Seed germination

This spring I tried - as usual - to start the veggies indoors. Not as usual, I had little to no luck with the eggplants, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Only the pole beans sprouted well. Some that sprouted soon died as though from what looked like dampingoff...even though I had placed the containers with soil in the microwave a good ten minutes to sterilize the mix. I never had this problem in prior years. I just didn't know what was going on.
But then I noticed some volunteer tomato seedlings in the ground outside. So when we had an unexpected rainstorm some weeks ago, I captured and kept about three 5 gallon buckets of rain water. I used that on the containers...now moved outdoors...and lo and behold - sprouts.
The conclusion is that the city water has something that the rain water does not. The big difference is that the water company started fluorinating the water last November. Could this have been the difference between last year's success indoors and this year's failure? Anyone out there have similar experiences?
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Chlorine is more likely to be the culprit. The chemical will dissipate over 24-48 hours if you fill up a bucket and just let it sit, uncovered. However, damping off can be minimized by providing some moving air, and higher temperatures. Did you provide any kind of heat under the pots?
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The containers were sitting atop my computer monitor & stereo amp. No chlorine per se used here...rather, chloramine was introduced in Feb 2004. But in 2004 and 2005 seeds germinated with no problem. Fluoride was introduced Nov 2005 and the problems encountered earlier this year.
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In 35+ years of gardening, I've never heard of fluoride affecting plants. There aren't that many other variables:
1) Age & quality of seeds. How old? What brand? How were they stored before planting and for how long? 2) Moisture. I can't tell you how to judge that. It's a matter of experience. 3) Temperature: You seem to have that covered, although it *is* possible to get too hot. Baby bottle temp is about right.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Same here. I am simply amazed at what people blame lack of seed germination on.
--
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)

Gardening for over 40 years
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He would be a very happy person if he'd buy a copy of Nancy Bubel's classic book, "The Seed Starter's Handbook".
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Lawrence, last year I had a terrible time with my seed germinating, and what did germinate damped off. It turned out , in my opinion,that it was the peat cups and peat pelets. It was the first(and last) year I had used them. Another thing is the potting soil. I purchased the best potting soil I could find (I thought) Miracle-grow. Why did mushrooms sprout in all my pots?????(because they used mushroom compost (a bi-product of muhroom production) and did not sterilize it.
On the issue of water, a couple bucks will buy you 2 gals of distilled water, and will be more than enough to get your seedlings going.
The way I sprouted my seed this year is, I have a glassed in entertainment center. I set me a thermometer on one of the vacant shelves, Overnight (with nothing operating) thetemperature remained above 70 degrees. In short I sprouted my seed there with near 100% germination. Okra sprouted in 3 days, tomatoes in 5. The only problem is that as soon as the first start to sprout you have to get them out of there and to a good light source.
Have a good one. SodB!
On Wed, 31 May 2006 22:08:13 GMT, "Lawrence Akutagawa"

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Thanks for the ideas. Much appreciated. Given the content of some of the responses, I guess I did not make clear that the seeds that did not sprout indoors with the 'city' water have indeed sprouted once I moved their containers outside and used stored rain water on them. The newly emerged plants are thriving.
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Try aging the indoor water next time, since it requires no effort whatsoever. If that solves your problem, you win.
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1. heating mat underneath 2. water from underneath, dont mist 3. fan going all the time prevents damping off 4. cool lights literally right over the top 5. milled sphagnum stops damping off

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