This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

leggy seedlings

window basket leggy seedlings
I've been trying to raise my seedlings without a plant light. But they seem to be getting quite leggy. Especially the broccoli. To try to increase their light, I have suspended them right up against the south facing windows. Of course it would help if the clouds moved out of the way.



Anonymous Patrick said...

Is that a storm window? Sometimes storm windows are tinted or coated, and this can cut down significantly on the amount of light they let in...

March 27, 2008 9:15 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Its a double pane Anderson window (about 10 years old). Probably a no tint low-E coating. This say this only blocks UV and is fine for growing plants behind. Hmmmm... another consideration.

Its mostly just the broccoli (and to less extent lettuce) that is really tall. (Peppers look nice.) I'll work on putting them outside when the temperature allows. I wonder if it could be too warm for them inside.

March 27, 2008 9:45 AM

Anonymous Peter, Woburn MA said...

My broccoli did the same. I am growing my plants this year in a side porch that is kept at 50F at nights and 65F or more during the days (depending on amount of sunshine). I got around the problem by pricking out the seedlings into pots and burying most of the stem in the new soil. The plants have been doing great since then. This is always a good trick with tomato seedlings which can form roots all along stems. Burying tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of the first leaves helps to develop a better root system. I'm just not sure what I am going to do with all the seedlings I have right now.

March 27, 2008 10:04 AM

Blogger kathy said...

I didn't know you could do that with broccoli.

March 27, 2008 10:08 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

I agree with what Peter says. I wouldn't normally bury a broccoli seedling deep, but it might help with the legginess... 6 on one, half a dozen on the other...

Be careful if you decide to transplant them, they are probably fragile.

March 27, 2008 10:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What cover crop do you grow in your raised beds? When do you plant it?

I live right next to you in Watertown. Your site is very helpful. I'm new to more serious vegetable gardening -- just containers in the past.

March 27, 2008 10:42 AM

Blogger kathy said...

I have always planted winter rye, an annual ryegrass that is very cold hardy and grows fast. I can get it at my local True Value hardware store. I spread about 2 lbs of seed over my 350 sq ft of garden. (A lot, since the birds often help themselves.) This year I planted it in November and its still quite small, but sometimes I get it in earlier and it makes a nice thick coarse grass to turn under.

I enjoyed information shared by Gretta at the Belmont CSA Farm tour last week on cover crops. She likes to under seed some crops early to get the cover crop growing sooner. She also told us that winter rye is an easy to grow, but last resort cover. Better crops are legumes, which add nitrogen to soil (I just ordered some crimson clover to try this year). Gretta's favorite is spring oats, which she says plow under very nicely and make the soil very rich but need to be sown late summer to grow thick.

I used to garden in Watertown. I had a nice apartment there with garden space. Have fun.

March 27, 2008 12:06 PM

Blogger kathy said...

I found a nice site with broccoli info: "Seed - sow sprouting broccoli in a seedbed outdoors in March to May. Plant out in June. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded or they will soon become leggy and will not make such good plants. If your seedlings do get leggy, it is possible to plant them rather deeper into the soil - the buried stems will soon form roots and the plant will be better supported."

I think I'll just try for more sun now and transplant them deep in a couple weeks.

March 27, 2008 2:09 PM

Blogger Breezy said...

Re plant deeper sounds good to me, you have some good comments on this blog . I will be back. Thank you.
Lawrence at

March 27, 2008 3:48 PM

Blogger kathy said...

HI Breezy, I LOVE your chicken post on your site. I'm still debating getting a few hens. I can just imagine how they come for the dinner bell! Great.

March 27, 2008 3:56 PM

Anonymous Ether said...

I've got mine under growing lights, and they are definitely leggier than what you have pictured. I think this might just be a year for long-legged broccoli and the like.

March 27, 2008 9:48 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Oh, that makes me feel better. I think they'll be fine. We can;t all have squat little plants!

March 27, 2008 9:51 PM

Blogger ChrisND said...

Things like broccoli and cauliflower must need more light. I am trying cauliflower this year and my seedlings are looong.

March 28, 2008 12:57 AM

Blogger Adriana said...

I have leggy broccoli too in sunny southern CA. I started my seeds, including tomato, on April 13. Now I'm starting to think I did it all wrong and here I thought I was being a good gardener =|

April 21, 2008 6:09 PM

Blogger blancmaison said...


Did your leggy seedlings ever recover ? i planted some brassicas last weekend and quite a few have gone leggy ? i think once they have a few extra leave i will plant them into deeper pots and see if they recover.


February 07, 2010 1:07 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Yes. I did the same. Repotted deeper and then planted deep outside and they did fine. Try to give them more light.

February 07, 2010 1:17 PM

Blogger Rachel said...

So I've got really leggy starts you think that planting deeper would work for kale, chard, and romaine as well?

February 26, 2010 2:50 PM

Blogger kathy said...

Yes, I bet it will. I have leggy kale again this year. Its almost impossible to give them enough light!

I just loved the incredibly short and leafy seedlings at our farm in the hoop house.

But my leggy seedlings do pretty good just planted deep and they eventually get the full summer sun.

February 26, 2010 10:30 PM

Anonymous kamagra said...

How did worked out the seeding next to the window?? are there still clouds blocking the sun, or did the room already became a farm?

April 15, 2011 1:20 PM


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