Leggy seedlings

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    Hello Charles,
    My Boltardy beetroot seedlings, sown 11 days ago
    and left on a table in the house beside patio doors
    have germinated but are looking a little leggy.
    Certainly compared to the ones in your you tube video.
    I haven’t got a greenhouse but do have a gro-house but
    surely that would be too cold to put them in there?
    (I live in the UK, south-east)


    Jacob Lockcuff

    Clair, how cold is it there? More information on your grow house would be appreciated. I grow all of my seedlings here in northwestern Arkansas, USDA Hardiness Zone 6, Sunset Zone 35, in a low tunnel I made of PVC pipe and 6 mil greenhouse plastic. It’s unheated. I do take my seedlings indoors at night to prevent them from freezing (Though this has not been needed as much lately, as it’s been very mild weather.), but during the day, even if it’s below freezing all day, it maintains at least 50 F. With no wind inside, that’s perfectly fine for the cool weather seedlings. I suspect in the UK you guys rarely have below freezing spells for weeks like we do occasionally, so you’d probably be fine. I vent it when we hit 40 F and it’s sunny, as it will quickly hit 100 F inside if allowed much higher. It averages 50-70 F on the coldest days at this time of year. You may wait until it gets warmer, as I am, to sow warm weather crops like tomatoes or peppers. The normal time here is mid March, which is perfect for transplanting in mid May, our average last frost date.
    I suspect the grow house would be fine, but more information on it would be appreciated! Is it plastic, or fabric? Is it enclosed? etc.



    I have the same problem as Clair. I’ve sown, amongst other things, spinach, radishes and turnips which have all germinated fine. They are kept indoors at around 21°C with grow-lights but are getting very leggy. So I wanted to ask Charles, where do you keep seedlings after germination and especially at what temperature? Outside is freezing, but I don’t have a frost free greenhouse only a very leaky one where it does freeze at night. And as opposed to Jacob Lockcuff we get very little sun here in winter that could warm up the green house.



    Hello all
    I sowed only yesterday, so no legginess yet! It’s one reason I recommend not before mid February, and this year the forecasts have been flagging cold weather in the medium outlook for a while.
    So after two weeks on my hotbed, I move the germinated seedlings to a bench in the greenhouse where there is no heat, and sometimes they freeze.
    But everything one sows at this time of year can tolerate some frost. Main thing is as much light as possible.
    On v cold nights we lay a fleece over.
    I sow tomatoes 20th March on average.
    Courgettes in April etc.




    I am in the same region as you and I found last year that many of my leaf plants, sown samish time as Charles sowed, were more leggy than his. Charles is lucky to have a very sunny aspect at Homeacres, much more than me here, so I think high indoor temp + lower light levels may cause the legginess. So I moved my spinach and cabbage after transplanting into 7.5cm pots out into my lean to in early March and they did Ok.

    This year I have put my leaf sowing back to 18/02 (nothing through yet) and the Boltardy to 24/02. I intend moving them into the lean to as soon as the seedlings emerge properly and can grow rather than germinate.

    All my earlier beetroot seedlings, even those sown in late April, seemed more leggy than Charles’! But they all gave good crops in the end…..so unless they start falling over I would persevere. Last year I transplanted into the soil in mid March and the plants did much better with a shot of seaweed after sowing to get them to establish well. This year, it may be too cold to do that….



    My seedlings for which there was no room under the LED lights have also stretched a bit. However, as I had to make a choice I left the tomato and tomatillo plants on the window cill with less light. The reason for this is that today I’ve just repotted them having carefully curled the stem around in the pot where they can safely produce new roots. My 8″ tall plants are now only 2″ tall.
    While this may not be ideal it provides me with 2 benefits:
    1. more growing space for seedlings when the sowing goes bonkers later on, and,
    2. I have something green to appreciate!



    I haven’t started sowing as it’s such cold weather. Waiting a little while I find better as things catch up with the warmer lighter days. When I sow I sow on my allotment in covered seed trays with fleece over the top. This seems to prevent legginess. The seedlings get maximum light being outdoors and the plastic cover and fleece are enough to keep the cold off. In a normal February I would be just starting now but it’s about to get even colder so I’m going to wait a couple of weeks.
    I also sow in the autumn in boxes, with fleece or double fleece over the top. I have overwintered lettuces now which are about 5” tall and should grow well when I plant them out under a mini tunnel in a couple of weeks. They have survived winter ok – despite the boxes being blown off the table in a gale and having to be replanted!
    For tomatoes I germinate them indoors then treat them as above. Courgettes squash and runner beans outside as above but much later.
    I never get legginess problems with this method- which came about as I have nowhere suitable at home.
    Best of luck everybody with your seedlings this year!

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