wind
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Started seeds close together, now they've grown, now what?

Hello everyone,

This is my first post and I'm a rookie!

So in my rookieness, and excitement, (and a wee bit of experimenting) I planted my tomato seeds kind of close together.

Now I have two situations:

1) Plants all sprouted up from one spot. Three or four stems all bursting from the one spot.

2) Four stems growing in a square formation, spaced about an inch apart.

Does it make sense to try to seperate them? Or should I just transplant them as one?

With the 1st situation they're all really close, so I think that could do some damage to try to pull them apart.

The 2nd situation they have some space, but I'm still wondering if transplanting each one would just shock them and rip the roots apart.

Aside from that the plants are doing well. Their both heirlooms, started inside (in south facing, but less than ideal light) and significantly healthier than the regular tomato plants that are starting to wilt and sag.

anyway, thanks for your help!

ps. This is a great forum. I've been reading around and learning a lot.

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Gnome
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wind,

It is not uncommon to start seeds in communal pots/flats and transplant them into individual pots later. I never get them as close as your closest ones though. You may also be a little late to re-pot them and still get good growth afterward.
1) Plants all sprouted up from one spot. Three or four stems all bursting from the one spot.
You could simply cut all but one away. This assumes you have enough to satisfy your needs.
2) Four stems growing in a square formation, spaced about an inch apart.
You can grow them out, as is, and cut them apart when you set them out. If you had more time they could easily be cut apart and potted up but it is probably too late to employ the extra step. I guess it depends upon how big they are and how long before you anticipate setting them out.

Welcome to The Helpful Gardener.

Norm

wind
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thanks Norm
I guess it depends upon how big they are and how long before you anticipate setting them out.
They currently reach up to about 6 or 7 inches. I'll bury the stems as much as I can though when I transplant.

It'll probably be awhile before I really set them out. Might harden them off here and there. But I'm up in Canada, near the arctic circle! Just jokin', though it does feel that way sometimes. Actually I guess it would be zone3 - there's some hot and sunny bursts, but won't really start to warm up until June.

These tomatoes are doing pretty good, they look great, they smell great, so I would like to keep them happy, avoid any major disruptions, roll with them and hopefully they'll taste great.

thanks for the advice

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Gnome
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wind,
They currently reach up to about 6 or 7 inches...It'll probably be awhile before I really set them out...won't really start to warm up until June.
Then I would definitely divide group #2 and pot them up, transplanting them deeper as you noted. Cut them apart with a knife and they should be fine.

Since you have a fair amount of time you can probably separate group #1 with care. Why not try one cell/group and see how it goes.

Norm

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rainbowgardener
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separate seedlings

Definitely to plant them you need to get them separated. None of them will do very well at all if you tried to plant them close together like that. If you take the clump out and soak the roots in water for a few minutes, you should be able to gently pull them apart. In future years, you would usually want to separate them sooner. I plant seeds crowded, but then spread them out to one per little cell once they have their first true leaves. Then plant them in 3" pots once they have a few more sets of leaves or start looking crowded.

TZ -OH6
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Not a problem at all. Saturate/submerge the pots in water for 15 minutes and then remove the rootball and pull the plants apart. Don't worry if most of the roots get torn off of some of the plants. Then pot them deep in the new pots. Due to the size of your seedlings, rather than use something like a short 3" pot I would use something deeper like plastic or styrofoam drink cups with holes poked in the bottom. I would fill with potting mix and then stick my finger all the way down into it and make a hole, then stick the bare root seedling all the way down into the hole. Sit these new cups in deep water to hydrate and then keep them under lights for a couple of days before putting them back outside into the sun and wind.

wind
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Thanks everyone. Great advice.

I guess some of my trepidation here is that I'm now thinking "Ok, I had a like 10 plants... now I'm going to have 40 or 50 plants in my kitchen window, kitchen sink, counter, stove, table, floor..."

I'll probably need to get a light for them, since I'm running out of space in the sunny spot.

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jal_ut
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How many pots do you have?
How many plants do you need?
If the answer is about the same for both questions, just thin them. Keep the best plant in the pot and clip off the others at ground level.

Tomatoes can be easily transplanted and seperated when about 2 inches tall, but at 6 inches, the roots will all be intertwined and you may or may not get them separated.

When planting tomatoes I put one seed in most of the pots and 2 seed in a few. Later I can transplant one of the doubles into a pot where the one seed didn't come up. I end up with one plant per pot. I use Solo cups for pots, just punch a hole in the bottom.

Have a great garden!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

TZ -OH6
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After I pot them up my plants go outside during the day, even the shade is brighter than fluorescent lights. I bring them in to stay warm at night, but if I didn't have floor space for them I would leave them out as long as low temps stayed above 40. I just keep them protected from wind and sun for the first couple of days to let new root hairs grow so that they can handle the harsher conditions outside. You wouldn't have to put them under lights, outside in protected conditions would work too.

If you pot up twice as many as you need all of them will survive, but if you pot up the exact number you need half will die. Its subsection 26.3 of Murphy's Law.

Timlin
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Location: Zone 3 Canada

I'm in zone 3 in NW Ontario, my tomatoes are outside right now toughening up. I take them in each evening before it cools off too much and out again the next day once it's warmed up a bit.

It's going to snow here on Friday and Saturday so I'll keep them inside both days and not put them back out till it warms up a wee bit.

I do agree that if you soak the rootball well you can just pull them gently apart (don't hold them by the stems though.......hold them by a leaf as you pull them apart. If you break the stem your plant is done.)

Then transplant them in 1/2 gallon milk boxes (the paper/wax ones) they are tall and the plants can go deeper without using up huge amounts of soil. Be sure to cut holes in the bottom for good drainage though.

Sounds like you're going to enjoy a yummy summer treat!

wind
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Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 9:26 pm

Thanks again everyone.

Got them to pull apart nice & easy (soaking them in water was a big help), potted them up, buried the stems and things are looking good.


cheers!



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