Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gardening Question

Anybody got an idea what's going on with my broccoli seedlings?

They've all grown about an inch high, but now about five of them have suddenly keeled over.  Upon examination, the little stems seem to have withered right at the soil (actually organic starter mix) line or slightly above.

I've never had this happen before.  The seedlings are in starter trays, under full-spectrum lights, on a heat mat, and have had adequate moisture.

Have any of you gardeners had this happen to any of your seedlings?  And do you know what's caused it?

Thanks for any help or suggestions you may have.

22 comments:

Rain said...

I'm interested in hearing what people have to say too! I'm not doing broccoli this year, but I'm sure this could happen to other seeds.

Saundra said...

Mama Pea, It's called"damping off." I bet you can find a solution on the Web. I know it is caused by a mold that is in the top part of the soil. Sandy

DFW said...

No broccoli here at this time of the year but I noticed a couple of bean plants & 1 zucchini did the same thing. Look forward to seeing if you get any suggestions.

Sue said...

I have it. My neighbor is having that problem this year too. I thought damping off when I thought it was just me, but seems EVERYONE I know is having that problem.
What???????
It reminds me of that weird year that no one had green beans turn out. Very Strange!

Kristina said...

I had mold starting on my trays, but after transplanting to larger peat pots, they seem to be doing okay. However, my lavender looks iffy. I hope to have time to transplant them today.

Mama Pea said...

Rain - Now I'm thinking it just started in my broccoli and will spread to everything else! Yikes! I am not happy.

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - I was afraid that was what it was . . . but was hoping not. Brewed a big jug of chamomile tea last night which is supposed to kill the fungus causing damping off when sprayed on the seedlings. Fingers crossed.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - This is not looking good. See Sue's comment below. :o(

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Why do I think conspiracy of the "powers that be" trying to gain control of the seed companies?

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I'm going to be re-potting today, too. Also spraying with chamomile tea. Sure hope I can get this under control.

Rain said...

I read Sandy's diagnosis below....I looked it up and I read the same thing about chamomile tea or clove tea apparently works too. I hope your transplanting and tea remedy works!!!
PS: I've also read that sprinkling cinnamon on the soil is good for that...but these are all home remedies, we can only hope they're effective.

Laurie said...

So far, I haven't experienced this. Hate to hear you're having this problem, but I'm happy to read about chamomile tea. I'll store that bit of info into my brain. Hope the tea works! Let's us know the progress.

Kay Saylor said...

I have had this problem in the past. I stop watering from above once the seedlings appear and only water from the bottom in trays until transplanting out. May be coincidence, but seems to help.

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - I will keep you informed of how things go. I got many of my seedlings transferred to new soil, new pots today but I lost all my broccoli seedlings. :o(

Mama Pea said...

Kay Saylor - I'm going to take your tip about watering only from the bottom . . . except for the seedlings I transplanted to new soil and new pots today. I'm spraying those seedlings with the chamomile tea hoping that will strengthen the plants . . . ? Thanks for the tip though.

Sue O said...

Another thing that has worked for me is once the seedlings have sprouted and about an inch tall I let the top of the soil dry up a bit then water from the bottom. I let the soil on top get damp then make sure to drain any water left in the tray/pot. check again about an hour later as the soil will take up more than it needs but will drain back once no longer sitting in water. Sometimes I have to re-drain the tray more than once. Got these tips from a friend who raises hundreds of plants for resale and it seems to work well. I also make sure that my soil and pots are sterile by washing previously used pots in a mild bleach solution, rinse well then dry and any leftover starter mix gets baked in the oven at 300* for half an hour.

Mama Pea said...

Sue O - Some very good, succinct advice which I'll put into practice. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting...I also had the exact same thing happen with my broccoli and B Sprout seedlings this year. My seedlings damped off in spite of all my precautions such as sterilizing pots and tools. The one thing that I did do differently this year and, I believe, caused my damping off was to try a new soil medium. I bought a bag of so-called seed start medium at a local hardware store only to find that it was absolutely horrible. Not only did I experience damping off but I also produced a good crop of oxygen robbing algae on top of the soil. I dumped the plants and started all over. This time I pulled out my trusted, 10 year old bag of a finely milled peat/vermiculite product. I was nervous to use it because of its age and the fact that the bale busted open during storage. I replanted and, hurray, no damping off and no algae! When I think about it, the good result makes sense because peat's acidity naturally staves off many nasties found in soil.(Consider those well preserved Bog Men discovered in European peat pits!) The seedling start brand that I prefer utilizes Canadian peat that is sustainably harvested. For what it's worth, I like peat over coir because coir can sometimes have an elevated salt content. However, coir would be my strong second choice for starting seeds. I would just transplant the plants sooner before any potential salt damage starts, if any. -M

Mama Pea said...

M - You've obviously done your research and should be on top of the "damping off" problem now! I was taken by surprise because although I've heard of it, I've never experienced it. Until this year. I'm kinda suspecting the seed starting medium I purchased this year. I'd never used it before. Oh well, we live and learn. Like you, I've started more broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Sigh. All part of the learning curve and gardening. :o)

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Sorry, I can't help. I hope you're able to figure it out.
Good luck!
Hugs,
Sandy

FairviewFarm said...

In addition to sterilized pots and good quality seed starter mix, I cover the seeds with a thin layer of finely crushed vermiculite. When the seedlings have their first set of true leaves I like to set up a small fan to blow over them on low speed. Circulation helps in keeping the top of the growing medium just a bit dry and growing up against the moving air helps strengthen stems. The seedlings will need to be turned so that they grow straight rather than bent over from being hit from the same side all the time. Hope this helps.

Mama Pea said...

Fairview Farm - I am careful to "reposition" my trays of seedlings regularly so they're at different angles under the growing lights. You bring up a good point about good circulation and ventilation and I think that may be something I need to improve on. My seed starting rack is in an area where it doesn't get much of any "through" ventilation so I can definitely see where that could be a problem. As I've said, I haven't had trouble before in starting my seedlings, but . . . there's a first time for everything! Thanks for your input.