I humbly ask for horticulture help

I still don’t know why i decided to try to grow anything this year since i’ve never attempted a garden in my life. The idea hit me one day, so i bought a pot, Schultz potting mix, seeds, and Miracle Grow and started a wee garden. For the record i water every other day (too much?).

First it was about 12 tomato plants. They all sprouted at the same time. They all grew at an alarming rate: 5 days after sprouting they were about 4" tall. Then for whatever reason, half of them got “kinks” in the stem and just keeled over. So i pulled them out and had 6 little soldiers left. The next day 4 of them bit it. I kept 2 alive for about another week then 1 decided to bite it. Now i have 1, and luckily this sucker is going strong and has all kinds of leaves.

Notice in that picture the 2 long skinny plants? Those are the only remaining watermelon plants after planting 6 seeds (2 groups of 3). They suffered the same fate as the tomato plants where the stems get thin and then kink and they fall over. However, with these watermelons. . . they don’t do anything!

Question time:
[li]Am i being impatient with the watermelons?[/li][li]What did i do wrong to make most of my sprouts have weak-ass stems?[/li][li]Is it safe that i use my desk lamp to keep them lit during the day? (my room is on the dark side of the house)[/li][li]When should i transplant everything outside into regular dirt?[/li][li]Should i ease up on the Miracle Grow?[/li][/ol]

May be lacking natural light- but they will need to be acclimated slowly, with a little sun at a time or the plants will die from sunburn. Do you have someplace outdoors with morning light or dappled shade that you can put the pot for a week or so?

I don’t know about watermelons, but the kinks/weak stems in the tomatoes sounds like damping off- it is caused by a soil borne fungus. You might eliminate it in the future by microwaving the soil before planting seeds. Even under the best conditions, a few tomatoes will get it. When a couple of mine keeled over this year, I trimmed off the pinched off bit, stuck the sprout in water, let new roots grow, and put it in some fresh soil. It was fine.

Spindly plants usually about not enough light – the plants are stretching out trying to get to whatever light they can. A desk lamp doesn’t have the right mixture of wave lengths – get a grow light or a fluorescent fixture. Outside is better – you need to “harden off” the plants, which are used to cushy conditions outside. Put them outside, in a sheltered spot, for a couple of hours a day – gradually increase the length of time over a week or two.

And yeah, you’re probably overdoing it with the Miracle Gro. Only water the plants when they need it (stick your finger in the dirt – only water if it’s dry an inch down). Use a weak solution of MG every week, or a slightly stronger solution every two weeks.

Can’t tell from your description what the problem is with the watermelons, but I’m guessing lack of light is a factor. Fruits and veggies generally need a lot of sun.

You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.


I need a pout smiley, darn you!

The picture makes it clear that they didn’t get enough light and they’re spindly. Only water when the soil is almost dry to the touch. I recomend you don’t start the seeds in your bedroom anymore, especially as a first time gardener.

You can plant some quicker maturing tomato seeds dirtectly in the garden now. Look at the package and it gives days to mature or harvest. Find a variety that has no longer than 90 days, look for 60 days.

You can buy small started tomato plant, and it will be hardened off already and weeks more advanced than seeds sown into the garden now.

Melons are hard to get to mature unless you live in the southern USA. An experienced northern gardener can coax a few to ripen before a frost. I suggest that you try something else this year unless you live down south

Is the garden in full sun all day? You can grow most vegetables if it is, but watch that the days to mature don’t take you past the first frost. Vine plants usually are planted directly where they are to grow. A good vining plant for a first time gardener would be cucumbers, or squash, or a smaller pumpkin. Gourds grow easily also. Zucchini grows abundant, more like prolific, and you’ll see why its a joke among gardeners that they can’t give enough of it away. Vine plants also root at each leaf node if they contact the soil, and the plant does better if it does root at these locations.

You transplant after all chance of frosts (besides a freak July one) are over. You’ll have to harden the tomato off or it’s lost too. Put in in a shady protected area for a couple days at least. Then in partial morning sun. Then in full sun. You can plant the stem under the soil so only the leafy part is above ground. Tomatoes reroot at all leaf nodes in contact with the soil.

I would plant seeds of tomatoes now or buy a started one if I was you so you have something if the last one dies. Starting plants indoors is not easy.

Given your location, you are going to need monster-big tomatoes and melons if you want to get them to actually ripen.

Starting from seed is a major production. Trust me on this (I’m the idiot who started seven flats this year, that’s about 500 plants.) My diagnosis from your pic is that your seedlings need way more light, they got “stretch” disease from trying to reach the light.

Go to your local garden center now and buy the nicest affordable plants they have. Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors. Set them in a shady area. Then put them in the sun for an hour or two. Gradually increase the time out in the sun- over the next week. Then plant.

Yes, you are over-watering. Only water plants when they need it, this is especially important with plants in a container. You can drown them very easily!

There is lots of info specific to your area here:

One addition.
Your watermelon seedlings are NOT supposed to look like that!
Healthy melon seedlings are much, much shorter.
They definitely needed more light.
Sorry, I don’t think they’re gonna make it.
Don’t feel too bad.

Here’s what happy watermelon seedlings should look like (knew I’d find a good pic eventually, why did it have to be after “edit” was over?)

One other thing to consider: according to the guy at the nursery where I get my plants, it’s not the best idea to fertilize tomato plants because then you’ll get lots and lots of greenery and not much in the way of tomatoes. Maybe someone else can confirm this? All I know is that I have never used Miracle Grow or other fertilizer on my tomato plants, and they do just fine.

Tomatos actualy can root anywhere along the stem, not just the leaf nodes.

Correct, basically.

Fertilizers, whether chemically based, like Miracle-Gro, or “natural,” have three basic active ingredients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus §, and Potassium (K). These elements do different things: nitrogen helps photosynthesis, so it encourages leaf (foliage) growth; phosphorous helps with root development; potassium is for developing fruit and disease resistance. You’ll see what is known as an NPK number on packaging – the numbers reflect the relative amounts of these three elements in the mix.

Miracle-Gro is a) not well balanced, and b) artificially based, thus apt to leach through the soil quickly (and possibly into the water table, which isn’t a good thing). I prefer more natural fertilizers, if you want to use them. Your best bet: compost (in other words, nice rich soil to start with) – and, if you want to add something to the soil – try eggshells. Just crumble them around the base of the plant – the calcium in them will help with fruit formation.

You only need to keep the nitrogen down. The other two promote healthy roots and blooms.

How far apart did you plant them, also? Did they get seperate pots or did you have them all in the same one?


I’m in Maryland, which is considered southern being south of the Mason-Dixon line. Not sure how south you recommend? The garden/pot has been outside once when i had a dozen tomato plants and most of them didn’t survive a few hours in the sun. The 2nd outside adventure was just this evening and it resulted in 1 watermelon fatality. But my tomato warrior is still going strong after that first bout.

Dammit, i honestly thought this is what they were supposed do and it gave me an ego boost for being able to grow them this fast :frowning: I put the pot outside this evening to get about 90 minutes of the remaining sun. 1 watermelon snapped in the middle :frowning: I am so bad at this, no wonder i do computers for a living.

If those are happy watermelon seedlings, they’d have penis envy if they took a gander at what i’m growing. Oh wait. . .

Tomato plants were 1 seed about 2" apart spread throughout the pot. Now, obviously thinned down to just the 1. Watermelons, i THINK, 3 seeds in 1 hole, 3 seeds in another hole 4" away–both equidistant from the tomato–but now you see all that i have left. :frowning: Everyone was in the same pot, drinking the same water, eating the same soil, soaking in the same incandescent lightbulb glory. I’m Italian, togetherness is good i thought :smiley:

Gardening depresses me now. :smack:

Plant the melon seeds in the soil not the pot. Plant a couple tomato seeds in the ground. Do it tomorrow.

To clarify:
melon seeds in a hole i dig in the dirt filled with Schultz potting soil

tomato seeds in the regular Maryland dirt


Tomorrow is a high of only 59F, should i wait?

Tomatoes need lots of transport chemicals like potassium and calcium, so give them a little lime. If they are in a pot, just a little bit. Your leaves should be dark green if you have enough.