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Seedlings off to very slow start  RSS feed

 
Debora Griffin
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I started my first raised bed lasagna garden this year, spent months taking care on the layering making sure I had good soil. After planting the carrots, lettuce and spinach they spouted right off and then that was it! Weeks later they have not grown at all above a sprout and the lettuce is getting a yellow tint. The other box with the squash, cucumbers and zucchini are doing very well so far. I keep it evenly moist and getting good sunlight. I was told it is most likely nitrogen deficient in one box but not sure if thats the problem or what to do if it is. Also, the box with stunted growth is covered with dung cup fungus and none at all in the other. Don't know if that means anything at all but just throwing it all out there. Anybody have any suggestions or answers would be appreciated.
 
Roy Hinkley
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Location: S. Ontario Canada
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I often think the same thing but plants will send up a shoot and then concentrate on roots for a while. They only look stalled from the top.
A pic or two would help the resident experts diagnose any real problems.
 
Debora Griffin
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Thanks for the help. Here are some closeup pics of the seedlings that may be more helpful. After doing some reading perhaps they are not drying out enough in between waterings and staying too moist. But with rain everyday not sure how to control that.
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Pia Jensen
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Debora Griffin wrote:Thanks for the help. Here are some closeup pics of the seedlings that may be more helpful. After doing some reading perhaps they are not drying out enough in between waterings and staying too moist. But with rain everyday not sure how to control that.


what is the seed soil bed made of?
 
Debora Griffin
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I have about 4- 5 inches of organic top soil. I have the same in both beds but the second bed with the squash, cucumbers and beans are doing great! Funny that one bed is full of fungus and the other has none.
 
Pia Jensen
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Debora Griffin wrote:I have about 4- 5 inches of organic top soil. I have the same in both beds but the second bed with the squash, cucumbers and beans are doing great! Funny that one bed is full of fungus and the other has none.
perhaps something - a cat or dog - happened to the one bed? it is curious...
 
Jessica Gorton
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Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Maybe it's an over-abundance of nitrogen? The plants that you mentioned are doing well - squash-family stuff - love a "hot" environment. They can grow happily in an active compost pile. Maybe your other plants are being burned by too much fertility? But that doesn't explain the fungus in the one bed and not the other...
 
Justin Deri
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Location: North Yarmouth, ME
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Pull a seedling and take a look at the roots. That may tell you a lot. Post a picture of the roots.
 
Debora Griffin
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Here is a picture of the roots on the spinach and lettuce. Not sure if and expert eye can see an issue but for my untrained eye, this looks pretty weak for a nearly 4 week old planting. Beginning to wonder if it's the seeds.
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Justin Deri
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Location: North Yarmouth, ME
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I don't think it is the seeds. They seeds probably got you as far as they are now. The little lettuce looks like it has disease, but the roots look decent though not very big. I've had stunted plants when the soil has been too damp and cool. Essentially the biology just isn't active enough to make the various nutrients available. The fact that you have fungus growing makes me think that the soil is too moist too consistently. It is hard to control that in the spring!

Lettuce and spinach you can reseed. I can't explain why the cucurbits are doing better. Maybe as larger seeds, they were planted a bit deeper and their initial roots found nutrients.

I'm sorry I can't be more help. I'd suggest reseeding the lettuce. You could put in something that germinates quickly like a brassica (e.g. radish, brocolli) and see if they continue having problems.

Justin
 
Kevin Swanson
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Your garden bed looks to consist mainly of bark mulch... perhaps thats just the top layer? Even your roots don't seem to have any soil on them, if the roots aren't getting into contact with the soil and are only in bark mulch, then they won't be able to pull enough nutrients from the bark mulch.
 
Pia Jensen
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that all makes sense ... try also with a thin but sturdy stick (pencil size or less, skinny bamboo for example) poking holes in the soil to aerate it, get more oxygen to the root zones.
 
Pia Jensen
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Debora Griffin wrote: I keep it evenly moist and getting good sunlight. .
- do both beds get the same sun exposure?
 
David Creed
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Hi Debora, your top layer looks like it should still be in a compost pile/bin, the fungus is still trying to do its job of breaking down the wood chips etc. I would rake it all off and bag it up to finish cooking and then re layer with multi purpose compost or home made compost, I suspect your other bed has plants with more robust roots which can get down to some decent soil, your lettuce seeds are trying to grow in a battle zone and will never heart up, sorry to sound so harsh its not intended, cheers Dave
 
Debora Griffin
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Great thoughts and advice everyone! Much appreciated.

David I think you and my son are on the same page. He told me he didn't think I let it bake long enough. I didn't get it completed until October and didn't cover it up for some time after that so I don't think it did.

Pia yes they do both get the same sun light pretty much. Great advice on aerating them.

Robert yes it does seem much more woody than I would have liked. Never have used this type of top soil before so like David said it probably didn't bake long enough to break down. I'm thinking of scraping the first few inches of soil and adding a richer soil and reseeding. May be getting too late but desperate measures....

Justin I think you're right. The bed has stayed too moist with little drying out time due to our very rainy weather we've had this year. Hope my tomato plants have roots long enough to reach the good stuff when I move them outdoors this week.

Thanks again!
 
Tim Malacarne
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Location: South central Illinois, USA
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Do you have allowance for my 2 cents?

Like someone said above, the growing medium looks like mulch. I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet though. If your growing medium isn't done breaking down, then that very process will tie up Nitrogen. I would hit a few of them with a good shot of a nitrogen-heavy soluble fertilizer. Some Miracle Grow, unless you're strictly organic. Even so, there's undoubtedly a pure organic method that'll work. We try to use organic methods, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

I hope this will help. My brother says free advice is usually worth what you pay for it.
 
Debora Griffin
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Thanks for your valuable 2 cents! I've planted bush beans through out, which are doing very well, to try and help but that will take time I'm sure. There are just so many recipes out there for organic fertilizer. Any tried and true recipes any of you recommend? I'm also ready to add my tomato plants but want to fertilize them first.
 
David Creed
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Hi Debora, this year I have planted a small comfrey patch in my garden and 3 plants under my apple tree, these are from root cuttings from ebay, I will let these grow on this year without touching them so they can build up their roots for next years harvests, 3 to 4 per season is recommended, this will make comfrey tea to feed my toms etc, I will be out soon for the nettle harvest and make more tea to bulk up leafy greens etc, plenty to see on youtube, cheers Dave
 
Dave Dahlsrud
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Human urine in a 5:1 mixture (water to urine) makes a fine organic fertilizer, an won't cost you a dime. I'd try that out before anything else. I'll bet it will do the trick for you.
 
chip sanft
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Adding composted manure might be another organic method for getting extra nitrogen there to help compensate for what's being tied up in the breakdown of the woodchips.
 
Debora Griffin
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All great advice and much appreciated! David you're right, ton's of good stuff on youtube but finding this forum just as helpful. Comfrey tea would be great to have! Dave my son had mentioned trying the urine method or compost tea so may do that. Chip I added a good composted soil my son was using for his 3 sister's garden. I replaced 2/3's of the top layer and reseeded so we'll see if that helps.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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Dave Dahlsrud - I just wanted to thank you for your pee suggestion on this subject.

We had some tomato seedlings that were languishing in a similar way. They had sprouted fine, but then just sat there with only seed leaves for a couple of weeks, turning a little yellow. They were potted up in a store-bought mix that, I realized after reading this thread, also included a lot of partially decomposed wood. We tried the 1:5 pee solution, and the next day the leaves were greening up. A couple of days later, mature leaves were sprouting. It's now been a couple of weeks, and all seedlings are lush with mature leaves and multiple branchings. I just wish we'd figured this out a few weeks earlier so our tomatoes weren't so far behind.
 
Debora Griffin
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I'm happy to report that after removing topsoil and replacing with richer soil my new seedlings have spouted strong and doing wonderful! Much bigger and stronger than the first go. My tomato plant's need a boost now so will try the pee method and hope for as good results as Roberta's.
 
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