Gardener123
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Suggestions for seedlings that have grown too big?

I have all my plants under one light fixture. I started all of them form seeds no earlier than 6 weeks ago. The fixture is a 5 lamp T5 light. The lamp is about 2' above the table on which it sits.

Some plants I started only 3 - 4 weeks ago. And some others I just started about 12 days ago, and a couple are already 10" tall.

My tomatoes and pepper plants are GIGANTIC for being about 6 weeks old. Meanwhile, I have lots of other plants that can still use being under the lamp for 2 more weeks - which is when I generally plant everything, about May 15th.

I can't raise the fixture because it would be too high for the shorter plants. Some of these tomato plants are getting close to 2' tall, while some plants are only a few inches tall. I have been putting the bigger plants outside for several hours a day when the weather is nice. I plan to start hardening off the rest of the plants this weekend.

The tomato plants seem to be wanting even more light, as do some of my peppers.

I am contemplating planting them, covering them in almost a mini greenhouse - home made PVC boxes with the UV film. Sound like a good idea? Heck I just looked and 2 of the pepper plants are already flowering, and I think I see the beginnings of flowers on some of the tomato plants.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Suggestions for seedlings that have grown too big?

6 weeks old and 2 feet tall sounds like very leggy. For some reason, even though it sounds like plenty of light, your tomatoes are acting like they aren't getting enough light. I will say my tomatoes started doing that at the end. When they were small seedlings they were doing great, staying compact and sturdy, but they started stretching out more as they got bigger. I think the bigger the plant probably the more light it needs.

I would get them outside. It's May. Even if you don't want to put them in the ground yet, surely you could be bringing them out to start hardening off. They will do better in part sun outdoors than directly under the lights. And then of course when you do put them in the ground, bury your tomatoes deep.
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Gardener123
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Re: Suggestions for seedlings that have grown too big?

That's the thing..... they aren't leggy at all. They are in great shape...... maybe it was the varieties? Maybe just excellent soil? I have never seen stuff do this before. I have so many tomatoes that I may put a few in the ground today, after my bag of worm casings comes from amazon. Some of them are so tall that they touched the lamps and burned a few leaves. :(

Now, some of my pepper plants do seem a bit leggy, but not so bad that they can't get corrected.


I have a shell for my greenhouse that I made last year, and I have plenty of plastic to re-cover it, but I don't think I want to do that.... I plan to grow things up the sides of it, as it is made with cattle panel. Should be great for beans, cukes, and peas..... even planning on trying a tomato plant or two that way.

TY, RG.
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applestar
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Re: Suggestions for seedlings that have grown too big?

Starting seeds early to grow to transplant size is a delicate balance between timing, growth rate, and indoor vs. outdoor temperatures. When your indoor space is limited, you want to grow them just enough to be healthy and stocky but not so they are outgrowing the space too early and possibly getting stressed.

If they are not leggy due to insufficient light, then I would conclude that it's actually better not to over fertilize, which might be what you did this time.

Even grown whimpy, once they are planted in good soil -- in the ground or container for the season, the seedlings will take off in leaps and bounds. What you could do is grow a few special varieties with extra "love" uppotting into large containers and with dedicated light fixtures, then those will be the weeks ahead of the others once planted out.

For these overgrown ones, if the temperaturs are still iffy in your area, try planting them out using those wall-o-water protectors or plan on covering them with gallon jug hot caps, overturned buckets, tubs, etc.

Unless they are well protected, daily highs in the 40-50's and dips into high 30's - low 40's will seriously set them back -- I tried that before (inadequately) protecting with plastic kitchen bags and dry cleaner bags over small tomato cages and that didn't work. Only the ones protected with wall-o-waters did well. But I find they need 24" spacing and are a bear to weed inside. Some people wrap CRW cages with double layer of plastic sheeting.
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Gardener123
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Re: Suggestions for seedlings that have grown too big?

applestar wrote:....... Some people wrap CRW cages with double layer of plastic sheeting.
I can do that..... I just know that they are crazy big, and really, I am ill prepared to keep them inside at this point. Fortunately, and you live in the same zone I do, the weather looks decent as far as temps go for the next 10 days..... not great, but decent. I will start with some tomatoes, as I have more than I can use....

The variety of tomato I am mostly talking about is Black Mammoth. Who knew that "mammoth" meant the size of the plants? :>
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