I grew hundreds of seedlings this year. Unfortunately, most got about an inch tall and stopped growing. I tried different things — heated matts, different light, different soil — but no matter what I tried, very few made their way on to adulthood.
My brother came by this weekend. He grew the world's largest pumpkin one year, so he knows a thing or two about getting plants to grow. Here is what he said.
- You need starter soil. These little seeds need the perfect environment to get going and a lot of the soil I used just didn't have the right stuff. There are all kinds of seed starting mixes out there. You can bet next year, I'm giving them all a go to see which one works best for me.
- Your compost is crap. I actually guessed this one. Every year I put compost on my beds and my plants love it. This year my compost came and it was full of big sticks — AND PLASTIC — and looked like it had only half composted. If you compost hasn't completed it's mission, it's likely to take nitrogen OUT of your soil to keep the process going.
There is one bright side. Because my compost is still composting, next year my soil should be pretty good after it's full compost. Bad side? I need to get some serious fertilizer on all my plants. Went out and bought them water soluble stuff so I can get it on them quickly. (There was no easy I was going to spread another 12 yards of compost.)
So, I'm off to add fertilizer. The great thing about gardening. You're always learning.