User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Agree, I don't think it makes sense to say light inhibits growth. With more light, plants will be growing more, not less. It's just that they will be growing wider, leafier, sturdier, not taller. Without light, they grow tall and spindly, trying to get to the light.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:04 pm
Location: Ohio

Royiah,
Hopefully your still following this thread.
First the replies you've received are all good solid info from experienced growers, or at least they read like well seasoned writers.

#1 tomato plants like soil to be a certain temperature, up here in SW Ohio we call it, they like their feet to be warm. So i often lay the leggiest starts on their sides & horizontal plant, since this is really at an angle the original root ball gets plenty deep. The depth allows the roots to reach for cooler moisture in the heat of summer. Often, I don't have time to water, daily. You likely won't have that issue in Louisiana.. If anything the ground may get too hot, I really don't know. I say plant yours vertically.

The things I like about tomato starts being looonngggg and leggy is this.
Plant growth will be determined by many factors, Not the least of these is access to nutrients. This one lesson I've had to learn and relearn , is the plants access to nutrients. Planting tomatoes so there is just the original small root ball and no stem(which grows more roots) in the ground, has been a disaster for me. i get fewer tomatoes and have to water way too often. I water once, twice, maybe 3 times a week. Too busy to be the daily guy.
So water access is huge, and shallow roots are a disaster in my experience.

The second thing about the long original stems and nutrient access is all the good stuff(N-P-K) and other essentials. Those long spindley stems have always produced the best for me. The short stocky ones just don't get the quick start like the long stem leading to huge root production for vibrant healthy plants. I'm looking for long stems and width of stem is less important than length, for high yield production.

If our starts are too short, we set them beneath a window with too little light just to increase the stem length. Stressing the plant like this, leads to enormous gains sooner. It only takes an extra 4-7 days to lengthen the stems. And they will take off like a rocket, once planted and moved outdoors into full sun.

PS. I rarely harden off. If so 2-3 days....90% of time they are ready to go and grow quickly.
IMHO

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

We are not totally telling you different things. Everyone has to figure out what works for them. I do harden my tomatoes off, partly because I put them out very early. I am often setting my tomatoes in the ground well BEFORE the average last frost date (since weather often warms up before then, even if it might have a cool snap later). Putting them out early, they really need the hardening. One of the things that happens with spindly leggy tomatoes is that I lose a lot of them in the hardening off process. The merest wrong wind or handling them wrong while moving them in and out and those spindly stems snap right in half. Oh well, gone seedling... The early start is how I am eating ripe tomatoes in June in Ohio.

(I also transport my tomato plants back and forth in a car several times, because a number of them get sold at my church plant sale, meaning lots more opportunities for the spindly ones to get snapped.)

But 2c is right that it helps to give tomato plants more root system. My tomato plants are transplanted three times: once moving them from being very crowded on heat mat to one per cell off the mat, once potting up, and once planting. Occasionally if they are started early, there's another time, moving from 3" pot to bigger pot. Each time they are transplanted, they are buried deeper than they were before. So even though they are sturdy and stocky, they have been given some extra root system that way.

And I have grown sturdy ones and leggy ones. I can tell you about the snapping in half, because I have experience with them getting leggy too. One year when I planted seeds too early, I ran out of room under the lights and tried putting some of the tomato seedlings on a window sill. Wow! They got amazingly tall and leggy almost over night! So not only was that the year a lot of them got snapped in half. But for me, the really leggy spindly ones got off to a very slow start compared to the sturdy ones, even after getting planted. I attributed that to having a lot less leaf surface than the better developed ones, to collect energy with, but that was just a theory. Might also be more of a system shock, all that stem put into soil that is still pretty chilly. But they did survive and grow into plants that were eventually pretty indistinguishable from any others.

So (sorry, this is turning into a book) in conclusion... if you are putting your tomatoes out later in the season, not needing as much hardening off, and putting them into warmer soil, the legginess may at least not make so much difference or cause harm and perhaps would give advantage, especially if you were comparing it to plants that had not been through the transplant three times routine.

Hope this helps make it all clearer.... Thanks everyone, for making me thinking this through in more detail, so I understand it better!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
Royiah
Senior Member
Posts: 207
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:36 pm
Location: Louisiana

Yes I am still following this thread 2c. 8) Went out to town today so havent been online allday!
I've learned so much from ya'll and I am very thankful for it. :wink:
Unfourtunately When I took my plants out the other day to harden them off the tallest ones snapped from the wind. :( I still have a few tall ones but not nearly as tall as the ones in the pics.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Yup, those spindly stems snap real easily! Also wind is killer to tender seedlings anyway. Even if they don't get snapped, they get dessicated. A windy day is not a good day to try hardening things off unless you have a pretty protected out of the wind spot for them.

But we all learned all of these things by hard one experience and do better each year! :)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:04 pm
Location: Ohio

Royiah,
Those tomatoes that snapped, I would put directly into the ground, deeper than the snap.... that part of the plant will grow roots as well.
One of the reasons, I do very little hardening off. Or place them up against a wall........I have used the outside wall & trash can as an inside corner & in the sun....given March winds.
The more stem in the ground the better.

RG, if that plant sale is in SW Ohio, I know a few guys who would be interested.........PM me if we can support your cause.

Return to “TOMATO FORUM”