seed starting problems : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

How long does it take for tomatoes and peppers to sprout? I planted romaine lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers 2 weeks ago. The broccoli is doing great. 1/2 the lettuce sprouted and then died but the other half looks good. Nothing from my tomatoes and peppers. Had this problem last year too. This year I used perlite, vermiculite and peat combo as the potting medium. Do you think I need to replant or just be patient? Thanks, Stace

-- Stacey (, March 18, 2002


Stacey, I would guess that 2 weeks is long enough. If you replant, try covering the seed trays with plastic. This makes a greenhouse effect and holds moisture in the pot. The seeds have to stay damp to sprout. Hope this helps!

-- cowgirlone in OK (, March 18, 2002.

Thanks cowgirl. That's what I was afraid of. Good idea on the plastic. I have them under lights but I think the plastic might help.

Another question, for those of you that water from the bottom up... how much, how often, how do you tell if you're getting the right amount of water? I have been touching the top of the soil and feeling the edge of the paper pots and when they start to dry out then I water. Not enough, too much???

-- Stacey (, March 18, 2002.

water amount sound good, I would look at temperature, both tomatos and peppers will sprout better warmer than the cole crops and of my favorite seed starters comes from the market..some of those hinged clear plastic "to go" food/bakery boxes..Volia!!! instant green house! Another good freebee is the zippered clear plastic case that new sheet sets come in..put you seed tray in and zip it up!

-- Bee White (, March 18, 2002.

Is it warm enough where you have them?

-- Dave (, March 18, 2002.

I'm not sure. The lights don't put off much heat and I've got the thermostat at 73 during the day and 68 at night. During the day when the sun is shining I put them in the window to get more heat. So if it's a heat thing, should I try to get more heat to them now or is it too late? I've got almost 300 to replant so if I can avoid it that would be really nice.

-- Stacey (, March 18, 2002.

broccoli comes up real fast. the tomatoes and peppers should be up. If i Was guessing, i would bet that you have given them too much water and the seeDs rotted. getem Wet, cover em up, anD leave them alone for a week or so.

-- randy in central missouri (, March 18, 2002.

sounds like you have enough heat, Randy is probably right. Tomatoes are usually very easy starters. I've always watered from the top for sprouting, not sure if that makes a difference of not. If you use plasitc cover you won't have to give them much water.

-- Dave (, March 18, 2002.

How deep did you plant the pepper and tomato seeds(?), the main reason for plants not sprouting is that they get planted too deep.

-- BC (, March 18, 2002.

I put the trays that are holding the peat pots on heating pads turned on low. I also cover the peat pots with plastic. I water from the bottom and spray the seedlings with a mild chamomile teas solution which helps prevent "damping off" disease. As the seedlings sprout, I remove the plastic and make certain the lights are very close to them. The temperature is 65 during the day nd 52 at night.

-- Ardie/WI (, March 18, 2002.

Ardie, Will you share your tea solution? I am the QUEEN of dampening off. Lost half my lettuce and 1 tray of broccoli to that already. Thanks, Stace

-- Stacey (, March 18, 2002.

Hello Stacey,

Hope you are finding good methods of getting your seeds to start. My own personal method involves a box with a cover. No lights, just warmth. The tomato seeds were sprouted back in January and are 8 inches tall now. The peppers all sprouted within 5 days. I use the Martha Stewart method where you get the seed sprouting soil (fine stuff with no large stuff) well moist and plant the seeds at the directed depth. The tiny seeds get sprinkled on top of the soil. Read and know all you can.

The box I use gets a heating pad in the bottom. I put a towel on top of that and I use styrofoam food container sections as seed flats. There is enough space for about 6 or so. But they only stay in the dark warmth until they sprout and then they go to as much light as I can give them. Right now, it's the kitchen window. Grow lights would be nice but are not necessary.

I am still inviting everyone to sign up for my free newsletter. I just posted my secrets for getting tomatoes to thrive in extreme Texas heat and drought. Register and get the latest every week. Or send me an email and I'll sign you up.

Thank you all and happy seed sprouting. Nita

-- Nita Holstine (, March 18, 2002.


I think that 2 weeks is more than enough time for your tomatoes and peppers to germinate. One trick I've been using for several years that really improved my success at seed starting is to not cover the seeds. I just press them into the moist potting mix. I read about that in Eliot Coleman's book 'The New Organic Grower'. I learned from that book that the only seeds that need to be covered are those that need darkness to germinate. The vast majority of seeds germinate best if just pressed into the top of the mix.

Before I fill the pots I plant in, I moisten the seed starting mix until it is damp but not soggy. I then fill the pots and plant my seeds. I then do as Cowgirl does and cover them with plastic to hold in the moisture. Remove the plastic after the seeds germinate. Hope this helps.

-- Murray in ME (, March 18, 2002.

DAMPENING OFF REMEDY: If I remember correctly, I steeped about one chamomile tea bag in two cups water for about ten minutes. You don't have to be too careful about the amounts. Of course, you have to let the solution cool off! I put it in a spray bottle and lightly spray the seedlings and the soil around them. Usually, dampening off is due to too much water.

I also put a fan on the plants to move the air. That cuts down on dampening off also. Just a gentle breeze!

-- Ardie/WI (, March 18, 2002.

Most tomatoes and peppers germinate and sprout 12 to 21 days after potting and with optimum conditions. Pateince. I date each sprouting container to track sprout durations. This season, 10% of my tomatoes sprouted in six days, 60% were sprouted after 12 days, 90% after 18 days and the reamaining 10% have started sprouting now after 22 days. My peppers are about 50% sprouted after 11 days. I haven't used any heating or grow lamps, just wormcast.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, March 18, 2002.

If its warm enough for the seeds to germinate, its warm enough for them to grow. My guess is damping off bacteria. Gardens Alive has soil guard which works wonders. Then water with uncle Jerry Bakers seed tonic and you're off and running.

-- Raymond Gray (, March 18, 2002.

a big part of damping-off problems has to do with the lack of air flow. even a shallow "hole" will encourage the bad guys. if you plant so that the soil level of whatever container you use is near or at the rim, and for small seeds - as suggested above - do not plant but let them germinate on the surface, cover thinly with milled sphagnum moss (also helps defeat damping-off). slip container into trash bag until germination occurs then remove the bag. I have had dependably good results using this method.

I'll have to give Ardie's tea a try -

-- B. Lackie - Zone3 (, March 18, 2002.

A little bottom heat helps a lot. First to sprout were those I had (covered w/plastic) on top the hot water heater. I've rushed off an order for a seedling mat. Even though the room temperature is above that where the hot water heater is, it doesn't match the speed of germination.

Just slipping a clear plastic bag over the seedlings keeps enough moisture in to soften the seed coat for sprouting, yet allows a little air in to keep from damping off. Works for me, anyway.

Once sprouted, tomatoes do well at normal room temperature. In fact allowing night temperature to go down helps plants to develop into stockier plants.

-- HV (, March 18, 2002.

Forgot to mention that once sprouted, plants must immediately be given lots of light (I use flourescents) or put into a greenhouse. You probably already know that, anyway.

-- HV (, March 18, 2002.

Stacy, I also put seed trays under a plastic bag or cover, and then put the whole thing on top of the refrigerator to sprout. The refrigerator provides enough bottom heat to get plants started. Covered with plastic, you don't need to water or provide light until the plants have sprouted.

-- Lori (, March 18, 2002.

I too wonder about the possible lack of heat. I bought a new seed starter this year and so far am having good luck with it. Although next year I will try making my own as it is simply a styrofoam container for the plastic flats with a clear plastic top for a heat source it uses a 15watt light buld. gail

-- gail missouri ozarks (, March 18, 2002.

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