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Why do my spinach and lettuce seedlings keep dying? — The Grow Network Community
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Why do my spinach and lettuce seedlings keep dying?

mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Vegetables

I keep having this issue with maybe 40% of my seedlings turning yellow and wilting or just wilting suddenly. There are plenty of healthy seedlings out of all the ones I've planted but still.. It's 40% less than what I planted!

See wilty guy in bottom right corner?


  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Here's another (better) photo:

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    More lettuce seedlings 😢

  • AngelaOstonAngelaOston Posts: 186 ✭✭✭

    Soil looks a little dry for seedlings. Except where you just watered them. Are you in a dry climate? Or humid ?

  • shllnzlshllnzl Southwestern UtahPosts: 1,409 ✭✭✭✭

    I would suspect nutrients missing from the soil or maybe your water has too many plant killing chemicals.

  • greyfurballgreyfurball Southeastern PennsylvaniaPosts: 592 ✭✭✭✭

    Yes, your soil does look way too dry for a seedling.

    Seedlings like evenly moist soil and generally they dislike being watered from the top. They prefer being watered from the bottom so the soil can pull up the moisture it needs into the pot. Just make sure you do not let the pot sit in water for too long. After you have the soil evenly moist from the bottom, if the pot has not soaked up the water you gave it within an hour, empty your bottom tray because it does not need any more. Then keep it on an even watering schedule every few days (or more, depends on your climate). After you see the soil drying out, give them bottom a little more water.

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Humid. I'm in the Pacific Northwest.

    While they LOOK dry on the surface, half an inch below the surface, the soil is not.

    I've been trying to not over-water them because that was killing some of my bigger plants. Well - I was killing them lol but same thing!

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Thank you for this info! I actually was just looking at my "happy" looking seedlings and they started in a tasty that wasn't watered from above.

    I didn't know that about lettuce - is that generally true for kale and spinach as well or just lettuce? Ironically enough, almost all of my non-food plants I've been watering from the bottom 🙄

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    I think maybe @greyfurball has a point about not watering from above(because I've also noticed some seedlings have died from the stem breaking... Likely from overhead watering).

    The rest of the plants are doing great with the same soil and water.

    Thank you for your feedback - I always appreciate a more experienced gardener's input.

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Oh and I wanted to show y'all my happy bean plants too:

  • monica197monica197 Posts: 548 ✭✭✭

    Definitely water from the bottom :-)

    Can you direct sow the spinach?

  • dipat2005dipat2005 Posts: 301 ✭✭✭

    @mgray11 I sowed my lettuce and spinach leaves and none of them survived. I should say I used the seed tape method. The lettuce was from one of the seed companies. It may have been several years old. Nothing came up.

  • HassenaHassena Posts: 299 ✭✭✭

    What's your soil medium? Looks like perlite and coconut coir. Are you able to mix in any vermicompost?

    Def water the pots not seedlings. They can break. Water on the leaves may cause fungal problems.

  • silvertipgrizzsilvertipgrizz Posts: 1,629 ✭✭✭✭✭

    definitely water from the bottom. the other thing very important to know about and prevent is 'damping off' which is the first thing I thought of while was reading your intro regarding 'humidity'...

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    I'm limited to containers where I'm living right now, so the only direct sowing I could do would be to put it in a big pot it can grow into(? Is that correct?)

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Some of the seedlings were started in the peat "pellets" - the little discs you add water to that expand into a peat medium. I've also been using a seedling mix that's a sphagnum peat moss perlite.

    I've started a compost, but it's not worm-powered as I've not the time to invest into setting one up for free while helping my daughter begin kindergarten (Lord watch over the parents and children this week 😂). But I HAVE been composting - however it's nowhere near being ready.

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    Will read this article when I've got a break. I was going to ask since you've usually got some innovative/creative ideas for DIY gardening, so I was wondering if you've got any ideas a low/no-cost method for watering them all from the bottom. (Not working right now, so my budget is rather right).

    I was thinking plastic cups or bottles like what yogurt or drinks come in with holes poked in the bottom, put a few rocks in said yogurt cup lid to elevate the"pot" slightly so the water can get in and just water the lid and empty it an hour post-watering like you suggested. Does that sound like a good idea or?

    Thank you for all your help and again, I'll read this article on my lunch ✌

  • CorneliusCornelius Posts: 228 ✭✭✭

    @mgray11 Have to tried putting hydrogen peroxide in the soil before you plant. This can kill of the "wilt" disease which is a fungal or bacterial infection that can suddenly kill seedlings. The hydrogen peroxide kills the infection in the soil first so that way your plants are spared.

  • monica197monica197 Posts: 548 ✭✭✭

    Oh I see. I guess in your case it would mean planting it in the pot you intend to harvest it out of. Would using a grow light placed in close proximity help at all, do you think? @mgray11

  • GroundedGrounded Posts: 154 ✭✭✭

    I have two comments, 1. I live in the midwest and I direct sow lettuces of several types and get 70% growth from most of my seeds and I have had to plant fairly late the last several years. I try to water gently and not directly on the seedlings, but I have not protected them from the rain and/or wind. Spinach and me, or at least spinach and when I plant it do not get along as I believe that spinach likes cooler weather, therefor early spring and fall plantings work better. 2. Non-direct watering seems to be easiest using trays. One larger tray underneath to hold the water and a smaller tray in which you plant the seeds in. The smaller tray has holes in the bottom to allow water up to the plants.

    You can use a single planting tray, similar to starting micro-greens, or those light plastic trays with individualized compartments for starting seeds. Then you transplant them as they outgrow the starter tray.

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2020

    Not sure that more light would help as they get several hours of direct light a day - and I'm unemployed so I'm not sure I could afford a light anyhow.

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    @Grounded Thanks for the ideas on how to water from the bottom. In fact, I still have the starter tray from when i started most of the seeds. Also, I'm going to perhaps wait awhile on replanting spinach until it cools off a little. Do you know if kale is like that too - spring and fall planting work best?

  • scotladyjscotladyj Posts: 11 ✭✭✭

    Thank you everyone! I learned a lot!

  • mgray11mgray11 Seattle, WA 8bPosts: 83 ✭✭✭

    That's why THIS is my favorite social network 💚💚

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