I would like to start some seeds. The only environment I have to do
this in is my basement. My basement gets very little sunlight, it is
humid and it is drafty.
I do have a growing kit from Burpee which includes a flourescent light
and little plastic containers with their special starter soil on the
I got the stuff from Burpee last year but then I was too late to start
anything. Now I am on time for seed starting.
Will these enhancements be able to mitigate the lack of available
sunlight or should I not bother trying to do this?
Once the seedlings emerge, expose them to artificial light. You can buy
inexpensive 'shop lights', and use flourecent grow lights on a timer to
outdoor conditions. Keep the lights as close to the plants as possible for
GA Pinhead wrote:
I put one of two plant trays on top of my deep freeze. The top stays warm
and helps germinate the plants. When they start coming up, we leave the
light on 12 hours a day to help the plants. I still have to move them out
on warm days or they will get leggy. Maybe you could also do it on top of
the fridge, or possibly on the floor in front of a door or large window on
the south side of the house, where it will get natural sunshine. I don't
know how your house is set up, but maybe you could come up with something
Well, let's take this step by step.
What seeds were you planning on planting, what's your area's
plant out date, and what are the temperatures in your basement?
The fluorescent light provided with the kit will probably provide
enough light for the trays that come with it, but you can tape
aluminum foil around the edges to reflect more light back onto
the plants to increase the intensity. This would also block some
of the drafts you mentioned.
Most seeds of edible plants require some heat to germinate, some
require a lot more than others. Greens like lettuce or cabbage
don't take as much heat as say, peppers or tomatoes, to
germinate. Most will germinate faster with some heat, though.
Some plants won't do well without some heat after germination,
either. Folks here have mentioned putting the seed trays on warm
appliances or heated seed starting mats until they germinate,
both of which work well. I've used a regular heating pad, too,
but watch out if you have a cat! I couldn't understand why one
tray of seeds wouldn't germinate, and then I caught the cat
napping on the warmed peat strips. Our compromise was that I
ceded her one of my seed warming mats, and she stayed off the
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < email@example.com>
On this same topic: we have no trouble _starting_ seeds. But, after
we transplant them, some/all the plants develop a 'skinny neck'
condition where the stalk enters the ground.
The brocolli has been particularly bad. We used 2" round peat pots.
Planted in some 'starter mix', in a tray with a clear cover, watered
from the bottom. 2 shop light about 8" above the trays. After
germination, we removed the cover. Transplanted after ~6 wks. We
removed them from the peat pots when we transplanted them.
The brocolli grew a reasonable-looking stalk, except that it got very
scrawny near the ground - it couldn't support the plant.
And then a woodchuck ate them all.
If anyone has any thoughts about the scrawny neck, I'd appreciate
I appreciate the good laugh, George. Sounds like the scrawny necks were not
the worst of your troubles.
Some gardeners describe what you call 'scrawny necks' as LEGGY seedlings.
They take their seedlings out into the sun for several hours per day for
some period of time to 'harden' them. Going straight from the indoor
seedling trays to the garden bed is what is dooming your plants, aside from
It could also be what is referred to as "dampening off". I don't know what
causes it, maybe too much watering and the soil too wet, too long. Where
are you located? When I lived in Arkansas, I started them in the garage on
a shelf in the sun from the windows. When they came up, I would carry them
outside and place them in full sun during the day and take them back in each
night. It removed all the usual problems of being leggy and dampening off,
and at the same time got them ready to be transplanted without having to be
"hardened" by putting them out for one to two hours a day in the beginning.
Now I live in Kansas and do the same as much as possible, weather
the skinny neck, or leggy seedlings is caused by lack of light, or the light
source being to far away from the plant. the plant will grow long to try to
find more light. so supply more light, or move it closer to the seedlings.
damping off is caused by a fungus, there are things you can get to combat
it. Chestnut Compound being one of them. when your seedlings first
germinate, water them with Chestnut Compound or some other fungicide as per
the insrtuctions on the tin. this will prevent damping off. hope this helps
Richard M. Watkin.
Seedling stem collapse at the soil line is a common symptom of "Damping
Off". Our Cooperative Extension has a Pub on symptoms, causes,
Thanks to all. We did harden off; or at least, we carried them out
during the day for 'a while' (I didn't write down how long).
They were (somewhat) leggy - at least, gangly-looking - before that.
Our starters tend that way. Could this be because our lighting isn't
bright enough? Other than that, they didn't look distorted when we
And, we might over-water them.
We're zone 5-ish (Syracuse NY).
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