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New to tomatoes

I started my seeds inside and they're now about 2-3 inches long but with only the first 2 leaves that pop up. I've been putting them outside the last couple of days and now they're standing up(I had them in the little container with the plastic lid and the directions said to prop the lid and wait until they all sprouted before removing the lid and taking them outside for a while).

What on earth am I supposed to do next? Am I supposed to be watering them? I haven't because I was afraid they'd get moldy or something. I honestly have no idea what to do because my husband tossed the directions from the plastic container package. I do know at some point when there are a second set of leaves, I "thin" the seedlings and plant the strongest. I have no idea how to a) thin or b) tell which ones are strongest. They all look the same to me!

I have cherry tomatoes and slices tomatoes. And I did label so I know which are which. :)

Thanks for any help!!
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Posts: 38
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Northern illinois

I did the same thing this year for the first time. My problem was I let them grow too long before thinning them out and the roots got all intertrwined. It's really easy to thin them basically you are looking for the more vibrant or larger seedling to save. Not sure what medium you started these in but when i split mine i just pulled the dirt plug from the tray laid it on its side and gently tore it apart trying to save as many roots off of each plant as i could. Do not grab the plant by the stem it's better to grab it from the top. I was amazed at how many of mine survived because i started 5 plants in 1 inch square pods and the roots were a mess! Ditch the top you don't need that once the seeds pop. Keep the dirt moist but not soaked! I use 50% jiffy mix and 50% dirt to transplant them to. I find this growing medium easier to keep moist. Wish you luck. I think you will be suprised at your survival ratio if you try to save them all, these plants are hardier than you think.
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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

If they have sprouted, I'd get rid of the lid, which is basically only for germinating the seeds. Once the lid is gone, yes you do want to be watering them. Never let the soil get completely dry, but don't let it be soggy or waterlogged.

They want lots of light. If your temperatures are such that you can be keeping them outdoors, that is best, because then the true leaves that come will start out adapted to sun light and you won't have to worry so much about hardening off.

If you are thinning, you can just snip the ones that you aren't keeping off at the soil line with a little scissors. Or you can get some little pots, and gently pull the seedlings apart from each other and repot them into their own pots. But that's if you have room to plant all the tomato plants you will end up with. Otherwise, just snip!
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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: Mid Ohio

When the first true leaves get pretty well started (1/2" long or more) it will be time to pot up into a 3"-4" diameter pot. You can either take the whole soil plug or bare root seedling (if you separated several from the seed pot) and plant it deep in the new pot. Plant it up to the seedling leaves if you can. This will make for a more stable seedling and better root development. Water the new pot well and give moderate light for a day or two before putting outside into harsh light and high air movement.

Other than snipping seedlings to thin them or tearing up a whole root ball, you can also take a sharp knife and cut individual root plugs out of a starter pot. I do this when I start multiple seeds in a small pot and several are late to come up. I just cut the ones out that need to be potted up and fill in the hole with potting mix. Tomato and pepper seedlings are tough at this stage.

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