Bobby_123
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Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Hi.

I planted some tomato seeds about 6 weeks ago and they are growing on quite well but I am unsure of the next step.

I think I may have made a mistake early on by sewing a whole packet of seeds into a 6" pot. I now have about 20-30 stems sprouting out of a very small container. I was wondering should I just pick the strongest, biggest one and focus on that or leave it as it is for now. Also when should I use plant feeder?

Your help would be appreciated!

JayPoc
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Re: Beginner. Need help!!

Hmm. I assume you're planning on planting in some tomatoes in the ground some where once they get bigger? (a six inch pot is too small for even 1 tomato for more than the first few weeks)

How many do you need for the ground? I'd thin your pot down to about 4 plants by snipping off the others. Then in a couple days, carefully transplant each remaining plant into something like a solo cup. Gently dig them out as deep and wide as you can. Then, get them into the ground whenever the threat of frost has passed and they've been hardened off.

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Also, by "plant feeder", I assume you mean some sort of fertilizer? liquid or granules?

Bobby_123
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Great stuff thanks! Yeah I mean liquid or granules

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Bobby_123 wrote:Great stuff thanks! Yeah I mean liquid or granules
Well, they work differently. Most of the granules would be used by mixing some of the granules in with the soil at planting. The liquids are usually diluted and added every so often when watering. Basically you'll just want to follow package directions with whatever you go with.

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Ok. That's great for now. Thanks a lot for your help :D

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Bobby_123 wrote:Ok. That's great for now. Thanks a lot for your help :D
Post a picture if you can. The seedlings may be large enough that you can gently ease some of them out with a knife or spoon, and plant them in individual small pots.

Mine start off in flats similar to this one.
Image

And are transferred into these pots once the second set of leaves are showing. Many times I have more than one seedling in a compartment, and if all are healthy, I gently separate them and put in larger pots.
Image
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I'll get a pic later but they stand about 5/6" already

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applestar
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Next step is to give them a lot if light. :D

It's not so much their height as what's growing -- at first pair of seed leaves (cotyledons), they are still delicate and only has a single long taproot. Unless their re touching each other, they won't be competing much.

Once they start growing their true leaves, the roots will begin to branch and tangle with each other. Usually, it's better to wait until this point to manipulate them. So any that are growing too close together to root wrestle should be culled to stronger/strongest looking by clipping with nail or embroidery scissors.

If they are about 1/2" apart, they can be separated. I find it easiest to dump the lot (slide the soil and seedlings out by tipping and quick jerk/pull motion while supporting the top of the soil with fingers of other hand) and spread them apart rather than digging them up. But I don't use those cells that are connected -- they drive me crazy (Mostly using soilblocks now).
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

This is how it looks now
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Yeah, thats about how I imagined it from your initial post. If somebody dropped that off at my doorstep, I'd proceed as I said in my first reply. I'm not sure you could successfully separate that tangled mess. Whatever you do, when you re-pot them, use a tall container and bury them as deep as you can...right up to within an inch or two of the first sets of leaves.

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

JayPoc wrote:Yeah, thats about how I imagined it from your initial post. If somebody dropped that off at my doorstep, I'd proceed as I said in my first reply. I'm not sure you could successfully separate that tangled mess. Whatever you do, when you re-pot them, use a tall container and bury them as deep as you can...right up to within an inch or two of the first sets of leaves.
I agree. They are definitely ready for another pot, a deep pot. And using the dump out and separate method I think you can save a lot of plants, depending on how many you want.

When I was young my parents would start seed like this, give them plenty of light, and they grew strong. They would only separate them at planting time, putting the strongest/healthiest ones in the garden
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I think I'll take your advice and save the 4 strongest and re-pot them in larger pots. Also the plant is attracting a few small flies. Are they harmful? If so, what can I do to deter them?

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

If you want to keep 4 then SAVE 6. :wink:
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

This video shows how to separate all those little plants safely and have almost all live. You can give your extras to friends or even sell em for $3 each.this will be a paradigm shift for most I think, and so worth the time to watch. IMHO :)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nLbeZEcz3sw
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I managed to rescue 3. How to they look?
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

They look OK, still a little spindly. Give them as much light as you can-- full sun once they are hardened off to it. The next time you repot them, really bury them deep, all the way up to the first true leaves. If they are staying in pots, then eventually they will need to be in pots at least the size of 5 gallon buckets.

Have you told us where you are? Much of the US, it is either time to start bringing them out to harden off (I'm bringing mine out for the first time today) or will be soon.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I'm in Yorkshire in England. It's not the hottest place on earth but there has been plenty of sun recently and my house has long windows that stretch across 2 floors so light has not been a problem.

I think I underestimated just how tall they were when buying new pots. How long before it is safe to transfer them again?

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

If you are willing to re-do them, you can do it right now. I readjust the height of some of my seedlings just so they can stay under the lights by dumping them out (carefully support the solid around the seedling), loosening to remove soil mix at bottom and generally flattening the foot mass, the carefully lowering them to the bottom of the pot/container.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Ah. I was puzzled that the link and info I posted wasn't here. It was in reply to another thread:
Subject: Seedlings too tall and leggy plant a week early in garden?
applestar wrote:Are you supporting them at all?
Use thin bamboo canes, bamboo skewers, straight shrub and tree trimmings (upside sown if fresh cut to prevent rooting). They will need the support when they go outside to harden or a little breeze will knock them over.

If in doubt, you can also deep uppot to Large and Double-gulp cups, cut off 1/2 gal milk, etc. beverage cartons, 2L and 3L soda bottles, etc. -- WITH DRAINAGE HOLES OF COURSE. Drop them in the bottom and fill with fresh potting mix to the top, burying the stem.

You can also make DRAINAGE SLITS with utility knife/box cutter as described here:
:arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 13#p296913
Hmm... Noticing advice above was for bigger plants, so 16 oz - 1 L/1qt - 24 oz containers should work for seedlings your size.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Your plants were tall and it will be difficult to get them deep enough except in big pots, but they should be almost as deep as the ones in the video of the guy who saved many, many plants from his seedlings.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

and no matter how nice the windows are, outside is always better!
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

How's this?

I do plan on putting them outside when the weather improves. Still getting the odd frost here at the moment.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Bobby_123 wrote:How's this? I do plan on putting them outside when the weather improves. Still getting the odd frost here at the moment.
Great! Good luck. Keep us posted on your progress, and I would like to see the view out those long windows.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Hi guys, Just after a bit of advice on watering

- How often and how much water?
- Does water temperature matter?
- Shall I water in the tray or soil?

Cheers

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Watering is always best done from below. Tomato plants don't like to be overwatered, so it is usually a good idea to water when the top of the soil looks dry and a lighter in color, or just feel them. If it feels dry when your finger is inserted to past the fingernail, it's time to water, but not before! Tomato plants don't do too well with wet leaves, they can get fungus, so be sure to water so that the leaves stay dry.

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

OK. I have been watering them from below until tonight when I watered the soil upon instruction from another website.

Will they be ok this once?

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Yes, absolutely. :) just wait until they dry out a bit before next watering.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Hello again. Ok, my plants seem to be making really good progress. They have grown to be about 20-25cm. Should I begin to harden them off a bit ready for the great outdoors?


I don't have much of a garden so I think I am going to have to plant them in large pots. Has anyone done this before in here?

As always any advice is appreciated.

Thanks
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Yes. They are looking good and plenty ready to start hardening off.

Lots of people grow tomatoes in containers. What you need is LARGE containers (at least the size of a 5 gallon/ 20 litre bucket for ONE plant) and plenty of sun. And then they will need considerably more care and attention than if they were in the ground. You will have to fertilize some and you will have to monitor their water needs carefully. I tried doing this one year and never got it to produce much, because it kept drying out. But it was a very hot, dry summer, more than I think you usually have. But if you are having hot dry weather, then you would probably need to water it every day, possibly twice a day if it is really bad. Or set up some kind of irrigation or self-watering system.

But if you are prepared to give this level of care, then sure tomatoes can do fine in containers.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

Yeah. I have no problem in looking after them. What size do I want to be looking at re-potting to the larger pots?

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I don't think you ever said what variety tomatoes these are.

Some varieties have significantly different growing habits. In UK and Europe, the usual practice is to prune them to a single stem, so I'm kind of leaning towards guessing that they are an indeterminate variety that grows no more than 6 foot or so and you'll top them anyhow, but tell us what you are growing in case you have determinate varieties that tend to be shorter and shouldn't be pruned or patio type short/sprawling varieties that are meant to be grown in containers.

That will determine the best size.
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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

The problem there is that I no longer have the packet and can't remember the name. Wasn't thinking at the time. To my knowledge they weren't anything unique. The seeds were bought from a pound shop so I'm guessing they will be quite common/standard.

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Re: Tomato Seed Sprouts - What is the Next Step?

I haven't container grown tomatoes very much, but I want to say ideally at least 10-15 gallons or 40-60 liters -- 15"x15"x15" box -- for each medium sized plant if you want good production and full size for the variety fruits.

I have grown medium sized varieties -- 4-6 ft -- in my 14"x14"x14" patio boxes. They tended to get stressed but did OK.

I believe it can be managed with 5-7 gallons if you do single stem pruning and rig self-watering or automated watering. Have you seen the rain gutter self watering design for 5 gallon bucket garden? If I had a level surface to set these up on, I might try this with the floating switch valve automatic waterhose intake.

Earthbox type commercial or DIY container is another option. I have heard that you can actually plant two tomato plants per genuine Earthbox.
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