[Market-farming] yellow non growing seedlings

Marlin & Christine Burkholder burkholders at glenecofarm.com
Mon Mar 3 23:06:04 EST 2014

I have checked for fungus gnats and found none.  I had started with a
sterile potting mix straight out of the bag and had only mixed in a small
amount of Plant Tone, an all organic mix with no soluble salts.  I had
germinated the tomatoes and brassicas in seedling trays and had pricked over
healthy seedlings into the fertilized grow out trays before the trouble
started.  Lettuce and spinach was seeded directly into this same batch of
mix and they started going down as soon as they came up.  I may have bottom
watered more than I should have as I was using for the first time some giant
plant trays (capacity four 1020 flats each) which I had ordered from
Greenhouse Superstore.  I only put about a ½ gallon at a time in each tray
as the soil began looking dry on the surface.  Another dozen or so flats
were not in the big trays, were watered from the top, and look just as bad,
so that leads me back to suspecting something pathological or toxic in the
soil mix.  What makes this thing look strange is that I had started a bunch
of onions and lettuce back in November nearly the same way using potting mix
and Plant Tone from the same bags and had no trouble then.


One question though, four days after I had mixed the ill-fated plant
starting medium, I planted the lettuce in the remaining six flats I had left
stacked near my seeding table. Each of these flats had a thin layer of white
mold mycelium beginning to form on the surface.  Though I have seen this a
few times before, I do not recall it causing problems.  I would think that
came from mold spores floating around in the basement air  and settling on
the flats rather than something in the potting mix.  The lettuce seedlings
in those six flats are failing but so is the spinach seeded into the first
eight flats from that batch which were freshly mixed.  Also the next batch I
mixed up, which received the tomato and brassica pricks, is looking bad.


Last year,  after having trouble with weak starts from the year before, I
decided to avoid using organic amendments in  plant starting mixes and I had
good luck starting everything using Miracle Gro or something equivalent.  I
also got rid of the small amount of Roundup I had in storage and had
occasionally used for spot spraying in fence rows.  I now know that Roundup
can infiltrate plastic and contaminate a plastic container enough to damage
plants if one forgets that the container had been used to temporarily store
a Roundup mix and was later used as a container to carry water for plants.
I don’t think Roundup is causing my trouble this year.  As much as I hate
to, I think I am going to go back to using only chemical salt based
fertilizers in the greenhouse for the remainder of this season.


If I decide to chuck this whole mess and either start over or go out to a
commercial greenhouse and buy plants, does anyone have any practical
suggestions as to how I could salvage the damaged flats by applying a soil
drench and prepare to reseed?   Other wise I will have to bite my lip, dump
all the flats, and scatter the stuff on the hay field.


From: Robert Schuler [mailto:sunnfarms at gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:01 PM
To: burkholders at glenecofarm.com
Subject: yellow seedlings


Two things to check, soluble salts can burn roots, pythium rot from
overwatering. I use sterile plug starting mix. I leave the compost mix for
transplanting seedlings to larger cell trays. I never use fertilizer on
seedlings... Bob. 

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