**See update at bottom of post for a follow up on Spindly Seedlings!
After the dampening off issue I have had in the past with seedlings, my second biggest problem has been weak and spindly seedlings. Do you see the picture above? These are some lettuce seedlings I planted as a sort of experiment. They are sitting on top of my refrigerator right now. See how long and stretchy the stems are? This is a clear case of a lack of light. They don’t have a good light source (no grow lamp, no sunny window) so they are trying to get to the sun – about 10 feet away. Many of them have bent completely over because the leaves are too heavy for the long stems to hold up. Poor plants. Wish I had more sunny windows. We have large trees in our yard that block much of the sunlight.
I have put all the rest of the seedlings in my son’s room this year (now my 9 year old sleeps in the “nursery” – ha!) because that is the most light we get inside our well-shaded home. I know that a grow light would do wonders, but I have yet to do that. I hope they are going to be strong enough when the time comes to take them outdoors. They are definitely stretching toward the window. But they are all starting to get their first true leaves now and that is a good sign. Oh, and I only lost a couple of the transplants and it wasn’t due to shock or root damage. It was because I have clumsy fingers. For both of the plants I killed, I offer my sincerest apologies.
Here is the current picture of the nursery in Muscles’ room.
Here is a picture of some tomatoes – they have gotten their first “true” leaves!
Make sure and give your babies as much light as possible. Usually experts suggest putting the grow light (if you have one) fairly close to the soil and just raising it a little bit at a time as the plants come up. One site I found useful in researching this issue is Sherry’s Greenhouse. Sherry has lots of information on seed starting there. I guess one year I will have to invest in a grow light. Maybe hubby has an old shop light in the garage I can commandeer.
**Update (3/8/15) I have been using a grow light for the last couple of years now and it does, indeed make an enormous difference. This is the grow light I bought and I love it. You must get your plants some light! Check out the difference in the size and quality of the plants I grew last year under the grow lights! If you can’t afford to get a grow light, you can use a shop light. They have them at Costco right now in my area for around $40.00 and they work too. Now, I would still say my plants aren’t as stocky as I want them to be, but they seem to plant out and grow very well. Before I had the grow light, I felt like a tomato growing failure. For reals :). If you still get some leggy tomato starts, you can try the trench planting method that I tried last year for several that I planted very early and had long stems. The tomato plants that I have planted this way have grown very well!
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