They mainly serve as “snack packs”—energy bars for the infant plant to consume so that it can put forth its own true leaves.After the true leaves emerge, which can take several weeks, you’ll be able to spot more differences between seedlings as they take on the special shape and form of their kind.With proper watering, beet seedlings will emerge in five days to two weeks after planting.Young beets put forth smooth, oblong green leaves on red or pinkish/purple stems.Because several seedlings can grow from one beet “seed,” you may need to thin them by snipping some off at ground level.Carrot seedlings in the earliest stages may be mistaken for grass because their seed leaves, unlike some other vegetable cotyledons, are tall and thin.Photo by Victor M. Vicente Selvas (Own Work) via Wikimedia Commons.The oval seed leaves of emerging cucumber and squash plants look very much alike, but the cucumber’s true leaves will be triangular and lobed with a fuzzy surface and serrated (toothy) edges.As the cucumber vine develops, its delicate-looking but tenacious tendrils will grip and climb anything in their path.Its seed leaves may peek above the soil in about a week and the plants should be thinned to a foot apart when they reach five inches tall.Depending on whether the leaves will become soft or stiff, loose or bunched, lettuce seedlings will vary in appearance.Lettuce seedlings respond well to consistent watering and cooler temperatures and, if started indoors, will need to be hardened off before being planted outside.Peas like to climb and will form oval leaflets with tendrils that readily wind around supports.Pumpkin, squash, watermelon, and cucumber seedlings may be hard to tell apart because they belong to the same family, the cucurbits.A pumpkin’s seed leaves will be large, flat, and rounded, looking a little like small elephant ears.As it grows, a pumpkin will form huge leaves and its vines may eventually cover a lot of territory.Radishes are fast-growing, and those planted in the cool days of spring may be ready to eat in just three or four weeks.A winter squash leaf will generally be broader and more rounded and, while hairy, not prickly.Like beets (a close relative), chard typically produces 1 to 3 seedlings per seed cluster.Seedlings have narrow seed leaves and—depending on the type of chard—red, white, yellow, or orange stems.
Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss chard and beets are the same species, and they require a period of overwintering in order to set seeds.Downy mildew can be a problem for Swiss chard when grown close together as baby greens.Birds also enjoy the leaves, but protecting new seedlings under row covers can deter them.Swiss chard can also be harvested in closer plantings as baby greens, cutting the leaves about 3 inches above the soil and returning every week or so.At seed maturity, plants of this species take up a fair amount of garden real estate.Depending on the scale of seed collection, individual seedstalks can be cut or entire plants can be pulled from the garden and moved to a place where they can continue drying.Depending on the percentage of ripe seeds at harvest, 7 to 14 days should be a sufficient drying period.Small lots and cut branches can be processed by running a gloved hand along the length of the stalk with a container placed underneath to catch dislodged seeds; stalks should be discarded once they are stripped of seeds.Larger lots and whole plants can be placed in large tubs or on tarps and treaded upon.When stored under cool, dry conditions, beet seeds can be expected to remain viable for 5 years. .
How Do I Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that’s renowned for its nutritional value, and it’s popular with gardeners because it is so easy to grow.You can also download my How Do I Grow Swiss Chard one-sheet and keep the free resource handy for your reference.Also known as silverbeet, spinach beet, leaf beet or simply, chard, Swiss chard is a wonderful addition to soup, dip and baked dishes, and it can be sauteed in oil with garlic for a side or a warm salad.For earlier harvests, Swiss chard may be started indoors three to four weeks before the last frost date.The air movement will prevent damping off disease, a fungus that is fatal to newly sprouted seedlings.Hardening off is the process of gradually introducing plants to the outdoor environment and the intensity of the sun.Swiss chard performs best in full sun but will also tolerate a little shade.The soil should be well drained and amended with plenty of organic matter, namely compost.Space the seeds or seedlings out so that the plants will not touch one another once they have reached full size.Having grown this variety for years, I’m always amazed at how carefree and beautiful it is in the garden and on the plate.It’s like a painting with all the range of stem colors from red, orange, pink, yellow and white, all in one crop.The leaves are ready to harvest in 23 to 35 days from transplanting, and the plants have a good degree of disease resistance.Perpetual is an open-pollinated chard that has tasty, smooth leaves that taste like spinach and are ready to harvest in 50 days.Rhubard is a chard variety that is so named because it has thick red stalks like rhubarb.Like most vegetables, Swiss chard requires an inch of water per week.A drip irrigation system works well to ensure Swiss chard gets the moisture it needs for consistent growth.Just make sure that if using a fish fertilzer on chard that the first number in the NPK ratio is the highest.Swiss chard is largely unbothered by pests and rarely affected by disease.While feeding on plant leaves they excrete honeydew, which attracts ants and other insects.They are easily controlled by knocking them off plants with a sharp stream of water or insecticidal soap.Another strategy is to plant a trap crop of radishes, which flea beetles prefer over most anything else.For a severe infestation, a bait like Sluggo, which contains iron phosphate, is a safe, organic option.Avoid overhead watering that creates a welcoming environment for fungal spores.Read my comprehensive guide Powdery Mildew Prevention & Control for more information.The younger leaves are great in a salad or eaten like beet greens or spinach.Cut the young plants an inch above the ground with sharp scissors or garden shears and they’ll continue to grow over and over.Swiss chard is best enjoyed the same day it was cut, but it can be stored, unwashed, in an unsealed plastic bag for up to a week.Sign up to receive gardening resources, eBooks and email updates on the joegardener podcast and more.None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here.The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship.At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, Greenhouse Megastore, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Wild Alaskan Seafood Box and TerraThrive. .
How to Grow Chard from Seed
If you want to grow chard for harvest in winter, plant it under the cover of a plastic hoop tunnel or cold frame.Direct-sow chard seeds in the garden 5 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost; chard can be started indoors or in a plastic tunnel or cold frame 10 to 8 weeks before the last frost in spring.Chard can tolerate light frosts in the spring and moderate freezes in the fall.Avoid planting chard where beets, spinach, or orach has recently grown.12-10 weeks before the last frost in spring: sow seed in a plastic tunnel or cold frame.5-3 weeks before the last frost in spring: direct-sow seed in the garden; minimum soil temperature is 40°F.8-6 weeks before the first frost in fall: direct sow in a plastic tunnel or cold frame for winter harvest.‘Bright Lights’ is delicious eating, the leaves have vivid reds and yellows.‘Fordhook Giant’ is a good grower with dark leaves and white ribs. .
How to Fix Leggy Seedlings or The Art of Transplanting — Under A
For me, leggy transplants tend to happen to my earliest starts, the seeds that I have to plant in early to mid February. .
Growing Swiss Chard Plants
Fortunately, it is easy to grow in the ground or in containers—especially when you begin with strong, vigorous Bonnie Plants® Swiss chard starter plants—and is one of the few greens that tolerates both cool weather and heat.It will linger in the spring garden much longer than mustard, turnips, arugula, or other greens with the tendency to bolt.Get your growing season off to a great start by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil.Plants are generally problem free but may be attacked by aphids, mites, or caterpillars that chew holes in the leaves.For advice on how to handle pests and diseases in the garden, contact your local Extension agency.Chop large leaves to cook down like spinach, or use in casseroles, soups, and pasta.In areas that never experience a hard freeze, Swiss chard sometimes behaves like a perennial, living for several years.Whole harvested leaves will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks in a loose plastic bag or sealed container.Swiss chard is a neat plant that grows well among other vegetables as shown in this raised planter at Juniper Front Community Garden in San Diego.Harvest large leaves by cutting them from the outer part of the plant at the base of their stems. .
Leggy Seedlings: What Causes Them and How to Fix Them
Tall, spindly seedlings are common with garden seeds started indoors, but they can be saved if the problem is caught early.Tomato, zucchini, broccoli, kale, lettuce, and beet seedlings tend to get leggy because they’re started in spring when daylight is still limited.Beets, in particular, sprout multiple seedlings from a single seed ball, making them easily overcrowded and prone to growing leggy.This is a double whammy for your seedlings since being bogged down in the seed starting mix, where it’s moist and warm, can make them more susceptible to damping off disease.As soon as the seeds germinate, they respond to the heat by putting up tall, skinny stems before leaf production has a chance to catch up.Continued lack of moisture will turn them spindly and eventually kill them as they’re unable to access the nutrients they need from the soil.Note: I’ve recently updated this post to include the latest LED grow light technology on the market.Seedlings left to grow in such environments develop thread-thin stems that are far too fragile to survive in overly humid or hot conditions.Even if you’re religiously spritzing your seedlings with a spray bottle, there’s no guarantee the water is making it all the way down to the bottom (especially if you sow seeds in deeper containers).Bottom watering ensures the entire seed starting medium is moist and encourages roots to spread downward.To promote good plant health and keep seedlings from stretching for light, space them no less than an inch or two apart once they develop the first true leaves.Overcrowded seedlings will compete for light, and lack of proper airflow also makes them more vulnerable to pests and diseases.This simple motion simulates an outdoor breeze and tricks the seedlings into thinking they need to grow thicker stems to hold up against windy conditions.Sometimes, seedlings live indoors longer than they should because of bad timing with frost or slow turnover with older plants in the garden.If you jumped the gun on your seed starting this year or got some unexpected weather, there’s still hope: Rather than leaving your seedlings in their trays or tiny pots to continue growing, repot them individually into larger containers and move them to a space indoors that gets plenty of sunlight.Not only will this fix any problems with legginess, it’s a recommended practice to strengthen tomato stems and help their roots form more mass.Don’t worry about digging a super deep hole at this point, as you can simply plant your tomato in a shallow trench and save your back!These steps include providing more light, making sure your seedlings have consistent moisture, and encouraging movement (naturally or manually) to strengthen the stems. .
How to Prevent and Fix Leggy Seedlings ~ Homestead and Chill
On the right: Healthy, short and stocky bok choy seedlings, about half the height of the leggy ones.The primary cause of leggy seedlings is lack of sufficient light, either in brightness or proximity to the plants.Even in our greenhouse (which is partially shaded in the afternoon) we need to use grow lights in order to keep our seedlings happy.Paired with being stretched out tall, leggy seedlings will also often lean to one side – towards the direction of the brightest source of light around.Rather than focusing their energy on developing thick, strong, sturdy stems, leggy seedlings become increasingly thin, fragile, and weak the taller they become.Come planting time, not all types of seedlings like to be buried extra deep to compensate for their leggy stems.Packed in a tight bunch and harvested young, it also doesn’t really matter if homegrown microgreens become leggy.If you’re worried about missing this crucial moment, turn on your grow lights a few days after sowing seeds (but before they’ve sprouted).Remove any cover used over your seed starting tray to aid in germination (e.g. humidity dome or other) soon after the seedlings sprout, especially if it is not transparent.used over your seed starting tray to aid in germination (e.g. humidity dome or other) soon after the seedlings sprout, especially if it is not transparent.Most fluorescent lights can stay as close as a few inches above seedlings, while LEDs usually need to be kept higher to avoid burning the plants.Most fluorescent lights can stay as close as a few inches above seedlings, while LEDs usually need to be kept higher to avoid burning the plants.Starting seeds outdoors during winter (when daylight hours are usually shorter) can lead to unhappy seedlings, especially in a garden space that receives partial or full shade.In that case, take turns rotating different trays directly under the light every day until you can provide more.We personally love to use these seedling heat mats that have a built-in thermostat control and temperature probe.This keeps our heat-loving summer crop seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, basil, flowers, etc) happy in our greenhouse during the winter to early spring, where it can get quite chilly overnight but also very warm during the day.The little metal probe goes inside the soil (pressed down towards the bottom/warmest spot) and controls when the heat mat turns on or off, depending on the desired temperature set.I’m not talking about starting a new round of seeds when you’re several weeks or even months deep into the seed-starting season for your zone.For example, just the other day I started a few 6-packs of bok choy seeds on a heat mat in a dark spare room.I had every wonderful intention of checking them frequently and moving them out to the greenhouse (and under a grow light) as soon as they sprouted.Welp, I forgot to check on them for over 24 hours, they sprouted, and already looked way too tall for my liking.So I simply started more bok choy seeds, and kept the leggy seedlings as the ‘bad example’ for this post!I only “forgot” them in a dark room for ONE day after spouting, and they immediately grew leggy and pale.Also, young leggy seedlings are usually too tender to bury deeper in soil without the stems potentially rotting.Thinning reduces competition for nutrients, space, light, water, and improves air circulation.We prefer to feed our seedlings with seaweed extract, though fish emulsion is another popular choice.Pouring water in from the top runs the risk of knocking them over, and doesn’t provide even moisture.Watering from below: add an inch or two of liquid into the lower tray, but only enough that the seedling containers/soil will soak up within a few hours.‘Hardening off’ is the process of slowly introducing seedlings that were raised indoors to the outdoor elements.This generally involves taking the seedlings outside each day over the course of a week, starting with just a few hours in the shade and gradually increasing the time and amount of direct sunlight.Like a fan, this makes the seedlings stronger and more prepared to face challenges such as wind, rain, hot sun, or cold conditions.Generally, yes, you can plant leggy seedlings deeper in the soil to help compensate for the extra-long stems!I put a small amount of soil on the bottom of the new pot, but will otherwise keep the root ball deep in the new container so that I can bury the stem a couple of inches.The goal is to bury the leggy seedling stem enough so that the plant isn’t too top heavy and can successfully grow.You can do this with peppers and members of the brassica family: kale, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.You can do this with peppers and members of the brassica family: kale, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.If the vegetable is one that should normally form a head or bulb right at the soil line, then you’ll want to bury it up to that point – where the stem branches and begins to form the main crop, so that its weight will be supported on the soil surface.It is less necessary to deeply bury seedlings of plants that will continue to grow tall branching stems well above the soil line anyways, such as flowers or herbs .I’ve heard conflicting things about how well eggplant, squash, and cucumber seedlings take to being planted deeply (as they may be more prone to rotting).Therefore, play it safe and only minimally bury those if needed, and do so in well-draining soil that won’t hold copious moisture around their stems.Planting a slightly leggy cauliflower seedling, burying the stem a couple inches (up to the first set of leaves). .