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Growing from seed

Can anyone help this is my first year at trying to grow veg, I have bought seed trays with plastic tops and compost for seedlings I planted my seeds last Thursday and already my purple sprouts and yellow courgettes are up but the row where the carrots are is now covered by a white fur this has spread around the sprout seedlings will this hurt the veg and how can I get rid of it?? I am watering them with a spray gun and mist the soil carefully to prevent overwatering don't know if this is the correct way? Also do I prick them out when there second leaves appear like flower seeds?? And should the plastic lid still be on??image


  • Hi, little bee.....fraid this seems like too much water in the won't harm your seedlings as such, but do let the compost dry out a little.

    IMHO, more seedlings are killed by too much water than by all other issues combined........careful with the soil moisture level, it really is that simple.

    I know achieving the right moisture level is difficult when you first set out, so I would suggest investing in a moisture meter until you get the hang of it....they're very cheap.


  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Certainly take off the lid when the shoots appear.  As soon as they have roots (which have generally grown before the shoots) they can absorb water from only slighty moist compost/soil so there's no need to drown them!

    In fact, it may be better to water them from below, by standing the pots/tray in a shallow dish of water for a few minutes every few days, if it looks like they need it.

    The white furry stuff is a fungus (mould) which is not what you want - it may kill the little darlings, and it's caused by too much water.  So keep them just slightly moist.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks guys that's really helpful I have obviously over watered as I was doing it every morning I think I was too enthusiastic so will hold back and watering from the bottom seems a better idea.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    Hi little bee, I agree with the above.  It's important to remove the tops of propagator trays as soon as the seeds have germinated.  What I do is sow the seeds into the tray, water once from the bottom - as soon as the top of the compost starts to change colour they have had enough.  Put the top on and do no more watering until the seedlings show, then remove the top.  After that, water when the compost starts to dry out - I judge that by lifting the tray and feeling how heavy it is.

    Carrots need direct sowing into their final growing position - they won't transplant well and even if they do survive being pricked-out, they will produce poor roots.  When carrot seedlings germinate, they send down a very thin but very long single root.  This becomes the carrot and it is virtually impossible to transplant them without damaging this root which can become 15cm long in a matter of days after germination.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Definitely agree about carrots - same applies to parsnips of course. Although beetroot are OK in modules then transplanted - so maybe the same could be done with round-rooted carrots?  Never tried it though.

    On watering: I usually soak the compost before sowing then no more water till they need it, as you suggest, Bob.  And I've started filling the seed trays right to the top with compost this year, to allow the seedlings to be left there a bit longer.

  • Again massive thanks for this info Bob I will buy more carrot seeds and put them straight into my veg planter outside which I am buying next week and does this mean that I will be able to put carrots and beetroot straight into planter or is it too early to have them outside?  Steve good to know about the beetroot as they are the next seeds I was buying it has saved me planting them inside, will keep fingers crossed for the seeds indoors how big do they need to be before they join the carrots in the outside planter?

  • Glad you're getting this useful info, little bee.

    I would just add that each beetroot seed contains about 4 potential seedlings. So to avoid overcrowding & unnecessary thinning out later...sow just one seed per module. 

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Beetroot can now be sown straight outside where you want them to grow.  Sow them a couple of inches apart and remove all but the strongest of the two or three seedlings that each 'seed' produces. (Each 'seed' is actually a fruit containing a few seeds).  They should germinate in a week or two, particularly if the soil is warm and moist.  Harvest alternate plants when the root gets to golf ball size and grate them in summmer salads.  You can eat the young leaves in salad too. The other roots can be left to get to tennis ball size for the autumn.

    Sow carrots outdoors too, very thinly. If you have to thin them out, the smell is likely to attract carrot root fly, which can spoil your whole day.

    Those you have inside, I'd wait till they have a few proper leaves before moving them.  The courgettes want to be in 4" pots at least (one to a pot, but unless you have a large family or an inordinate liking for courgettes you won't need more than a couple of plants) till they have about 5 leaves and there's NO danger of frost, then they can go out into rich soil. 

    In the meantime you need to gradually get them used to the harsh outside world ('hardening off') by standing them outside on warm days and subjecting them gradually to harsher conditions till they can stay out all the time.  This should take a couple of weeks.  If you have (or can improvise) a cold frame, this will help.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Just had a thought.  If your courgette seedlings are in a tray, I'd prick them out singly into pots asap. It's usual to sow two or three seeds in a medium sized pot, remove all but the best and leave it in there till planting-out time.

  • Thanks again Steve your info is proving invaluable to me, can I just ask when do I put the seeds in the new planter (I get it next week is it best to fill it with veg compost) and when I have moved my courgettes into there pots when they start to get to proper little plants ( I am going to keep the best 2 ) can I plant them out in a Sports Direct Bag I was told I could grow tomatoes in it but prefer my grow bag for them. Its a big bag so would maybe get both plants in what do you think?

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