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Seed starting - how can I grow a stronger plant? — The Grow Network Community
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Seed starting - how can I grow a stronger plant?

OhiohillsLouiseOhiohillsLouise Posts: 121 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Vegetables

I start my own seed in the spring and l’m usually successful but it seems my stocks are usually kind of spindly. I buy seed starter mix, transplant to a larger container early, and use a grow light. Any suggestions?


  • JensJens Posts: 462 ✭✭✭

    My experience is that you need a lot of light but only at the beginning for sprouting heat.

    The warmer the seedlings are kept the more light they need. Professional tomato or pepper seedlings are kept quite cold ones they are germinated to produce a sturdy plant and need less light.

  • chimboodle04chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    If you have a fan blow on them just slightly (just so they move) then your plants will develop good strong stems.

  • OhiohillsLouiseOhiohillsLouise Posts: 121 ✭✭✭

    @Jens I keep my plants in my living room where it is warm, so maybe I need to move them to my cool basement, they are under grow lights so no window is needed. Thanks for that bit of knowledge that I’ve never heard before.

    @chimboodle04 thank you I will dig out the fan and try that too.

  • EarlKellyEarlKelly Penn state master gardener Northeastern Pennsylvania zone 5bPosts: 230 ✭✭✭

    @Louise how far away is your grow light? I would try moving that closer too. Sounds like that is what they are reaching for. I would try about an inch from the seedlings. Then as they improve you can move it a little farther away. Good luck and stay safe.

  • MelindaMelinda Greater Atlanta AreaPosts: 124 ✭✭✭

    If you have them in a greenhouse, make sure to open a window for a few hours each day. I learned that from Monty Don and it works.

  • OhiohillsLouiseOhiohillsLouise Posts: 121 ✭✭✭

    @EarlKelly I should have been more clear in my description, not so much too tall but more skinny, I keep the grow light close but my plant stems seem more skinny than the store bought varieties. Thanks for adding that information I am sure some of the readers will benefit from it.

  • Obiora EObiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Louise Ideally you plant your seeds in the snow or directly in the ground. If you grow them outside of a greenhouse or hoophouse indoors, then they will be spindly as they are not getting direct sunlight. I stopped starting seeds indoors back in 2003 or 2004 exactly because of this issue.

  • Melissa SwartzMelissa Swartz Posts: 240 ✭✭✭

    I've had the same spindly stalk problem. chimboodle04 the fan idea is great. I'll be trying that.

  • MissPatriciaMissPatricia Posts: 108 ✭✭✭

    I am starting my seeds indoors. One of my big problems is transplanting them soon enough. This year I was waiting for someone to install my cattle panels as arches. When I felt how heavy and rigid they are, I did not think my husband and I could do it. They are now up. I lost some of my transplants, but right now I have just started tomato and pepper plants. I do know that the light has to be right or they will be spindly. I bought a potting soil which seems to give better results. I have always started my seeds outdoors until last year, but then I would not get tomatoes or peppers until August, for example.

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 633 ✭✭✭✭

    Except for hot peppers, I start everything outside, even tomatoes. There are ways to get a head start outside. I usually start them the wintersowing method- it's a bit too fiddly for some people but it works for me. Basically, you make a mini-greenhouse out of milk jugs, disposable salad containers, etc. Make lots of holes in the container, fill with soil, soak the soil and let drain a few minutes, plant the seeds, put them outside and leave until spring. Almost anything that reseeds in your garden and transplants well is a good candidate for this. It is slower than starting inside, but faster than waiting to plant until its warm enough outside. Seeds started this way are usually very sturdy, and are already hardened-off. Most perennials and hardier herbs I would start in Jan- March, tomatoes I wait until April. If containers are in the sun and it gets in the 50's or higher, take off the lids.

    I used to start tomatoes inside, but I have limited window space, and my spring-sowed tomatoes started slower but were much sturdier. Once in the garden, the outdoor-started tomatoes caught up quickly with the indoor-started tomatoes. It's just so much easier to get enough sun outside.

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