major onion failure

Asked March 23, 2020, 11:24 AM EDT

I planted seeds in potting soil in egg cartons, they grew to about 2 inches, very spindly, tops turned brown. cut tops off and moved closer to grow light. Now all but a few are totally dead. Varied heighth and length of light, let plants dry from possibly too much water. Haven't added any fertilizer yet; if you think this will help, what do you recommend? Other seedlings, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, bell pepper, seem to be doing OK, but I don't believe as well as they should for 5 weeks. Watermelon cantaloupe, pumpkin, going gangbusters, in fact, pumpkin needed to moved out to garden. Paul

Nye County Nevada

1 Response

Hi Paul,
Depending on the environment you are growing in, egg cartons will only work for a very short time period. They are fibrous and can easily make an environment to wet or wick moist quickly from the soil. If you are using styrofoam egg cartons drainage is key and transplanting seedlings into larger containers after they have developed their second or third set of leaves.
Onions specifically should be started in larger containers as they do not like to be transplanted and are very delicate. They also prefer different soil and air temperature from your tomatoes and peppers. Since carrots are a taproot they do not like to be transplanted at all and should be directly seeded outdoors. They prefer cold soil and air temperatures.
Depending on where you live in Nye County temperatures will vary. If you are closer to the Las Vegas area you cool-season plants (carrots, onions, broccoli) should have been growing outside by now. Generplanting time for those crops would have been closer to January/February. These crops can handle freezing temperatures and will begin to decline in the hot temperature of early spring and summer. Your other crops are warm season and love the warmer (but not extreme heat) temperatures.
I have attached a few information sheets to help you along your way.
Please let me know if you have further questions.
https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/starting-seeds-indoors
http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/files/164220.pdf