Did I do something wrong to my seedlings?

Hi group, I am new to this gardening thing and it appears I may have done something wrong. Several weeks ago I started some seeds indoors, as I'm in zone 5 and still getting frost at night. All of my seedlings are up but some are getting very long and leggy looking. Some of them are starting to droop and fold-over. Are they supposed to be this way? If not, what did I do wrong? Anything I can do to correct the problem?
The seedlings are brocolli, brussels sprouts and various kinds of lettuce.
Thanks in advance for advice and/or comments.
Brigitte
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Your seedlings are starving for sunlight. Is there any way you can take them outside during the day?
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"Elias Quinn" <.> wrote in message

Hi Elias, Thanks for your quick response. Per your suggestion, I've put them all outside. I'm doing this gardening thing this year with a friend who has been putting her seedlings outdoors during the day, but it seems she's having the same "leggy" problems I'm having. Is there something else we can do to get them to recover? I have 2 seedlings per cell in the peat cells. Would thinning them to one seedling per cell help? We were planning on thinning them when we put them into the ground, so that we could utilize both plants, but if we're sacrificing them for the sake of frugalness, that would be a waste of time and energy, I suppose. Let me know your opinion on this 2 per cell dilemma.
Thanks again, Brigitte

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Brigitte,
Being as you are in Zone 5, you do NOT want to set your seedlings out during the daytime yet. Number one, seedlings need to be slowly acclimated (what is commonly refered to as "hardened off") to the outside environment. This is usually accomplished by setting outside for a small amount of time a day, working your way up to the full day. Number two, our temperatures in Zone 5 are not yet warm enough for seedlings to survive being outside.
The optimum answer for you is to keep your seedlings in the brightest window you have (or directly 1-2" below a flouresent light fixture would be ideal) and turn them at least once a day. If you have a small fan, point it in the direction of the plants so to provide them a slight breeze - this will help harden them against the outside environment.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.
As much as people on this newsgroup always try to be helpful, sometimes they don't notice the zones where people are located and it can make all the difference in the world.
Cheryl
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Absolutely! It's way too early to think about hardening them off. That in itself will put them under stress at this early point.
Two other things to look for......it is sometimes recommended that once the second leaves emerge, pinch off the first leaves that first sprouted on the seedling. Second, look to see if the roots are coming out the sides and bottoms of the peat pods, this would indicate time to pot them.
Lettuce is awesome, in that the more leaves you pick, the more they will grow, however, I'm really only familiar with leaf lettuce. I am also in zone 5, and typically plant lettuce and radishes straight into the garden about the second week of May in an effort to restrain myself from putting too much in before the third week (as tempting as it is!!)
Good Luck Lisa
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clc wrote in message ...

I'm in ZONE 5A, and we have had a string of 70+ days recently, today was 77. I set my seedlings out yesterday for about an hour, and today for about 2 1/2 hours, both days plants were in partial sun (shaded a bit by the slats of a bench). Now we are are headed back down to more normal temps.
I would say outside temps of 68+ would be safe? What do you think clc?

Is that a little close, some fluorescent lights fixture really put off the heat. My fluorescent grow bulbs recommend a setting of 6-12" from the plant tops.
Cheers, Jim
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Brigitte, it sounds as though your seedlings are simply starving for light. They are "leggy" because they are putting their energy into getting closer/more light. If you supply them with more light, then they will stop "reaching". What type of light are you using? You really need some type of HID lighting for indoor growing. But you can get by with flouro's as long as you keep the flouro bulbs within an inch or so of the tops of your plants. As a rule of thumb, I try to supply 50 watts of light per square foot of growing space, ie, if you are trying to grow items indoors in a 2'x4' space, I would use 400watts of light. (8sq.ft * 50w/per = 400w)
If your plants get too leggy, they will fall over when they start growing, or placed outside. In order to strengthen the stems, place an oscillating fan near your plants on a low setting. This will simulate the natural occuring gentle blowing winds outside. After a few weeks, the stems will be nice and strong, ready to take on the great outdoors. good luck, Matt

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Brigitte J. wrote in message

As others have said they need more sun light or a artificial light source. You may also be over watering them, use a spray bottle to mist them as needed.
My broccoli is leggy again this year, as is a one of my tomatoes varieties. Two years ago this happened and I planted the broccoli anyway, it just laid on the ground the first 24 hours looking doomed, but it took off after 2 days in the ground.
After you correct the real problem (light/water), you may want to prop the plants back up that have folded over.
1) Stick 2 tooth-picks in the dirt, in a X pattern, next to the plant to support it upright.
2) Or cut a large soda straw (like from a fast food place) in half, then cut the half up the middle, so you have 4 U-shaped pieces. Insert these pieces next to the plant for support.
I would thin the seeds now, I'm not sure you will be able to separate the plants successfully before planting, better safe than sorry.
You might start a second batch of seeds, use Seed Starter Plant mix and paper Egg cartons for a starter tray. When you transfer the plants to the ground, dig the hole bigger than needed and add some of that left-over plant mix.
Cheers, Jim
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wrote:

The ones that are already all etiolated (the term for lengthening stems trying to find light..not positive I remembered the spelling but it's close ;-) they're not going to shorten and get sturdy stems that make it stand up straight. They may at some point get thicker stems from the new growth. You can try to get the enough light for future growth to thicken and green up, but I'd plant some more, and get some grow lights, or one cool and one warm white tube..but the warm whites are hard to find at times. Get them down there and keep them 2" from the growing point of the plant and they will form sturdy seedlings. Rotate the plants at the ends of the tubes to the center, and the center ones out to the ends of the tubes, because the light is stronger in the middle.
Drop a couple lettuce seeds here and there around the yard, and then a few days to a week later, drop a couple more here and there. Use fresh seed as it seldom retains good viability past the year it's packed for. The broccoli seed lasts longer, but lettuce and parsnips and many other seeds like Orach and can't recall enough others that are papery and don't have a lot of stored food for the seed to last long need to be grown out every year and seed saved, or purchased most every year. Some folks may manage to get some of them to sprout the next year, but not meeee ;-)
I used to start hundreds of sees each year and I would come home from work and put the flats out for a little while, then a little longer and longer, working up to enough time that I could leave them out and plant them. Lettuce I've seen volunteer on the north side of the house, and a grand rapids plant would literally freeze so it was crispy in the morning.. and in the efternoon when I came home .. it was just fine, no sign of being frozen! Wish it worked like that in the fridge when it gets too far back in their and freezes. That thing must have had some natural antifreeze!
So, drop a few seeds here and there, plant some mache.. aka corn salad. Never eaten it but it's supposed to be an earlier green than lettuce.
Happy Gardening!
Janice
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