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Seeds in a propogator - dying :-(


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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: Seeds in a propogator - dying :-( Reply with quote

I have a heated propagator, and have tried two sets of test seeds to see how it works.

Both have been fine to start. I plant in seeding compost, water a little every second day usually, have the heating part of the propagator on 24/7 and generally in a week or two they popup and I get all excited and continue to give them lots of care and love and generally buzz about them like a dotting father....and then, just in the cradle of their life they die.

I thought the first time it was missing a days watering, but the second set have done the same. They are from about (varying) 3 to 10 cm high when it happens, and they just seem to shrivel up and die. I am planing in seed trays, wipe off excess water/condensation daily, water when dry but not drowning...

Any idea what I could be doing wrong?

I'm doing a number of test runs now so I can have it perfected (at this stage that may be a bit steep a hope) before I start 'real' planting early in the new year to plant out in my polytunnel to get an early crop. So, while I don't mind loosing these ones, it would be great to know what I am doing wrong.

Thanks in advance!
A
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AJ
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

what springs to mind are the following:

are they getting enough light
is everything clean, sterile
is the temp correct.
are they being left in the propogator too long, maybe they need to be moved out sooner to a bench.
have u tried mixing the water with copper funchide something or other, someone on here will know what its called.

by the way, what are u trying to grow.

hope this is of help, i'm no expert as the next poster will probably prove Laughing

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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks AJ! Lots to go by there.

They are getting as much light as can be expected this time of year.
Everything is clean (sterile to start, and wipe all surfaces every second day with a clean cloth to try to avoid fungus type problems.

I think you may be on the ball with the times to move out. How long should seedlings be left in a propagator? Is it just till they break soil, or weeks/months more? I guess it is the difference in temp between an indoor heated propagator and outdoor polytunnel (even with double cover - polytunnel and outdoor propagator cover) that has me freaked of moving them....
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AJ
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there Galwaybeginner'

I grow annuals from seed and have had great success. What I find in relation to temp is that nighttime temp is fine but during the day with any bit of sunshine, this can double the set heat temp in the propogator and I tend to vent it well during daylight hours to eliminate this problem. For flower seeds I normally move them out of the propogator when the second set of leaves appear and let them grow on at a lesser temp. I appreciate your possible predicament in that the temp in the polytunnel may not be enough for them to grow on. Maybe you can make an area that could be insulated with bubble wrap and turned into a warm area, maybe using a small heater to keep the temp right. For germination the temps seem to be between 15 and 25 degrees depending on what flower it is, for growing on, around 10 degrees seems to work for me.

But u still haven't told me what u'r growing Wink

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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL, ahh sure that'd be telling AJ!

Mix of seeds at the moment, so carrots, onions, grass, oops no not grass!, cauliflower, spring onions...and a mix of different herbs but they all seem to have survived ok. More hardy maybe.

Interesting on the ventilation. I'll give that a try with the next set.

Thanks again!
A
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AJ
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interestlingly enough, I remember asking for advice on a forum, on growing lights a couple of years ago and they thought I was growing the bit of the wacky backy. Did a small bit of veg this year, worked out ok, but have a new garden now so starting from scratch.
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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as you do not say what type of seeds you are sowing it is a difficult question. Propagating in the Spring with lengthening daylight is very different to propagating in Winter with very short days. Assuming that your compost is disease and pest free you may be watering too much. The temperature may be too high for the light available. is there feed in the compost?
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)
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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 25, 2009 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Michael, sorry for the vagueness, but I have used about 12 different seed types, and plant varieties and all except the herbs gave same results so figured it was merthod rather than seed type.

I don't think there was any feed in the compost but will check.
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ormondsview
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: often termed damping off Reply with quote

See here for more on the term http://en.mimi.hu/gardening/damping_off.html

more light, less water, more air circulation, probably too much humidity. I'd prop up a corner of the greenhouse area and let air pass and steam out occasionally. That's why greenhouses need to have air fans in them sometimes. Should never be air tight.
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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the link. That sounds exactly the problem.

I'm going to clear the current disatrious set out over the weekend and try a new set with less water and without the heat during the day.

Thanks again everyone for all the pointers.
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AJ
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi galwaybeginner,

I'd be more inclined to try and keep an even temp as opposed to turning it on and off particularty during germination. Simple enough to do, stick a thermomother into the compost and leave it there, adjust it if you have a facility to do so on your propogator morning and evening to try and keep it even.

Also if you get a bottle of copper liquid fingicide, dilute as directed and wet your compost before sowing with this as opposed to just water, this should help.

I also agree with ormondsview in that ventilation is key. What I normally do is close the vents at night then in the morning wipe away any condensation and leave the vents open during the day.

The other thing I do is to water from the bottom with water that is at the same temp as the propogator is set at again as opposed to cold water.

Had to giggle a bit at your dotting father comments, I'm exactly like that myself, but you should know the best flowers I ever grew from seed where one's that didn't get the best care, in fact you could say I neglected them from day 1. So sometimes it pays to stand back a little, not that I do anyway Laughing

Best of luck

Keep us updated

PS would love to see some pictures as you progress with your next experiment

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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again AJ. Lots of info there, and I really appreciate you taking the time to pass it on.

Sadly my propagator is bottom of the line so no temp control, just on or off. But out of curiosity, is there a common temp for all seeds? I ask as I have a variety of different ones in each batch.

Excuse my newbie gardener ignorance, but what is "copper liquid fingicide" and where can I get it? Is it a gardening solution or something from a pharmacy...! Laughing

You're spot on with the lack of care sometimes doing the job. I was down in the polytunnel watering my garlic yesterday and noticed some life where I didnt expect it:
One of my first batches of seeds had died as discussed, and I had decided, just on the off chance, to deposit the remains on a clear spot in the tunnel. And would you believe there are a load of sprouting seedlings now (when I say a load I mena maybe eight, but not bad). Only problem now is I don't know what's what!

I'll start trial 4 at the weekend and keep a photographic record.

Thanks again for the advice.

A
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AJ
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there,

Ok so u can't adjust the heat, why not try taking the lid off during the day and leaving it plugged in.

If you look on the T&M seed site I think they give growing instructions for each variety, so you may be able to get the germination temps required from there or other similar seed selling sites.

Are you seed saving or where do u get u'r seeds Question

Just had a flick thru my veg seed packets and most were for outdoor sowing but I would normally sow them in cells in a cold greenhouse and plant them out, a couple alright need between 15 and 25 degrees. Normally I sow seeds that require up to 15 degrees in a heated greenhouse in cells on the bench, anything above that I stick in the propogator.

I have found that sowing in a propogator at a higher temp than required does in most cases produce seedlings quicker. But I am beginning to wonder are u using too much heat after the seedlings break the surface and this may be the cause of your problems. Maybe you should try a tray in the propogator and a tray on a warmish window sill, maybe stick a tray in the tunnel as well to see which works best.

You can buy copper liquid fungicide or an equivalent product in any good gardening centre or possibly a farmers coop shop. It just helps preventing damping off. Cheshunt compound is another product that does the same thing. You simply add a small amount of it to a litre of water and use it as your watering medium.

Know the feeling well about wondering, well what actually is this seedling, forgot to write a tag Laughing

Interesting though that the seedlings withered in the heat but grew in the cold tunnel, too much heat is looking like the cause.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PS, for the ones in the propogator don't forget to prick them out when the second set of leaves appear and pot them up singly, leave them in a warm place to grow on. Wink
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galwaybeginner
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again AJ. Greatly appreciated.

Sadly not getting to the pricking out stage, but hopefully this next set...fingers crossed.
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