Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

May 3, 2010

Sad Struggle for Seedling Survival!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Karma @ 6:16 pm
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I’ve been gardening for a long time.  I have memories of my mother’s vegetable gardens from childhood.  I remember liking to help in the garden, even if my form of “help” was picking and eating the ripe cherry tomatoes, right off the vine.  Since I’ve had a home of my own, I’ve had a garden.  I’ve worked over the years to have flowers blooming for most of the warm months, and for me, summer just isn’t right without a ripe tomato, fresh from my own garden.  For many years, I followed my mother’s tradition of starting my own seeds inside the house around mid-March in order to have healthy seedlings ready to plant outside come Memorial Day.  Then, for a while, I had to give up starting my own; a cat was part of our lives who insisted on having a daily snack of my seedlings no matter how often I shooed him away.  That kitty is no longer with us, so this year, at dear hubby’s urging, I am attempting my own seedlings once more.  Sadly, so far, they aren’t looking so great.

This is my little homemade set-up:

The seedlings sit in a north-facing window, due to a lack of space near any south-facing window.  In order to supplement the north light, hubby rigged a fluorescent light to hang directly above the seedlings.  In the past, this style set-up worked just fine and dandy.  It allows me to adjust the level of the light as the seedlings grow taller.  So back on March 15th, I planted 3 varieties of tomato seeds and 2 varieties of hot peppers. (That was the real reason hubby wanted me to start seeds so badly.  He wanted a special variety of jalepeno peppers that he has only seen in seed form: “Biker Billy’s“)  Seven weeks later, here’s what the pepper seedlings look like:

I’m not impressed.  The tallest are about 1 1/2″ high.  My tomatoes are taller, but not in a good way.  They’re kind of spindly.  They are skinny instead strong:

A somewhat ghostly looking little forest, wouldn’t you say?  And the color of the leaves is far from a healthy-looking green.  I didn’t photoshop these shots at all:

At the beginning of April, I decided to start a few more seeds.  Cucumbers and watermelon.  In the northeast “technically” you could start these seeds outside after the danger of frost has past and have enough time to reap what you’ve sown, but recent years have taught me otherwise.  Cucumber seeds are often considered prizes by area critters, or get washed away in early summer downpours.  I didn’t really want to even try watermelons again because I’ve had little luck with them in the past.  Plants purporting to produce nice, round “icebox” sized fruits have given me little more than a baseball.  Again, hubby encouraged me.  Promised me lots of fresh topsoil for my garden.  Go ahead dear!  Plant them!  We’ll put lots of cow manure in there too!  (Husband darling, if you are reading this, have you put any plans in motion to provide me with all this black gold for my pathetic patch of land now occupying the space I call garden?) 

Well, the cucumber seedlings took off and grew extremely promisingly.  So much so that I was concerned they might be TOO big to keep in the original planters before they go outside.  I got excited a bit too early.  Some of the cucumbers now look like this:

About half of them have just randomly turned yellow and died!  Yes, of course I am watering them faithfully, in case you were wondering.

So which of my seedlings look the best out of them all?  You guessed it, the watermelon.  The ones that I have the least faith that I can grow successfully once they are outside:

Memorial Day weekend is a little over 4 weeks away.  Check out #17 on this list.  Think I can do it?


  1. Oh no! Hope your little seedlings recover (or you don’t lose any more of them!)
    Crossing my fingers!

    Comment by thedailyclick — May 3, 2010 @ 6:45 pm | Reply

  2. Oh, hang in there karma! We’ve all jumped the gun at one time or another. It really isn’t our fault as we live in New England and it can be 85 degrees one day and snow the next!

    As for #17…MOST definitely YES! 🙂

    Comment by milkayphoto — May 4, 2010 @ 11:03 am | Reply

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence Tracy!

      Comment by Karma — May 4, 2010 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  3. Oh yeah? Remember I told you how bad my seedlings were doing? Well, the other day my whole little greenhouse thing blew over in the wind and took all my seedlings with it. I gave up. Swept up the mess and dumped it in my garden. Better luck next year, I hope!!

    Comment by Jennifer A (Bread and Putter) — May 4, 2010 @ 9:29 pm | Reply

    • That is an super-sad seedling saga. (this topic lends itself to alliteration!) Perhaps you will join me on the annual pilgrimage to the garden center this month?

      Comment by Karma — May 4, 2010 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  4. Well, Karma, I am sorry to see that you are going through some trials and tribulations with your little seedlings! Selfishly, however, this makes me feel just a teensy bit better because I am a first-time gardener this year (it’s already been 80+ in Florida for a few weeks now!) and for reasons I cannot quite fathom, two of the five herbs I planted turned kind of yellow and one got a leaf-disease of some sort. 😦 they are currently being rehabilitated and doing much better, though. Haha. It is nice to know that sometimes this can happen to the most experienced gardener! I can’t wait to see how these turn out once they are planted 🙂

    Comment by shoegirl — May 5, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  5. First: Happy bithday!!! – better (much too) late than never 🙂 – and then I must tell you, that I was happy that you showed your beautiful quilts, they are great, and what a huge work to make all these. I am sure they are lucky – all those who have them now.
    Maybe your seedlings did not grow well because of the soil you used????
    I also make seedlings – and among them this year 3 different tomatoes (!) – when they about the size of yours – I would accustom them to outside conditions (I do not use green house), resulting in setting them badly back (one nigtht with frost…), I took them in again, replanted them – and was lucky some of them survived. So I think we get both yellow, black and red tomatoes this year again…

    Comment by truels — May 6, 2010 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

    • Thanks Truels – for the birthday wish and the quilt compliments.

      I don’t know – I used “seed starting mixture” for the soil for the seedlings, so I don’t think that should be the problem. I’m thinking it may time to start taking them out for some sunshine soon and see how how they do!

      Comment by Karma — May 6, 2010 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

  6. […] all those seeds I started this year?  The only ones that actually made it into my garden were, you guessed it, the watermelon […]

    Pingback by A Gardner’s Day in the Life « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — June 4, 2010 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  7. […] my story earlier this year about the only surviving seedlings that I started?  I am shocked to discover that I may actually get to eat watermelon from my garden […]

    Pingback by Garden Update « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — August 5, 2010 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  8. […] you remember this sad tale of woe I told you last spring?  I decided to forgo the woe this spring and buy all my plants already […]

    Pingback by I’ve Got Mail! « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — May 22, 2011 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

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