You received your Tower Garden, you started some seeds and you sit back and wait. After 1-2 weeks you go ahead and put them in your Tower Garden, the next day they look like this!
What went wrong? Why are they suddenly droopy, lifeless and lacking that deep, rich vibrant color?
Lack of sunlight!
The most common mistake I see Tower Garden growers all over the country make is this. Growers are not starting their seed out in the sun, or they don’t move them out there as soon as the seed splits (germinates). Nature has a great way of dealing with things. When seedlings are started with insufficient UV light they stretch in an attempt to find the UV light they so desperately need. This results in weak, stringy seedlings.
You can see the seedlings above have a very long stem and are all growing straight up, towards the window. So can you start seeds in front of a window? We’ll get to that in a bit.
So now you know what seedlings shouldn’t look like, let’s take a look at what they should look like.
Notice the difference? They are a rich, vibrant color. They are also short and stocky versus long and stringy.
Here are a number of FAQs on starting seedlings.
Can I start Seedlings in front of a window?
Most windows have a UV filter on them. This UV filter filters out the very UV light the plants NEED. If you have a purpose built sun room the windows probably don’t have filters on them. The only way to know would be to try it and see. HOWEVER, bear in mind that the sun will only shine through the window for a few hours a day, regardless of whether you have filters on them or not. There’s a good chance that you will not be getting enough sunlight through those windows. Many make this same mistake by placing their tower in front of a sunny window. Half of your Tower gets 4 hours or so of sunlight. The other half gets nothing. Can you see why your Tower and/or seedlings are not doing so well inside the house?
It’s freezing outside. What should I do with my seedlings?
PUT THEM OUTSIDE. If day time temperatures are not too cold (above 50 or so) put them outside during the day. If your night time temperatures are dropping into the 30s I’d bring them in overnight. Just put them back out the following morning. If your day temperatures are below about 50 degrees you may want to consider purchasing a seedling heating mat. These mats warm the bottom of the rockwool by approximately 10 to 20 degrees above the ambient temperature. Be sure you’re attempting to the right crops for your season. Cool weather crops tend to be leafy greens, lettuces, other brassicas (cabbage, kale, broccoli etc) and some herbs.
If you’re growing inside because you have a foot of snow on the ground, or you simply don’t have an area outside to put your Tower or seedlings, you may want to consider a grow light for seedlings. These two foot long T5 grow lights are compact and easy to setup. Adjust the height so it’s just 4 inches or so from your rockwool and away you go!
My seedlings were fine until I put them in my Tower Garden. Now they have wilted and look like they’re dying. Why is this happening?
It could be your water source. If your seedlings were fine, and now they are not, something is causing added stress. My guess is your water is chlorinated. Many cities are now adding Chloramine into our water. You can learn more about that here.
Do I need to water them with Tower Tonic?
No. Initially you can use half strength water to neutralize the pH of the rockwool. After that just use plain water. The seedling gets all the nutrient it needs from the seed itself for the first couple of weeks.
I planted too many seeds. Should I think them out?
It depends on what it is. Most lettuces and herbs should be fine. However, if you find you have ten tomato plants growing from one rockwool cube I would definitely thin them to no more than two. This post should also help you decide whether you should do that.