aqh88
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tomatos from seed

I've failed 3 years in a row to grow tomatos from seed. This year I tried to grow supersweet 100 and they came out with thin stems that eventually fell over. They also didn't really grow at all and after about 2months most still only have 2 leaves. Last year I used soilless seed starter and hated it so this year I used some Iowa topsoil mixed with some very well composted horse manure from a 10year old pile in front of the stable. The garden uses that same mix of soil and the tomatos my mom bought already started grew great so I thought it would work better for starting them as well. I set them on a section of tile in the house that curves out to the west. It has 3 full length south facing windows, 1 angled to the west, and 1 angled to the east. Everything else grew great and I have more bell pepper plants than I know what to do with but the tomatos still weren't happy. Do they actually need more light or what am I doing wrong? I'm stubborn so year 4 of attempted tomato growing will happen one way or another.

opabinia51
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Hmmm, I'm not sure what's going on there.

If you can buy it at a local nursery try starting the seeds in compost. That is what a local organic nursery does and they have great tomatoes every year. I personally use potting soil with manure.

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Grey
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I'm wondering if there;s maybe not enough light somehow? I know you described your growing situation but something isn't right. If your mom is growing tomatoes fine out of the same medium, it's water, or light. I think.

aqh88
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She's not starting them from seed though but still the little tomato plants she bought shot up and had an amazing amount of tomatos. We gave away 5 or 6 grocery sacks full of extra tomatos so I would think the seedlings would like the soil just as well as the already started plants. :?

Maybe I'll grab a pack of cheap tomato seeds from walmart and experiment with them over the summer. If I put a light over them how much do I need to make a difference?

opabinia51
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What is your watering regime like?

A light might help though, it sounds like they get plenty of light as it is. You'd want to use a grow light though.

Don't buy the cone shapes ones because they don't last very long.

aqh88
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I have plenty of extra fluorescent bulbs intended for aquarium plants that are at least full spectrum with some equivalent to the reddish/purplish gro lights sold for nonaquatic plants. They are from 10watts up to 40watts so depends what I need.

Most of the time I use growing trays with the plastic greenhouse top that holds in moisture so after planting I fill it up with water, set it in the warm sunlight next to the windows, and don't bother them until they sprout. Then a few days to a week after they sprout I take the top off and water them maybe 3times a week or whenever the top of the soil doesn't look at least damp. It works great for the peppers every year and this year I also had squash, spearmint, lavender, 2 types of cilantro, basil, and marigold flowers that grew very well. It's just the tomatos that aren't happy.

opabinia51
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This is indeed perplexing. Your watering regime sounds fine so, there must be something else that is wrong. You have said that you buy the cheapest potting soil. Try ammending it with some compost and/or mushroom manure. I use the combination of the two.

Wendakai
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tomatoes from seed

Hi. It sounds as if your tomatoes don't get enough light. Without enough light, they will be spindly and leggy. I don't have ideal conditions for growing tomatoes either, but I do... from seed. I start them in a plug pack (12 plugs under plastic). They should be warm for this stage, and as soon as they bud out, you should remove the plastic lid, or they will get spindly looking for more light. Place them in sunlight... a south, south-east window is best. The more sunlight, the better. Tomatoes require daily water, but they should be moist, as opposed to wet.

If your growing conditions aren't ideal, they will likely get a little leggy as they grow. One way of dealing with this is to transplant them into deeper containers as they grow.... like clean cardboard coffee cups! Those little bumps on the bottom of the stem are where new root systems will grow once they're below soil. So when you harden your plants to the outdoors and plant them, remember to plant the leggy ones on a slant, not straight down into the soil. So remove the bottom leaves and put a whole bunch of that leggy stem under soil. It's ok if your tomato plant starts its garden life laying down.... it will quickly turn up toward the sun. Meanwhile, those bumps on the bottom of the stem will drop into the earth and become roots, strengthening your plant.

Also, the variety of tomato you choose will make a difference. If you start with seeds for Subarctic Plenty, for instance, they tend to be short, full tomato plants that don't get leggy easily. Start your Sweeties a little later in the season (late March) so they get more light and are less likely to be spindly.

I hope this helps you have more success growing tomatoes from seed.
<i><font size = 5> Wendakai</i></font>

garden_mom
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The best success I had with starting my own tomatoes from seed was when I planted them directly into the garden. I put the seed in at about the second week of April. I am in zone 6b, so it was our annual 'warm up' to the 60's. (F.) I cut the bottoms off of two liter bottles of cola and kept the lids on, making my own cloches (cheap and free after you or someone else drinks the cola). I took the lids off (not the closches) during the day as long as the temperature stayed above 50 F., then put them back on as soon as shade hit the garden. This will work if you have the time and self-discipline to be out in the garden at least two or three times a day for a few minutes. The seeds must be kept moist, of course, so that means taking off all of the cloches to water two or three times a day until they've gotten some good roots, then at least one good soak a day until they're a little older. Your only way around it is a soaker hose. I was able to take the cloches off once the temps stayed above 45 or 50 degrees F. at night, and the tomatoes were nice little plants, about 6 weeks. Doing this I was able to 1) have any type of tomatoe that I wanted without being slave to the local nursury, and 2) Have homegrown organic tomatoes just as early as my SIL, who bought hers at the nursury, and then lost most of them to disease, while the rest were sub-par. She ended up taking a lot of mine! :lol:
I don't actually eat the tomatoes, I make sauce out of them and I give a lot away. I love the pleasure I get from growing them (Look, honey! Me and God made a Tomatoe!), and from seeing how happy people are when they receive them as gifts (this is especially so when they find out that they are organic). So it may sound like a lot of work, but for people with no room inside to start seed, or those with not enough light, or who don't want to replant, this WILL work if you do it right.

Wendakai
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I usually start my tomatoes in March indoors. It's usually a little cold here for the way you do it, but you know, it actually wasn't this year. The coldest week we had after March 21st was in mid-May. I think your idea is great! It's an easy variation on the cold-frame concept. I think I may save my 2 litre (is that the size?) pop bottles next winter in case we get another early, temperate spring. ;) I'll still start some tomatoes indoors in March, but if the snow is gone and I can work the soil by mid-April, I think I'll try some your way... either seeds or perhaps tiny plants... and see what happens. :)
<i><font size = 5> Wendakai</i></font>

garden_mom
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Try it with seed, it's a very triumphant feeling when you do it! :D
Yes, I used two liter bottles. I'm not sure where you're located, but where I am we will still get frost advisories well into May. The pop bottles worked great keeping the baby plants protected. It felt like me against nature, and I won! :lol:

Wendakai
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I'm in central Ontario. Two years ago we had frost into June, but this year we had an early Spring. I guess it's a bit of a crap shoot, but as you say, it's passing cool if I can plant seed outdoors and have them develop well. ;) So seed it is... I'm going to give a try. The worst that can happen is failure. And hey, I might really like the success. :)
<i><font size = 5> Wendakai</i></font>

Richard_a
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I've never tried growing tomatoes myself, but i heard they can be quite picky in terms of the specific conditions they need to grow properly.

i always try to grow plants from small - medium sized plants which can be bought at nursaries before attempting to grow them from seeds, and
see how it works out.
then i go for the seeds.

opabinia51
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I've found it very easy to grow tomatoes from seed and have found a greater variety of seed than plants in nurseries or grocery stores.

tshelley
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Tomato seedlings need around 16-18 hours of light daily and at this time of year a window is not nearly enough .. Use grow lights and keep the seedlings about 2 inches from the lights to keep from getting too spindly. My first attempt last year I used a 6" suggestion but that didn't work as well the second set Istarted after seeing the 2" guideline

pixelphoto
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Does anyone have any good guidelines or a website with pics on how to start your tomato seeds. Or a website. I too have had problems this year I have bought seeds from two different places and I got 3 seedlings out of probably 50 seeds. Not very good odds in my opinion.
Any help is much appreciated.

nan1234
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Tempreture is the key

What is your room tempreture? Tomato seedings need at least 80F. If the tempreture is lower than that, roots will develop very slowly. If you get lava of fungus gnats (which are common) in the soil, they will eat the tiny roots in a faster speed than the tomato can grow. Enventually, your tomato will stop growing or die gradually.

This year, I made a large glass tank with a ceremic heating system to keep the tempreture in 80F. I also used Scan Mask in soil for killing the fungus gnat lava. I did not use extra light. My tomato seedlings of various kinds have been very healthy so far.

opabinia51
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I've found that about 8 to 12 hours of light suffices and I use grow lights on shelves in my house.

Window sills are definately not adequate and I agree with you there. I have used window sills for various plants in the past but, they do pose a threat to plants, especially perennials that are kept in window sills. I would think that something as tender as a seedling would be equally vulnerable to the vast temperature shifts that occur in window sills as well.

Anyway, a good grow light works best and you can buy little apparatie that clamp onto shelves and what not to screw the light bulbs into. I have tried the conical shaped bulbs and found that they only last a few days. The regular incandescent bulbs last a very long time, I have had my current bulb going constantly for a couple of months now and I still is going strong.

GhostShadow147
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tomato from seed

I can't say what the problem is, but i think it's from a lack of some nutrient. i would suggest adding 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water and feed that to the plant. if that doesn't work, :evil:

ml2620
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts

Seedlings not growing!

I'm in my first year of growing beefstakes and cherry tomatoes from seed (at the moment, I don't remember the varieties). I have lots of interest, but little experience gardening.

The seeds came up well, planted 3/11 in organic garden starting soil and kept in a plastic covered seed starter in the south facing window sill. I noticed some whiteness in the soil, recognized it as a little mold growth and removed the lid on the seed starter to dry it out in late March- and I just water carefully now.

But in the last few weeks they just aren't pushing up, and while they have gone from two to four leaves, they are still about 2 inches high. Is this unusual for seedlings to have a dormant phase or is something wrong? If something is wrong, can the seedlings be salavaged or will I need to buy starters this year?

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atascosa_tx
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ml2620..as soon as the seedlings come up, remove the plastic cover..which ya did..ambient temps affect seedlings..4 leaves is about the time to introduce them outside at short intervals..to harden them off..put a fan on them to stimulate the roots and stems to grow stronger.
NOTE..keep outside time to a minimum as not to burn the tender leaves..
try a lil shade and a lil sun..

happy gardening.

Trentt
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This year I tried winter sowing my tomatoes and I suspect I will have a bumper crop.

I took 2-liter plastic soda bottles, about 1/3 the way down I cut through the plastic, nearly all the way around but not quite (leaving a "hinge"), punched holes in the bottom, added potting soil, planted my seeds, sealed the incision back up with packing tape, watered well, and put the containers outside ... in February.

The seedlings know when it's time to sprout. I kept my winter-sown containers in a 2-flat arrangement -- a flat with holes nestled in a flat without holes. This allowed me to bottom-water them. It also allowed me to lift out the first flat (with holes) if it rained a lot and I needed to drain the containers.

Last weekend I planted them (most of them anyway ... I ended up with over 50 seedlings so will give the rest away), carefully removing each seedling from its soda bottle and transplanting as usual. No hardening off required, since they've lived their entire lives outdoors. The cold Spring temperatures have prevented any significant growth spurt so far, but once we have consistently warmer conditions I'm sure they'll take off.

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