plants after I had just begun to rotate them.
LeaningTomatoes.JPG
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leaning tomatoes
LeaningBorage.JPG
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borage was leaning the most severely (right)
 
Jesse D Henderson
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I constructed this greenhouse from PVC pipe and 3.5mil plastic. The top is removable and the front opens like theater curtains. I put some test subjects inside on a cold overnight before going all in with my seedlings.
greenhouse1.JPG
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The greenhouse all closed up
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View from inside the greenhouse
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Greenhouse curtains partially open. Test subjects in place.
 
Jesse D Henderson
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I found this table for free on the side of the road. It's pretty great for this purpose. With the greenhouse on my deck it's just a step from my home, and I can easily set the seed trays on the deck for some hours of full sun and wind exposure. Everything's working great so far and the plants have become more erect.
greenhouse4.JPG
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Table with seedlings inside greenhouse
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Greenhouse with top off.
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Greenhouse top.
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