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jal_ut
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Starting The Tomatoes

I can't start the tomatoes in the house because of my wife' allergies. I decided to try starting them out in a shed in the back yard that has a south window. There will be no heat, except I may put a light in it. Today is cold and temp at present is 35 degrees and we have had snow off and on all day. I don't think it will freeze in the shed though.

Perhaps I should get a 4 foot fluorescent double bulb fixture and hang above the table?

I am using small plastic cups about 3 inches diameter. These are picnic drinking cups, with a couple holes punched in the bottom. I am using bagged potting mix in the cups. I plan to let the plants stay in these cups till the day they are planted in the garden. No transplanting.

What I am wondering and want your input. Should I plant one or two seeds in each cup? If I plant two and both come up should I pull one out or let two grow together and plant two together in the garden? Have you ever tried two tomatoes close together like that?

Lately I have just been buying the starts I need, but someone gave me a couple pkgs of seed of varieties they wanted me to try. So I thought I would give it a whirl.

Comments?
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applestar
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

My thoughts --

I think overhead light fixture is a good idea. To get them to germinate in the cold, you would need a steady bottom heat source. But it would still be better to try to get them germinated and growing to true leaves in the house first with bottom heat and at least 50°F ambient temp -- maybe basement?

In the shed, if you could create an enclosed/tented mini environment, there won't be as much temperature loss -- but you probably have better idea of how that works. I found it makes a huge difference in my unheated garage to at least put some kind of cover across the front of the shelves (mine are set up against the insulated wall adjoining the house -- no windows) vs. not. And I tented the top with plastic sheeting draped over the light fixtures during the night while the lights were off when ambient garage temps plummeted below 28°F (with the entire set up covered with double layer of plastic, young tomato seedlings survived with bottom heat on through the night... did not without). If you set it up to create a thermal (up) draft across the seedlings, you can get away with relatively closely covered set up because of the air movement.

Presumably, when sun is shining in the window it can get pretty warm in the shed even without heat? As much as 50's-60's? If 40's the seedlings will not grow much and will turn purplish, 50's they will grow slowly but will develop sturdy stems with good light.

If you are not uppotting, only fill the cups 1/2 full to germinate then bury the stems (not lower leaves) as they grow (kind of like potato shoots). But put the light tubes directly above the cups when they are not getting sunlight. This works better with clear cups or cut off soda bottles because they get more light. Personally I like recycling the soda/clear bottles better because of the straight sides.

I like screening the bagged mix with 1/2" hole riddle and cutting the sifted bagged mix with some coir and perlite or sand for seed starting, then uppotting to bagged mix straight or mixed with 1/4 sand/perlite depending on how heavy the mix is. In addition to drainage holes, I have been cutting 3-4 vertical slits in the side of the cut off soda bottles and tall drinking cups with an utility knife for better root aeration.

...hope this works out for you because it's a lot of fun to grow different varieties of tomatoes! :D

...not surprisingly -- Yes I have tried keeping seedlings together. Typically one will overwhelm the other. Once planted outside, IF there is plentiful nutrients and water, they can find access to what they need, but if there is limited resources, again, one will bully the other and I have observed overwhelming difference in development to the point where the second one might as well be culled....
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lakngulf
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

Good luck with the tomato seed. I have no reservations that your plan will be a success.

Lights: My lights are on a timer, but I switch them to manual so they are own all night when our temps drop into the 30s. Not sure Alabama 30s are the same as Utah 30s, but my little plants need some extra warmth on those nights.

One or Two: I have done both. When I am really interested in germination rates, I just go one per cup or section. Lot of times I plant two, but put the seed as far apart as possible. I do transplant to five inch peat pots when the plants have their second set of leaves. At this time I separate the plants if two come up in same pot. I have never tried to grow two plants together, like I would cukes or squash or beans.
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applestar
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

Oh sorry just re-read and I think I commented on everything but what you asked.

Plain truth of the matter is if you put only one seed per cup, half of them won't germinate and if you put two in each cup every single one of them will germinate. :lol:
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jal_ut
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

^^^ Sounds about right! :)

I may wait a few days to see if this cold spell will get out of here. I'll put a thermometer in the shed to see just what the temps are doing. Once this stormy weather gets out of here, we will have daytime temps in the 60s.

Perhaps I will put one seed per pot on most and two in some to have a little backup?
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digitS'
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

James, I think you are going to have some fun.

You know, there are lots of varieties that you just cannot find as plants. Or, if you do, they have to be shipped from one side of the country to the other!

My tomatoes start off in the kitchen, where it is, at least, somewhat warm. As soon as they emerge from the soil, they have to go off where there is more light. Cooler temperatures will mean slower growth but you could still have some nice, sturdy (interesting) plants to set out.

Steve
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jal_ut
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

Its done. I will just wait and see if they will germinate. I did put the 4 foot 2 bulb neon light directly over them, close like six inches. Temperature last night was warmer. I have no doubt it will be warm in the shed in sunlight hours.

I did take some of the seed and am doing a germination test in the house to make sure the seed was good.
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PunkRotten
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Re: Starting The Tometoes

I always put 2-3 seeds per hole and then as they grow I keep only the best/healthiest looking ones. However, I started a few dwarf tomatoes and they all looked healthy so I decided to carefully separate them and it worked out in the end. I had a few extra plants and even gave a few away. I wouldn't try this with regular tomatoes though.

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applestar
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

How are they coming along?
Having posted the above, I decided to experiment, and started some tomato seeds loosely based on "wintersown" like this:
image.jpg
These are cap less 2L soda bottles with drainage holes cut open with 1" connected as a hinge. Soaked the potting mix then sowed I think 5-6 seeds in each, then casually taped them shut (a little gap for ventilation). I left these bottles out in the sun with no caps during the day, then brought them in at night -- in house temp around upper 60's. They were placed by the window with morning sun so they got a little boost right away.

Seeds were started on 4/3 and one bottle first germinated 4/9, the rest all germinated yesterday 4/10. :D
image.jpg
I'm going to leave them outside now day and night. We are actually having mild days right now 70's during the day, nights in the 40's some 50's but expecting upper to low 30's Tues-Thurs.

bottle tomato seedling incubator progress
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JayPoc
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

Really interesting. Do you have the ability to get a temp inside one of the bottles as it sits in full sunlight?

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Gary350
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I save old tomato plant 6 and 9 plant black plastic trays. Wet the soil, fill the trays, put in the seeds, then put the trays inside zip lock bags. It is a mini green house.

I keep these in the warmest place I can find inside the house. A warm window seal works great seeds are up in 2 or 3 days.

Once the seeds are up the zip lock bags come off and the plants go outside in full sun. If it is cold I put a fish aquarium upside down over the plant trays. I picked up a lot of fish aquariums $1 each at yard sales.

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bryce d
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I gave up on my tomatoes. Ether something went wrong or I was just to lazy to take care of them fully. I was going to do what jal_ut does and just buy the plants. Well so much for that.
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applestar
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

Sometimes it takes experimentation to figure out what works the best. Some of us get lucky with more suitable climate, etc.

My little science experiment look like this now:
image.jpg

JayPoc, I tucked a little thermometer inside one of the bottles, but of course the sun went behind the clouds shortly before I went out there, and then would not come back out.
image.jpg
But realize we've been having a mini heat wave for the last three days -- we could "almost" use the air conditioning on. Looking out the window, it's sunny out now :roll: So, the base station in the kitchen for the patio remote sensor, which is in the sun right now, reads 92°F. The real test will be tomorrow night (Do you think I should bring them inside? Or should we sacrifice them to scientific curiosity? :twisted: )
image.jpg

-----
I don't know if you all want me to continue with this here -- I can split my little experiment off to another thread if you prefer. link to further bottle tomato seedling incubator progress
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jal_ut
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

Good to go here. Right on topic and neat to see what others are doing.

My seed has been slow to germinate. Can't say yet if I will have any success. Give it some more time I guess?

We have had a run of cool weather. Even the radishes I planted out ten days ago have not germinated yet.
Last edited by jal_ut on Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RobinM
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I just seeded about 30 tomatoes of different varieties myself. I put 2-3 in each cup and took scissors and cut off the least healthy ones, once they were about 2 inches tall. I wouldn't "pull" them out, as that may disturb the roots of the ones you are keeping. Just clip them off and toss them. Good luck!
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applestar
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I wanted to remind myself of this possibility, though I think I have enough seedlings started this year, I may adapt this to put them outside earlier than would be possible 8)

Subject: Starting The Tomatoes
applestar wrote:How are they coming along?
Having posted the above, I decided to experiment, and started some tomato seeds loosely based on "wintersown" like this: Image These are cap less 2L soda bottles with drainage holes cut open with 1" connected as a hinge. Soaked the potting mix then sowed I think 5-6 seeds in each, then casually taped them shut (a little gap for ventilation). I left these bottles out in the sun with no caps during the day, then brought them in at night -- in house temp around upper 60's. They were placed by the window with morning sun so they got a little boost right away.

Seeds were started on 4/3 and one bottle first germinated 4/9, the rest all germinated yesterday 4/10. :D
image.jpg
I'm going to leave them outside now day and night. We are actually having mild days right now 70's during the day, nights in the 40's some 50's but expecting upper to low 30's Tues-Thurs.

bottle tomato seedling incubator progress
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jal_ut
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

WOW! My old thread got resurrected? Guess I should report?
I did get some tomato starts from my efforts out in the shed and they did well when moved out into the plot. It turned out well enough that I am doing it again this season. Have some small tomatoes up out in the shed now and some more seeds planted. We have had a cool though sunny season here so they seem to be doing OK. Not very large yet. May 5 is planting out in the garden date for these parts, so they still have time to grow?
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Taiji
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I just started tomatoes (among other things) in flats a few days ago. This year I'm using 4 or5 seeds of each thing in each cell just to be sure some germinate! The reason I'm planting so many is that some of my seeds are 2 or 3 yrs. old. That way, surely something will come up! Eventually, I will thin to just one plant per cell. It's really easy when you just snip off the unwanted seedling with scissors, that nips them in the bud. Better than pulling them out and disturbing the roots of the adjoining plant you wanna keep.

I just noticed today that some of the cells are getting a little mold on the soil surface. So, I took off the little dome that came with the kit. You have to be so careful when creating an airtight environment when sprouting I've found. Wondering if I should mist the moldy cells with a little baking soda water? Maybe it will kill the seeds and sprouted plants too? Baking soda kills mold, no?
Last year for the first time I used a gro lite setup with heat mat as I learned from this forum! It was the best success I ever had at seed starting. Thank you! Too bad I lost so many cabbage, broccoli, and peppers when I set them out in the garden. Nothing bothered the tomatoes tho. I suspect cutworms, not sure! Gotta fix that this year!
Dan

Taiji
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Re: Starting The Tomatoes

I didn't realize this was an old thread either! Some subjects are always pertinent though.

To answer my own question, I remembered that sunlight kills mildew and mold really quick, so I took the whole seed flat outside to sit in the bright sun for a couple of hours, that should do it.

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