April 1, 2013
Well, these peppers have been very challenging. I have already discovered a couple of mistakes that I have made, but not before I have lost almost a dozen seedlings.
First, I waited too long to uncover the seed flat, turn off the heating pad, and place it under a grow light. As a result, the seeds that emerged experienced root rot, or "damping off". I didn't realize that I have to do this when the seedlings first emerge. I thought I had to wait for most of them to emerge.
Second, I was watering the plants too much. The problem actually began when I first sowed the seeds, because the planting medium was difficult to water.... the water floated to the top. In the future, I will moisten the medium before I plant seeds, and then I will water from the bottom. The first time I watered from the bottom, I filled the flat 1/2 full of water. This saturated the soil, which is not good! Now, I pour only a little bit of water underneath.
I went to Sixteen Acres Garden Center to purchase a fungicide, because one of my books recommended it; however, I couldn't find anything that is specifically for seedlings. Someone at the garden center said to put the seedlings in a sunny window to let any fungus dry out. I did exactly that when I got home. Thankfully, it was a sunny day, and the little seedlings responded beautifully. They seem to do better in the sunlight than under the grow light.
I was very discouraged at one point and almost threw the whole flat out, but this morning I discovered that many new seedlings have emerged. So, even though some of the seeds germinated in just one week, many of the other seeds required two weeks to emerge. I'll need to remember this when waiting for any seeds to germinate!
The other day, when I was feeling discouraged, I picked up a new packet of pepper seeds and a tray with pellets. I'm not giving up! I am determined to learn how to grow healthy pepper plants!
Still discouraged. The seeds continue to sprout, but the leaves and roots continue to rot. I picked off 3 more seedlings today out of the flat, and saw fungus on one of them. The soil looked dry, so I added a little water, but it turned out to be too much water. I still have roughly 30 seedlings/sprouts. A few look really healthy. I'll be happy if I can get a half dozen healthy plants. We'll see....
I have decided to scrap the whole tray, except for 3 seedlings that seem OK. The rest all show signs of rot. Very depressing. I took the 3 remaining seedlings and stuck them in a jar with some damp paper towels and put them in a sunny windowsill.
I am going to try to plant each seedling in its own pot and see how they do. Not expecting much.