Common Seed Fails

About a week ago one of the participants in our seed-starting workshop sent me the picture above. The seedlings are “leggy.”

Seed Fail #1: Leggy Seedlings. Leggy seedlings are honestly just seedlings desperately stretching for more light. Solution: Give them more light, natural or artificial. At this time of year (mid-October) I have my seedlings outside since it’s sunny and in the 70s and 80s in the day time. But since the days are semi-short and the seedlings are on my partially covered patio, I move them around once or twice a day to make sure they get consistent, maximum sunlight.

In case you’re wondering when I experienced leggy seedlings, it was with a type of artificial hydroponic lamp thing from the makers of Miracle Gro that I bought on Amazon Prime Day (so many things wrong there). I bought it because I wanted to grow basil in the winter. I posted the problem of leggy basil growths on Facebook, but my non-gardener friends just laughed and said, “Good luck with your ‘basil.’ Ha ha.” They a) did not understand legginess and b) thought basil was a code word for marijuana.

Seed Fail #2: Damping Off. Damping off occurs when the little stalks of your seedlings get fuzzy with fungi. The fungi will eventually kill the seedling. Solution: To prevent damping off, use seed-starting mix or propagation mix. Propagation mix is sterile, so there’s no fungi or living matter in the soil. I had damping off happen because I started seeds in potting soil. Damping off is also made worse by over-watering. To fix damping off, sprinkle perlite or vermiculite on top of the soil, as it soaks up surface dampness. I learned this tip and it worked on my seedlings, who then grew into big, beautiful, healthy producers.

Have you had leggy seedlings or damping off? What other seed-starting mishaps have you encountered?