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jasbo
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Arrested development? Why are Tomatoes Looking Sad?

The tomatoes I started from seed 4 1/2 weeks ago are kind of sad looking. They are only 1 to 2 inches and are just starting to develop tiny true leaves. The true leaves are dwarfed by the seed leaves, which seem to be pointing almost straight upward.

Initially, they probably didn't get much light. Now, they're getting plenty of light, but some of it is by being outside in cool temps (never below 40 or so, but cool for tomatoes). I have some pepper plants that have shared a similar environment all along, and they're doing quite well.

There is a chance they've had more water than they need (hard to be perfect on that) but not much chance they've been too dry.

Can anyone hazard a guess why they look so sad? I wouldn't think they need to be transplanted yet. They're in one of those 72-cell Jiffy trays.

P.S.: I wish I could drop in a picture, but at this point I don't have the tech savvy and equipment to take and post a picture. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer.

Jim

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I'll start here and maybe others will follow.
Can anyone hazard a guess why they look so sad? I wouldn't think they need to be transplanted yet. They're in one of those 72-cell Jiffy trays.
I don't like using small starter cells. I even tried 50 cell trays. :( I feel that 4" pots are a more stable environment. More soil keeps a more even keel on moisture and temperature. Small cells require more frequent watering witch raises or lower temperature and erratic dry to wet soils.

I also up pot before true leaves.


Eric

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Arrested development? Why are Tomatoes Looking Sad?

jasbo wrote:The tomatoes I started from seed 4 1/2 weeks ago are kind of sad looking. They are only 1 to 2 inches and are just starting to develop tiny true leaves. The true leaves are dwarfed by the seed leaves, which seem to be pointing almost straight upward.

Initially, they probably didn't get much light. Now, they're getting plenty of light, but some of it is by being outside in cool temps (never below 40 or so, but cool for tomatoes). I have some pepper plants that have shared a similar environment all along, and they're doing quite well.

There is a chance they've had more water than they need (hard to be perfect on that) but not much chance they've been too dry.

Can anyone hazard a guess why they look so sad? I wouldn't think they need to be transplanted yet. They're in one of those 72-cell Jiffy trays.

P.S.: I wish I could drop in a picture, but at this point I don't have the tech savvy and equipment to take and post a picture. Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer.

Jim
Wow, so many choices!
  • *You said now they are getting enough light. Are you sure? Generally seedlings need lights just a couple inches above them that are on 16 hrs a day.

    *Some of the light is from being outdoors. That sounds like some of it isn't, i.e. they are being moved in and out? That is hard on little plants, constantly trying to adapt to changing conditions. I do a bit of in and out with my plants when they are going to get moved out doors, to harden them off, but they are over a foot tall and sturdy by then.

    *Maybe too much water? Too much water is the main destroyer of seedlings, way more than too little. How are you watering? I have all my cells/ pots in trays and only bottom water - pour a little water in the bottom of the tray for the plants to soak up.

    *40 degree temps. Tomatoes like warm. I start my tomato seeds on a heat mat. After they have one or two pair of true leaves they come off the heat pad, but the warmth really helps them get going.

    *And last being in the little cells. I leave that to last, because my tomato seedlings do stay in the little cells at least until they get their first true leaves. They do fine that way. But you wouldn't want to leave them there much longer than that, because it is a very restricted amount of soil. I transplant them to 3" pots once they have a pair or two of true leaves.
You've been really hard on those poor little seedlings!
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jasbo
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Re: Arrested development? Why are Tomatoes Looking Sad?

rainbowgardener wrote: You've been really hard on those poor little seedlings!
I suppose so, though I think I made some things sound worse than they were just to make sure I got all the possibilities out there.

Most of the time they spent outdoors was during the day at 50 degrees or so in a mini-greenhouse. That was because I didn't have any indoor lights at the time. Now I have a simple indoor light setup, but I have two flats that are sharing it. I think I'll just leave the tomatoes-and-peppers flat there for a while (figuring the lettuce and peas in the other flat can deal with the outdoors better) and hope for the best.

Thanks for the honest assessment. I'll try not to abuse the little guys anymore.

Jim

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jasbo
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Quick update in case anyone's interested. I transplanted from the 72-cell tray to 3 and 4 inch pots April 10. Eight days later they are doing great. I really didn't think their roots were getting crowded in those little cells, but moving into bigger quarters seemed to do wonders.

Jim

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