[Market-farming] yellow non growing seedlings

Marlin Burkholder burkholders at glenecofarm.com
Wed Mar 5 14:00:09 EST 2014

The most recent response  to my inquiry regarding the possible causes of
poor germination and yellowed seedlings and stunted growth seems to come
closest to explaining what is happening to my plants.  I had a similar
experience about 6 ­ 8 years ago when I used an all organic OMRI approved
germination and potting soil mix purchased at a local garden center for
starting plants.  It also happened several times when I used worm castings
in some of my starting mixes.

On 3/4/14 10:18 AM, "Susan Ventura" <sue at dragonfly-farms.com> wrote:

> The plant based proteins in organic fertilizers (i.e. soybean meal, alfalfa
> meal) inhibit germination and can cause the seedling die off when they break
> down into nitrogen.  We had this problem when switching to a higher nitrogen
> based organic fertilizer a few years ago a 5-4-3 (North Country Organics
> Pro-Gro) fertilizer versus a 2-3-4 (North Country Organics Pro-Start).  We
> spoke with the manufacturers of the fertilizer and they indicated the above.
> The fertilizer manufacturer said to water drench the plants to dilute/leach
> out the fertilizer that was there.  That did help prevent further die off,
> those that were already failing did still die.
The analysis of the Plant Tone is 5-3-3 and it contains several of the plant
based proteins mentioned in Sue¹s response.  I did not think I was using an
excessive amount of the fertilizer when I prepared the soil (several
handfuls in about two cubic feet of soil) but I was not measuring accurately
and may have used enough more than I had used in the first batch I mixed up
which had no problems, to cause trouble.  I guess I have been assuming too
much that the organic ingredients have a slow breakdown and release rate and
shouldn¹t be toxic to plants even though I¹m not being precise in my
application methods.

That is one of the values of the MF forum in that we can learn from one
another things that are not written in books or on product containers.  I
express my thanks to all who have responded to my original post.  It sure is
disconcerting when one thinks he is doing things right and things screw up
that bad!  It is also profoundly humbling when one who thinks he has a lot
of experience, bombs out with the next move!

I set the tomatoes and brassicas in nursery wagons outside on the patio and
drenched them with about five gallons of water per four flats and set up
fans to dry them out before moving back inside.  The air temps are in the
forties but the patio is south facing and catching some afternoon sun.
Let¹s see what happens.   I plan to fertilize with a 20-20-20 soluble
fertilizer at the rate of 1/2 Tbs/gal with the next watering.   Am I making
another mistake?

I¹ll probably drench everything else too but I have less hope that these
plants will recover.  Will it be safe to plant melons and cucumbers into
these flats or will I be better off to dump them and start over with new
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