Growing from seeds

I have been having little success from starting with seeds. most of my seeds do germinate and get their first 2 leaves. then within a week the seedlings turn yellow and die. what am i doing wrong?
seeds that i have the most problems with are: Alpine Strawberry (Mignonette) Strawberry Sticks (Chenopodium) Tomato Jelly Bean Hybrid Lettuce Grand Rapids Leaf
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-Low air temp and not enough air movement will lead to what's called "damping off" - fungus kills the seedlings. -Indoors, only two ways to give them enough light. First, plant lights. Lots of them. Second, put them in just the right window and rotate them a couple of times a day. Forget that nonsense. Get lights. Think of how each type of seedling grows in its natural environment, and do your best to duplicate that. - Remote possibility: If you're growing seedlings in the basement, they can be adversely affected by natural gas leaks so miniscule that you may not be able to detect them. Or, not leaks, but the little bit that some furnaces waste in the second it takes for the burners to ignite.

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Dear Doug and Kagera
Have to agree with Doug, perhaps this is where I go wrong, each year. Not enough light.
Interesting thought about the gas mini leaks, perhaps the kitchen window is not the best place.
Has anyone had any success with heated germination trays?

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Revisiting the plant light idea (not enough time to write the other day): Although it's nice to have fluorescent tubes that are actually labeled "plant lights", "grow lights", or whatever, they're expensive, and based on my experience, they're unnecessary and expensive.* I use 3 ordinary "shop light" fixtures, one right next to the other. Each fixture has a cool white tube and a "full spectrum" tube, both of which are cheap. These fixtures come with 12" chains, which, depending on where your mounting point is, may not be enough to allow you to adjust the fixtures' height. So, back to the hardware store for more chain. I adjust mine so the bulbs are about 1" above the soil line. When things begin sprouting, I adjust to 2" above the leaves. Depending on the plants, you may have to adjust twice a day. Although I own a hand held light meter, I've never used it to measure light intensity because...what would be the point? I can't get the tubes much closer than 2" without worrying about the heat bothering the plants.
*Grow lights: I suspect that REAL plant lights would be better for plants which are going to live under those lights for long periods of time, but I don't have such plants. The seedlings that are headed outside are only under lights for 4-8 weeks, and 20 years' worth of experience says that for such a short life under bulbs, the type of bulb doesn't matter.
Heated plant trays: I use them for very fine seeds which seem more prone to rotting before they sprout, like wax begonias and impatiens. If I have extra space in the heated trays, I give it to plants for which the outdoor window of opportunity is very short, like lettuces which are happiest in the cooler days of early spring. If I have an indoor germination failure with those, I have to wait until August to plant a fall crop. But for stuff like tomatoes and marigolds, a little bit of a delay doesn't matter much.

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I have built a germination table in my greenhouse using 1/4" tubing and a hot water heater. The table holds 30 flats and does a great job. I just put a thermostat under a flat and hook it up to a circulating pump from the hot water heater (1.5 gallon undersink model). It works great, but it's in a greenhouse, where there's plenty of light available. I recommend bottom heat if you can do it.
lotte potter wrote:

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Greetings from New Zealand.
I have had some success growing marigolds, and carnations from kitchen window, using small trays. I started them about middle of January, and have transplanted them from the trays to pots, and left them outside to grow even further. Now I am having to either get even bigger pots to grow them, or plant them out the back, in the garden amongst some begonias.
I put 5 marigold seedlings in one pot, and now they are root bound.
I find growing from seed is exciting.

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