[Market-farming] yellow non growing seedlings

Bill & Izabella pureprairiefarm at gmail.com
Wed Mar 5 20:37:12 EST 2014

Organic fertilizers need to be broken down by microbes and the microbes
need nitrogen to make their bodies.  Since there is no nitrogen, they are
taking it from the plants which turns them yellow.  If you really want to
see this at work, add coir (coconut fiber) to your potting mixes.  All your
plants will look like Charlie Brown Christmas trees after a few weeks. I
poured almost straight ammonia on the soil to try to get enough nitrogen in
the there. (microbes prefer their nitrogen as ammonia not as nitrates)

Last year our landlords well water became dramatically salty in a matter of
four months.  In Oct, the EC reading was 300+ which is not too bad for well
water and in February it was 1300.  We lost thousands of new starts to
"damping off" but was probably an electrical burn to the roots.  We
shlepped chlorinated city water  (EC reading of 200+) in buckets to the
greenhouses and we were able to continue germinating new seeds.

Good luck!

Chicago with 18" of snow and -15 wind chill last Monday

On Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 1:00 PM, Marlin Burkholder <
burkholders at glenecofarm.com> wrote:

> *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 Sue's 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 shouldn't be toxic to plants even though I'm 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.  Let's 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? I'll 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 soil?*
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