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Germination / Growth Problems

Germination / Growth Problems
Where are the growing guides:  Click on each image to view the growing guide. Growing guides for each variety are also printed on the seed packets.
TROUBLE SHOOTING GERMINATION OR GROWTH PROBLEMS:
Seeds don't germinate: 
Planting seeds too deep or too shallow is one of the major reasons for seeds not germinating. Seeds like lettuce need to be lightly covered to germinate and if completely covered with heavy soil they generally don't germinate well. Until you become confident and well versed in planting depths try to follow the advised seed planting depth as far as possible.
Planting too early when the ground is still cold inhibits certain seed from germinating.
Moisture content incorrect. Keep the seeds moist whilst germinating but not soggy. They need moisture to germinate but some seeds like beans can rot in the ground without germinating if the ground is soggy or too cold. Seeds that need to be planted on or close to the surface are usually difficult to keep moist, but a piece of frost netting placed over the seeds once planted helps to keep the seeds moist and still allows enough light, heat and water for germination.
Pests. Check if your seed has not been eaten by pests like snails, mice, cutworms etc. Pests are a major cause of seed loss and can even eat an entire bed of planted seeds in one night.
Incorrect Storage. Do not vacuum seal your seeds, they need air to survive. The tiny amount of air in a sealed seed packet is enough for them to survive. Store your seeds in a dark cool place, seeds do not store well long term in a hot environment.
Timing. Some seeds take quite a while to germinate. Pepper seeds in general cause this problem. One year they germinate relatively easily and quite quickly, whilst other years they take their time. This depends on climatic and soil conditions, don't give up on some seeds too quickly.
Slow or scraggly growth of plant:
Each plant has its own growth requirements. Some plants like very fertile soil, whilst some will not perform well in soil that is too fertile. Cabbage likes a very rich soil, whilst carrots like a medium soil and if there is too much fresh compost in the carrot bed they tend to grow hairy roots and grow side 'legs' in dense, heavy soil instead of a nice solid root. Trial and error and crop rotation is the quickest way to sort this out and learn about the different types of soil. Pay attention to how plants grow in different beds and take note of the types of soils they prefer and rotate crops accordingly.
Planting the same crop in the same place each year can often cause this problem as the previous crop will have depleted the specific group of nutrients needed for that particular crop. The soil needs time to recover and successive plantings in the same position usually cause this problem.
Pests and diseases. Inspect the plant for pests. Some pests are microscopic and some are clearly visible to the naked eye. Aphids love cabbage, kale, cauliflowers etc. Pay attention to the leaves of cucumbers, baby marrows etc. as the leaves often seem to be covered in a powdery substance, this is powdery mildew and will affect growth. Look at the base of the plants as well, as snails, cutworms etc. can cause major damage to a plant, making it grow slower, look scraggly and they can even kill some plants if not taken care of.
Water requirements. Don't kill the plant with kindness. Some plants like thyme do not require a lot of water and do not like to grow with 'wet feet'. Other plants do require a lot of water, so make sure you are neither under or over watering according to the specific plants water needs.
Wind. Some plants like bay leaf can get 'wind burn' if exposed to strong winds when young. Check if the troublesome plant does not have wind burn, usually indicated by a slight browning and curling of the edges of the plant's leaves even when sufficient water is supplied.
Sunshine / shade. Some plants do not grow well in shade and will develop long thin stalks trying to 'reach' for sun. Other plants wilt and eventually give up if planted in full sun. Make sure your plant is in the correct position.
Cold. Some summer plants do not like cold at all and will grow very slowly if temperatures are too cool. This will cause problems with fruits setting and you may find that you will harvest very little or nothing at all from the plant.
Heat. Some cool weather crops like cauliflower do not like heat. They will often bolt and go straight to seed if the heat is too intense. Planting these crops very early or late in the season will solve this problem.
Weeds. If the plant has to compete with weeds for sunlight, air and water it will become scraggly, perform poorly and even die. Try to keep areas around plants weed free.
Shallow soil. Some plants have a shallow root system and some have a deep root system. If the plant has a deep root system and the ground is rocky or hard at the depth of the root system this will show up in the plants growth, appearance and general performance. Try to turn the soil deeply in beds where plants with deep root systems will be planted, this will loosen the soil at that depth and will also allow you see if it is rocky.
Misshapen, few or no fruits or vegetables:
Misshappen vegetables. If a vegetable is too short, too small or growing in an odd shape, this is a good indication of imbalanced or poor soil. The vegetable is not getting enough of the correct minerals needed. Cucumbers are a good indicator of this problem as they quickly become deformed when they don't get enough nutrition from the soil.
Small amounts of produce. This can happen due to a number of reasons. When some plants are busy setting fruit they do not like too much water as this can cause the flowers to drop off. Spraying the plants with a srong jet of water during watering can also knock flowers off.Check for pests eating the crop. Check the plant is getting adequate nutrition. Too much nitrogen on plants like beans can cause them to make massive amounts of foliage and very few beans, so do not over fertilize with nitrogen. Some plants do not set fruit in excessive heat, the scarlet runner bean for example will not set beans in excessive heat. Too few insect pollinators is also a huge problem, plant crops that attract pollinators to solve this and hand pollinate until pollinators increase.
No produce. The plant can be water stressed and did not receive adequate water. No insect pollinators are available, plant crops that attract bees to solve this problem. The plant was planted too late in the season to allow sufficient time for full growth and production and the plant is too small at the end of the season to allow for production. A diseased or damaged plant will not produce fruit until it has recovered from the desease or damage and produced sufficient foliage to support production.

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