I received some questions from a reader who is having trouble with his onion and celery seedlings.
I don’t have detailed information on his situation, but from the information I do have, I can tell that he (like many others who are new to starting seed) does not have a basic understanding of what seedlings need to grow.
If you’ve been reading any length of time, you know that I am not set up to grow seedlings indoors. You also know that I’ve found a way around that.
In order to be successful with your strategy for growing, you have to know the basic needs of plants.
Probably THE Most Important Requirement is Light
After seeds germinate they need light.
If you’re going to grow them indoors you don’t need fancy lights, but you do need at least fluorescent lights (preferably 2) that you can position over the seedlings as close as 1 inch. (And certainly no more than 2 inches away.)
I start onion seed inside. I also start warm weather crops inside.
Strategy for the Onions
Since there is not enough light inside, my only option is to find a way to put them outside after they germinate and give them some protection from the cold.
Two to three days after they germinate, I’ll tape the top of the jug to the bottom to seal it (leave the top cap off for ventilation) and put them out. Usually they stay out 24/7 until it’s time to transplant.
This year after I got the onions up and going, I put them outside in the daytime in their jugs under a makeshift cold frame on all days above freezing. When it was severe at night, I brought them in.
For the past week, they’ve been out 24/7. I left the coldframe over them for extra warmth. I brought them in tonight because temperatures will be in the lower 20s. (They’d still live if I left them out, but I feel like babying them some.)
I’ll transplant to the garden the first week in March. Even though the onions are thick, it will be easy to gently tease the roots apart and plant.
Although it gets below freezing at night in March, but the onions will do just fine.
Strategy for Warm Weather Crops
I’ll start warm weather crops such as tomatoes and peppers and eggplant between mid-March and the end of March.
It might be a wise move for me to wait until the end of March since I have a feeling it will stay a bit too cold for warm weather plants longer than usual this year.
Once they germinate, I’ll tape the jugs and put them outside. If it’s colder than I think it should be, I’ll give them extra warmth with my makeshift cold frame.
If they get too big before the weather warms enough to put them out, I’ll put them in larger pots to hold them until it warms. Usually, I don’t have to do that.
Seedlings Leggy and Weak?
If you have seedlings that are leggy and won’t stand by themselves they’re probably not getting enough light.
Another Main Reason Plants Fail – Soil Too Wet
With seedlings, let the soil dry before you water. If soil (in this case, your grow mix) is saturated continually, it prevents air from getting to the roots.
One of the principles of nature is that plants need oxygen above ground and below. If soil is too wet it prevents the roots from getting the oxygen they need.
Finding a Way to Give Seedlings What they Need Equals Success
Growing seed is easy. If you’re just starting and your seedlings are not doing well, keep these two requirements for growth in mind and then find a way to see that your seedlings get them.
Want to Learn More? – Complete the Experiment
If you feel your seedlings are dying, don’t be too quick to throw them out. Play out the experiment and learn from it. You never know for sure how it will turn out until you play it through.
As with anything you learn, once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake.
Organic gardening is easy, efficient, and effective. And it’s a lot healthier.
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