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QUESTION:
I use a rich compost, but the seedlings grow so rapidly that the sprout is thin and withers and dies. Am I using too much rich soil?

 

ANSWER:
Seedlings don't need any fertilizer until they have their first set of true leaves so you should use a soilless seed starting mix for your seeds. The compost is too strong.
 
You probably have two problems going on with your seedlings as they emerge from the soil. What you describe could be damping off disease, which is caused by soil that is too wet. That's why a mix made to start seeds is better. You can try sprinkling sand around the base of your plants to keep the stems dry. A fungus that rots the stem at the soil line causes damping off. 
 
Never water your seedlings from the top. Always water them by pouring water into a tray underneath them and letting them soak it up. 
 
Also, to get strong stems on your plants, you should grow them under high-quality grow lights. 
 
Once your seedlings are up and growing, then transplant them to a good soil mix but it should not contain more than a third of strong compost. Straight compost is usually too rich for growing. Use compost just like any fertilizer, as an amendment to the soil.

 

 

 

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GARDENING FOR HUMMINGBIRDS
GardenSMART Featured Article

By Lisa Bartlett, Garden Manager, Smith-Gilbert Gardens

Hummingbirds are among the few birds capable of inspiring equal fascination among birders and non-birders alike. No other bird looks like them or flies like them. These charismatic and fearless tiny birds have captured the imagination of people around the world. Is it any wonder then, that there are whole gardens created around attracting and keeping hummingbirds coming back year after year?
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