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Old April 28, 2017   #53
ContainerTed
Tomatovillian™
 
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 6a - NE Tennessee
Posts: 4,016
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Let me get technical for a moment. Nature depends on that seed casing becoming wet and soft. That allows the pressures generated by the growing and expanding seedling to "BREAK" the casing and eventually shed it. It sounds like you are allowing the humidity of the tray to get too low during the "shedding" time period.

Sometimes, I will spend an hour each day taking my squirt bottle seen in previous pictures in this thread and squirting a drop of water onto those helmet heads and allowing the little seedling to push the casing off. If you get too impatient, you'll decapitate the little thing. But, this time spent allows me to do a detailed check on the emerging seedlings. Constant water drops for about 10 minutes usually does the job. Tweezers with needle points allows for gentle assistance for some of them. Human spit works well because it's "super wet" and stays there for a lot longer than plain water. The dilute HCL probably assists a bit as well.

So, my advice is to get you an eyedropper or something that will allow you to put a drop or half a drop of water on the helmet head and help the little plants get out of the casings.

I must comment that this year I had fewer helmet heads and I feel that the reason is that I kept the clear plastic dome on my trays much longer than normal. I plant seeds very shallow and this leads to the seedlings not being able to allow the growing medium to "encase" the seed casing so that the seedling can simply pull itself out of the "Helmets".

I see working on helmet heads as a necessary evil that one must do to reduce seedling loss.
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