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Tomato seedling issue

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Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/8/2012, 8:38 am

hi! so im new at growing tomatoes from seeds, but the last two years i've grown them from pre-grown seedlings -maybe badly- but they grew Razz

the tomatoes im trying to grow are both indeterminate and determinate (i got them mixed up by accident) cherry tomatoes. they're currently in my bathroom under some growing lights, next to the heater, so they're nice and warm. (but not too warm lol, i made that mistake already Razz)

i have a few questions regarding the seedlings:

1. what the heck does 'two true leaves' mean? the source i read said to transplant them when they've got 'two true leaves,' but to me that's when they're 1 inch high. and yet another source said to transplant them when they're 10cm high (about 4-5 inches). so im confused. :|
2. after i transplanted them into 4 x 4 pots the first time (when they were an inch high) some just fell over. perfectly healthy looking, just on their side without roots atall - and i didn't knock them over and they're away from my cats, and i planted them firmly in the soil. what the heck caused this? can i just stick them back in the ground?
3. and also, what is the recommended container size to start them in as seeds? would an egg carton work fine?

i moved them back into smaller containers once i realised the soil wasn't heating up as much, so we'll see if they do better at all.

thanks so much!


Last edited by Grey.tea on 3/8/2012, 9:04 am; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : too much hobb-gobble)

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  quiltbea on 3/8/2012, 12:04 pm

Containers for starting seeds are so diverse and we all have our favorites. Mine happen to be soil blocks so I can't help you on containers. I never had good luck with the cells because of transplanting issues and root disturbance. Others have no trouble with separate cells (those 6-plant packs and up to 72-cells in a tray) and starting in verminculite at all.

The first 'true leaves' are the 2 that show up AFTER those very first 2 when they germinate. The first ones are all the same, but the true leaves are a little different depending on the plant growing.

Your plants probably fell over and broke due to 'damping off' which is what happens when the plants are too wet. You watered them a little too much. Once they have germinated, they don't need the constant watering. It can be tricky, even for those of us with a few years experience in starting seeds.

Be sure the tops of your plants are only about 2" from the lights or they'll get 'leggy' which means they'll stretch too tall to reach the light and get weak. Only keep the light on 16 hours a day. They need to rest, too. You start off in small containers, then transplant into a little larger (2" and 4"), and then larger pots (6")for large seedlings like tomatoes to save wasting earlier pots and starting soil on ones that won't make it. Not all seedlings live to grow in your garden thru the seedling phase. When klifting newly-germinated sprouts from vermiculite (if you use that starting method), don't ever lift a seedling by its stem, but rather by a leaf. Its stronger.

Good luck and enjoy the experience.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Squat_Johnson on 3/8/2012, 3:45 pm

I have had dampening off problems (and still do somewhat). I try to keep it at bay by doing the following:

- water in the bottom of trays, letting the top dry out, even sprinkle a little straight vermiculite around the stems

- run a fan in the room with a timer (5 min on every two hours)

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/9/2012, 12:58 pm

quiltbea:

ahh, i've heard of damping off but i didn't know exactly what it meant. thanks! Smile you were very helpful, ill use a lot of the information you gave me.

i think im going to try starting over with new seeds, it's early enough in the season. Razz

squat_johnson:

thats a good idea, thanks Smile i dont know how i would do the fan on a timer, but ill give it a shot.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Squat_Johnson on 3/9/2012, 3:34 pm

My walmart has a $7 timer that has a circle of switches, one for each 5 minute increment.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Brinks-Grounded-Timer/16816086

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/10/2012, 6:22 pm

squat_johnson :

thanks, ill look at my wal-mart for it Smile

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  quiltbea on 3/10/2012, 7:26 pm

Another thing that seemed to work for me, or it did last year, is spritzing my new seedling blocks with a weak green tea solution when I've planted the seeds. I don't know why or if, but I had no damping off at all last year.

This year I didn't have green tea around for spritzing so used plain room temp water (we have well water, no chemicals) and had a few fall over on the heat mat under the dome. I hope to get some more green tea bought before I do my summer seed starting so will test that theory again.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/10/2012, 8:26 pm

quiltbea :

just normal everyday green tea? like the kind you drink? if yes that sounds like a great idea Very Happy. ill try that out.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Tommy Tomato Toes on 3/10/2012, 9:23 pm

Weak chamomile tea is supposed to help.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  quiltbea on 3/11/2012, 1:36 pm

greytea.....Yes, ordinary green tea bags are just fine. I usually make myself a strong cuppa (of tea) with one, then put the used bag into another cup of warm water and let it steep a few mins so its got just a little color to the water. When it cools, the tea water is poured into a spritzer bottle that sprays a fine mist. I spritz the fine vermiculite that covers my newly-seeded soil blocks with the room temperature tea water for their moisture. Cover with a plastic dome and put the tray on a heat mat. I use the same tea formula to mist my seeds as needed for moisture until they're germinated and under the lights and looking good.

Tommy....I also heard that weak chamomile tea helped as well but only have experience with the green tea.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/11/2012, 4:35 pm

sweet, ill try this immediately then Razz thanks a lot for the info Smile

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/11/2012, 7:59 pm

Hey QBee

I read your posts about seedling getting leggy and keep your light how far from the plants. I thought I read 2 foot yet you say 2 inches??:scratch:

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Grey.tea on 3/12/2012, 6:16 am

good question, i've been wondering about that myself. i just figured it was personal preference, and that they should be closer than not. but i could be wrong.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  camprn on 3/12/2012, 6:43 am

2-4 inches! Wink

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 3/12/2012, 10:18 am

@camprn wrote:2-4 inches! Wink

+1 First year I've used lights (placed them 2-4 inches from sproutlings) and first year my seedlings actually look sturdy and not terribly leggy! YAY! Smile

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  quiltbea on 3/12/2012, 11:45 am

Floyd.....The distance from the lights to the tops of the plants is 2 INCHES. The fluorescent tubes don't give as much light as true sunlight, therefore they have to be close to gain the advantage.

I had to check back on my post to be sure I didn't write 2 feet, and I didn't. It states 2" (2 inches) in the explanation. Sometimes I forget to hold the shift key when using those keys so I thought I may have thrown you a curve. TWO INCHES is the distance folks.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/12/2012, 5:59 pm

Thanks for the info..They are now 2-3" from the highest seedling top to the bottom of the light. The plants are about 5" high so is there any chance they will recover or should I put some soil around them?:scratch:



Will not make this mistake again going forward as most of my garden is summer plants.affraid

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 3/12/2012, 6:26 pm

Floyd1440
Are your seedlings tomatoes? If so, then you can just bury the stem when you are transplanting them and the stem will actually sprout roots. My favorite way to plant them is a modification of the trench method where you lay the root ball in the corner of the square and lay the stem in a shallow trench and cover it over with the tip of the plant sticking up in the middle of the square at a bit of an angle. Make sure to remove any leaves from the portion of the stem you are burying. Smile

There are other veggies however, that you probably shouldn't bury too deep, but I will let other more experienced posters comment on those... Smile

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/12/2012, 7:33 pm

Unfortunatelythey are not tomatoes; they are brocolli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Perhaps someone else has had this problem and can advise me on how to proceed.

Next I planted my seeds in a tray and when should I cut each block or cell down to one plant?

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  quiltbea on 3/12/2012, 7:39 pm

I was just reading about planting depths last nite. The broccoli and cauliflower can be buried a little deeper than they were growing but the cabbage should be buried only up to the the bottom of the lowest leaves.

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/12/2012, 8:04 pm

I planted them 1/2" deep as both the seed packet and mel's book says. So can I uproot them and replant them in the cells?

Don't want to loose them and will see if the continue to get more "leggy"

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  Squat_Johnson on 3/13/2012, 11:25 am

Some legginess (and sometimes damping off) can be overcome by potting up into a deeper pot. I put some broccoli into the bottom of 4" pots because they were showing some signs of damping last week.

Here's a visual of lights 2"-4" above about a hundred tomato and various seedlings.


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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/13/2012, 6:21 pm

SJ

That is a NICE set up you have engineered for starting seeds!!! I am very impressed, but as this is my first time at starting seeds I may as some dumb questions.

As for the brocolli, cabbage, and cauliflower how many sets of leaves are needed before ready to transplant? To date I only have the first set.

And you are in 6a and are starting tomatoes? I am in Pa and my last frost date is 4/30 so am I late and need to start them now? If this works it will save $$$$ than buying transplants IMHO

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/15/2012, 7:59 pm

Squat.........



As I mentioned in a previous post I like your shelves/seed starting set up. A few question though; how wide are your shelves? And I have only I light but you have two, does that help as I see my seedlings leaning and I have to move the tray around so they don't lean.

And do you start your seeds in vermiculite or in a cell; mel says either way will work but what works best for you?

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

Post  floyd1440 on 3/16/2012, 6:37 pm

Thanks for the info and I have rehung my light and it is now 3" from the highest plant and will continue to adjust it as they grow.

Am looking forward to see how they grow and will not this mistake going forward. May have to replant some of them but I will chalk it up as a rookie mistake.

I could not find any info in mels book though?

study

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Re: Tomato seedling issue

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