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Old April 11, 2019   #1
Labradors2
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Default Seedlings suddenly dying

This is very weird.

A friend who is an expert, grew a batch of tomato seedlings and they all came up and were fine - until one day they were all dead. Not all of the batches were affected.

Another tomato grower who has load of experience had a similar problem and suspects the potting soil (MG).

A guy from the garden club who has been starting plants from seed for many years, lost all of his petunias after they had been growing well for a month.

Today another friend told me the same story. One batch of her tomato seedlings, all the same variety, died from the top down. She said it was not damping off. I'm pretty sure she uses Pro-mix.

Sorry that this is all second-hand information, but I think we need to discuss this and try to figure out what the common denominator could be.

Linda
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Old April 11, 2019   #2
Worth1
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The common denominator may well be the huge amount of people getting into the so called hobby.
This in turn could mean the manufactures are stepping up the pace and putting out an inferior product.
Just an idea and no way to prove it on my end.
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Old April 11, 2019   #3
KarenO
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I wonder if seed borne disease factors in.
Everyone and their pup has a little website and is selling seeds these days including from some highly seed borne disease prone areas in the American south for example with no germination testing, no quality control or even the barest hint of such niceties as a phytosanitary certificate. The flashy websites give people false confidence that they are dealing with professional seedhouses but often that is not the case, it’s an unregulated, unlicensed, Uninspected under the kitchen table enterprise charging top dollar for what is possibly dubious quality seeds.
Clearly there are excellent smaller experienced seed sellers who have sold quality seeds for years but there are many newer ones in the last couple of years as well and more all the time.
Combine this with a lot of trading with sometimes unknown or inexperienced sources who may also be saving seed from diseased plants ..
I don’t know this is a factor in the circumstances you are speaking of directly but numerous viral and bacterial diseases (including rapidly lethal wilts)can be seed borne.
Reusing old pots support sticks etc without cleaning can also be a source of fungus and pathogens.
Healthy plants don’t just die. I see planting medium blamed a lot, especially one certain brand but perhaps it’s something else.if the opportunity exists for a professional diagnosis of the “ cause of death” that would be very helpful.
KarenO

Last edited by KarenO; April 11, 2019 at 01:05 PM.
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Old April 11, 2019   #4
clkeiper
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I grow commercially but limit my use of fungicides and pesticides to a minimum amount as much as possible. I have had it happen too. I assume I have over watered something or over heated in spots at times. I grow in a greenhouse on a bench and use large heat mats.... I use sterile mix and new inserts for this project. I can't afford to replace their seeds. I am growing for an orchard/farm stand type place this year. everything has been great until I started tomatoes. TOMATOES! of all things. I had two varieties that hardly germinated and two that were pelleted seeds that germinated just fine then practically keeled over. ARRG! I ordered new marriage heirloom and chef choice ones to replace what didn't germinate. I don't know if it was me or the seeds.
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Old April 11, 2019   #5
Fred Hempel
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I worry about this alot.

It is one reason that I limit my seed trading.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
I wonder if seed borne disease factors in.
Everyone and their pup has a little website and is selling seeds these days including from some highly seed borne disease prone areas in the American south for example with no germination testing, no quality control or even the barest hint of such niceties as a phytosanitary certificate. The flashy websites give people false confidence that they are dealing with professional seedhouses but often that is not the case, it’s an unregulated, unlicensed, Uninspected under the kitchen table enterprise charging top dollar for what is possibly dubious quality seeds.
Clearly there are excellent smaller experienced seed sellers who have sold quality seeds for years but there are many newer ones in the last couple of years as well and more all the time.
Combine this with a lot of trading with sometimes unknown or inexperienced sources who may also be saving seed from diseased plants ..
I don’t know this is a factor in the circumstances you are speaking of directly but numerous viral and bacterial diseased can be seed borne.
Reusing old pots support sticks etc without cleaning can also be a source of fungus and pathogens.
Healthy plants don’t just die. I see planting medium blamed a lot, especially one certain brand but perhaps it’s something else.if the opportunity exists for a professional diagnosis of the “ cause of death” that would be very helpful.
KarenO
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Old April 11, 2019   #6
ContainerTed
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Well, I have come to the conclusion that I had a bad bag of MG Seed Starting Mix. The only thing different now is that I have my seedlings in Jiffy Mix and they don't smell like sewage. I don't know of another logical possibility. I haven't done anything different in how I'm doing things. Where I got no germination or dying seedlings, I now have extraordinary germination and no dying seedlings.

My processes have always been to use enough water to get the mix nicely damp. Then I drain anything left in the tray and let it sit overnight to stabilize. Then seeds are sewn the next day and the top medium is kept damp by a spray bottle that will mist the top 1/16 inch of the contents maybe twice a day as needed. This keeps the top layer from making the little seedlings have to push so hard to get to the lights.

Yes, I've used a heat mat for the last 4 years. This is the only problem I've had with plants dying. Yes, I've killed a few each year, but those have died from "mechanical" missteps by me. I'm hanging this one firmly on bad mix products. I see that MG has a new "Organic Golden" series of products. Maybe that has taken their attention away from maintaining quality in its lesser priced products. I haven't seen prices on those new ones, but I can guess.

I think I'll stick with Jiffy plugs. They come to me without any moisture in them and that puts me in control. If I have a problem now, I know that it's my fault. I will not purchase or use any more MG products that have mix or soil in the bag. I like their fertilizer for tomatoes, but the rest of their stuff is no longer on my shopping list.

"Quoth the Muddy Bucket garden bird, NEVERMORE !!!"

I will not trust them again.
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Old April 11, 2019   #7
KarenO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Hempel View Post
I worry about this alot.

It is one reason that I limit my seed trading.
Me too but with trades, you “ takes your chances” I suppose.
I have far higher expectations when I buy seeds.
think one can hedge their bets somewhat by buying from experienced and ethical seed vendors, and avoiding seeds from plants grown in high risk (humid hot disease prone ) areas. Winter is a good thing when it comes to diseases, most of these high risk pathogens are unusual in shorter season areas but I don’t want to import anything into my garden that’s for sure.
Karen

Last edited by KarenO; April 11, 2019 at 05:52 PM.
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Old April 11, 2019   #8
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As good a place as any for this comment.
I work around construction sites.
I get mud and soil all over my truck
The rain washes it off at my house.
What am I bringing home in that soil?
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Old April 11, 2019   #9
PhilaGardener
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So many folks are having problems with commercial potting soils - there seem to be lots of herbicides and other crap coming through that affects sensitive seedlings.
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Old April 12, 2019   #10
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If the plants were growing healthy until some point, it's pretty much excluded that the fault lies with the potting soil.


Some disease, quite possible. Also possible: something was added. Like too much sudden fertilizer, etc, it's a more common problem than one thinks, especially with 'competition' increasing, like seeing great results of people online, one wants to have better and better results.
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Old April 12, 2019   #11
oakley
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It could take a few weeks before a seedlings root system is actively searching soil
for nutrients.
Sowing a dry seed coat, waking the embryo, emergence....barely the beginning of a
root and all food needed is contained in its own little seed cell. A couple weeks,
sometimes three before much interaction with surrounding soil. The soil is just providing the
needed moisture for germination. Why we mist the top for the few days after
sowing.
At the same time the nasty soil is getting nice and oxygenated and steady damp. yum.
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Old April 12, 2019   #12
oakley
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I think all opinions and concerns are valid. Especially from educated seasoned growers.
We trust our years of experience and make mistakes. I know exactly where I have screwed
up. 2017 bad seed starting soil. Did not stink but old soggy stock. A few weeks post sowing it
turned to cement.

I don't purchase willy-nilly seed. I know where every seed came from. Trade is minimal.

An entire tray planted densely, 20-30 varieties, goes down suddenly, it is soil or water quality or
a wash/rinse of a gnat/aphid drench.(?). Did I bottom water too long? Wet feet? Is it air quality now
that the weather has changed and the windows are open? (no wet feet as I let my trays dry out)
Maybe I used a Fert by mistake for my winter grow plants, diluted, but too strong and not necessary for
seedlings. I always first blame myself.

Will I start seeing leaf mold soon like last year? Be pro-active and start a preventative program?
Too soon I may injure the young...
Now that the snow cover is gone and outdoor soil is wet, temps climbing....

I also think a bit about infected seed but would one variety affect the entire tray? So soon after
sowing?
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Old April 12, 2019   #13
hovermother22
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I start my tomato and pepper seeds on a heated seed mat. I was under the impression that they do not need light until they break through the surface and begin to sprout
. I use a plastic 72-cell seed-starting tray. This is my dilemma: Seeds germinate at a different rate. At what point do I put them under the lights? Will I do damage to the seeds that have not broken the surface yet if I put them under the lights so that the seeds that have popped can benefit from light and to avoid legginess in those that have popped?
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Old April 12, 2019   #14
PaulF
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Amazing! After more than twenty years of successful seed starting this is the first year with about one third of my seedlings either not germinating or croaking. My system has been identical for so long I thought there would be no problem. I always do extras so there will be plenty to grow but several varieties I wanted did not survive.

I thought it was the old seed and it was just not viable, but some seeds were more than ten years old and did fine while some two year old seed did not come up. Crazy, this is.

I better re-evaluate the growing medium I use to see if this is a cause. Change one thing at a time to eliminate the variables. This keeps thing interesting.
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Old April 12, 2019   #15
slugworth
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I started all tomato seeds and I swear some of the plants are weeds and not tomato.
They look nothing like a tomato plant.
The sad part is I used different soil mixes so I don't know which to blame.
I curse them again.
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