Experiencing problems with seeds?

Credit: Carolyn Herriot

Are you experiencing problems with seeds?

  • If seeds have not sprouted, they may not be viable. Check the date on the seed package. Do a viability test by sowing ten seeds on a dampened piece of paper towel. Fold it over. Keep it damp. Check a week or so later to see how many seeds have sprouted. Three out of ten indicates only 30% germination. In this case I would recommend buying a fresh packet of seeds. A germination rate of no less than 65% indicates acceptable viability.
  • If there is no germination, the seed may require longer to germinate. Sometimes seeds take from four to six weeks to sprout. Parsley requires 21 days for germination. Check a germination guide before you give up on your pots of seeds.
  • If seeds are taking a long time to germinate, the temperature may be too cold for germination. For heat lovers like peppers, basil and tomatoes, which require temperatures around 75-85°F (25-30°C) for germination, put seed trays on top of bottom heat, or just wait longer until the weather warms up.
  • When seedlings are yellow, it’s an indicator that they are starving due to lack of nutrients in the growing medium. Apply a weekly feed of liquid fish fertilizer or liquid seaweed.
  • If seedlings are spindly and leggy, there’s not enough light for them. Increase the light by moving the pots closer to a bright window or using grow lights. Rotating seedlings daily helps them straighten up, or you can try planting spindly seedlings deeper.
  • If seedlings are growing very slowly, it may be due to overcrowding, or the growing medium may have insufficient nutrients to supply all the seedlings. Try to prevent overcrowding by sowing seeds less thickly. If possible, transplant seedlings into individual pots to relieve this stress, and then apply a foliar feed of liquid fish fertilizer or liquid seaweed.
  • If seedlings collapse at soil level, it is damping off, caused by a soil-borne fungus. Damping off is aggravated by overseeding in warm, moist conditions.
  • If seedlings are being eaten, you’ve got a critter in the area. Check for slugs or sowbugs that love munching on tasty new seedlings. Check between and under the pots and trays, and find the culprit before it dines on all your plants!

Click here to return to the Victory Garden Program.

Use the comment form below to leave Carolyn your questions and feedback.