Itís the time of year for those of us with Early-Tomato-Seed-Starter-Syndrome (ETSSS for short), to make sure we have ordered all of the seeds we plan on planting and have all of the necessary supplies on hand.
ETSSS is defined as the unstoppable need to start tomato seeds indoors under grow lights ridiculously early, like between December 15th and January 15th so that 1 to 2 foot tomato plants are ready to harden-off and plant outdoors around the 1st through 15th of February, 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date (here in zone 8a). I contracted ETSSS only this past year and although it goes into remission for several months, itís symptoms return once seed company catalogs begin arriving in the mail and I get email reminders that ďfree shipping on seed orders lasts only until December 1Ē. Maybe someday there will be a vaccine for ETSSS but until that day comes, I will make sure I have a sufficient supply of tomato seeds, 2 inch peat pots, and Roots Organic starter medium so that I can begin looking forward to picking my first ripe tomato about mid-April.
Yes I am also affected by ETSSS.
I am ready: I have all my seeds, Root Organics soil, pots and lights.
I will follow Thun's bio-dynamic calendar and plant from the afternoon of December 31st to January 3rd.
The goal will be to transplant out by the end of February.
I have been following this method for 4 years and I have been very successful on harvesting 3,5 months of tomatoes.
weeee I cannot wait
Look at my freezer !! I had so many tomatoes last year !!
I donít know if I can help you since I did not buy Marie Thunís book for 2013. I have the luxury of living in the same area as drthor, who lives by the Thun calendar, so I just watch for her post of when she is planting her tomato seeds and plant mine at the same time. I guess you could back up three months from the last average frost date in your area and look on the Thun calendar for the planting dates around that time. The three months allows two months (for some it only takes six weeks) to get the tomato plants up to a healthy 1 foot to 2 foot size indoors and then you are at least a month ahead of when ďnormalĒ people (those that donít have ETSSS) are ready to plant their tomatoes outside. Of course you must be prepared to protect your plants from the cold by covering and uncovering them which can be a hassle. I consider this to be the price you pay for having early tomatoes.
I only let my tomatoes get 8"-10" before they go out for hardening off. Dr. C said it was easier on the tomato plant to get it out when it was smaller, 6"-8". I split the diff, because of the protection I'd need for smaller seedlings.
Speaking if which, drthor turned me on to the perforated plastic sheeting from Territorial Seeds. Once up, air, light, and rain can get to the seedlings. No taking it on and off. Plus, the wind can pass thru and not blow or tear the hoop down.
Well - I guess the diagnosis fits - just sowed 36 seeds - another 150 to go next weekend. Just had to get the late maturing varieties planted. Planted 12 NevesAzorean Red, never tried it before, got the seeds and then read a suggestion to start 3 weeks before other varieties so got right to it!! I have it bad and this was the only 'drug' I could think of!!
Oh, and I already have the 'transplant' containers ready to go - 4 in all depending on when the garden will be workable.
I have already checked the seeds 4 times and they still have not sprouted!! I guess 4 hours is too SOON!!
I believe you are a little too anxious but that is another sympton of ETSSS. I only go in to look at my seed pots about three times a day. I planted tomato seeds on 1/1/13 and still no signs of germination even though I have the heating pad control set on 80 degrees. Maybe I should crank it up another 10 degrees.
I just checked my tomato seed pots and Iíve germinated about 8 of the 100 seeds I planted on 1/1/13. They are not looking so good and are real tiny , about 1/4 to 1/2 " tall, and spindly, but I can still see them with my naked eye. I have a plastic dome covering the tray holding the 50 pots and the ones that have germinated or not all in the same row of peat pots, five pots to the row all connected. I planted two seeds in each peat pot. So how do I get the seedlings in the pots separated and into a separate tray so I can get them under lights? ďWhat a revolting development youíve gotten us into this time, OllieĒ as Abbott used to say to Costello (maybe it was the opposite way around). Now I realize that I should have planted in separate peat pots. Still I feel good about fathering tomato seedlings and I should be handing out cigars.
hrp, just gently prick them out and put them in individual pots- (I use a toothpick to loosen the soil around them.) I use 5oz clear plastic cups from WalMart-punch 3 holes in the edge at the bottom with an old woodburning tool. Then keep the light barely above the leaves for strong plants. Don't feed them until they have 2 sets of real leaves-the baby roots can't handle fertilizer so soon. Keep them a bit hungry and they will put out more roots seeking food- make sense?
I'm a little apprehensive about doing it but I will try four and five and see how they turn out. After all, what do I have to lose except a few tomato seedings and I still have time to replant if it doesn;t work out, right?.
Tomato seedlings can be quite forgiving but I would wait until they are at least an inch tall and the stalk looks sturdier. It doesn't hurt them to grow together for a while. Once they look a bit more robust start with Jo's idea of loosening the soil gently with the toothpick. Then use a small spoon or butter knife to gently scoop one out. Make a hole in the next container and drop the seedling into it. If they need to be separated then spoon them both out and carefully pull them apart holding the stem part just under the leaves or cotyledon. They should separate easily at that size. Good luck. I envy you being able to start tomatoes - here we are just dreaming and shivering!
I, too am in the group of envious people! I am preparing, but trying to fight the urge to sow, sow, sow!. Feb. 1st is really the soonest I should do anything more than dream- and read about all of you who are into it already. This year I plan to use some DE along with the usual soilless potting mixes I always use. I have a new bale of ProMix that I bought last year.
1lisac, there is a lot of talk concerning sowing seeds in DE instead of potting mix. I just did a search to find the forum but I guess I don't know how! Someone has been testing and says that seedlings grow better and no dampoff, etc- he shows photos that really look impressive. If someone can find the Forum, please do--- I am always interested in trying new things, so I plan to use some this year. It sells in auto parts stores as "Ultrasorb"_ I have a bag.
GG, as I posted before, I don't plan to dump the DE into the garden, but I have read that DE does NOT harm earthworms-- I will find the info when I have more time and post it. When I first used DE I was concerned, so researched it at that time.
I put a spoonful or so of the DE , and the same of GREENSAND in with mine, We talked a bunch about it last fall.
I can't seem to find that thread either..
It does not bother the worms here.. Although worms do not like sand or rough particles as you know, Only that is another convo..
If it's the ridiculously long thread about DE it's at Tomatoville. All sorts of suggestions about which kind of DE to use, and on and on, and different successes showing up already.
If I were starting my own seeds these days, which I'm not, I wouldn't use the wet paper towel method I wouldn't use this or that I'd use just darn good soilless mix with which I always had great luck.
My job these days is to find varieties new to all or most and then send the seeds to Craig L in Raleigh who grows my plants for me, and then seeds to now four different folks who do the seed production for me.
I spent most of the time this afternoon going thru my seed collection post 1996, I can't get to the earlier ones with my walker and no one else here to help me, for someone with an excellent seed site who is looking for some overlooked varieties that don't appear at Tania's site as being offered elsewhere, to trial this season.
About all that'sgrowing here are icicles that form in certain places from the roof overhang.LOL
Ok you southern folks, go ahead, start your tomatoes, and when the summer heat and humidity hit look to those north of you for some great tomato growing.LOL
I got into that DE conversation from looking for a bug deterrent that did not break down or wash away in the rain. Nothing is more disappointing than to see brand new plants chopped off at the ground by cutworms ,snails or crawling ,slithering visitors browsing for their salad.
Found out then ,that there was more to it than that.. That seems to happen often here.
From what I gather after reading several sources, there is a difference between *food grade* and the absorbent DE- food grade is dust- the other is granules, ranging from quite fine to somewhat coarse. The dust is used as a pesticide-slugs, etc, but loses it's effectiveness when wet, so would not be practical for a garden that uses sprinklers. What I use to sprout seeds is the absorbant under the name of Ultrasorb sold in auto part stores. I plan to just sprout the seeds, then repot into potting mix, so there will not be much DE put into my garden to affect earthworms, if indeed it does.
Carolyn, speaking of icicles, do you have any sugar maple trees? As a kid growing up in NH, I have fond memories of picking the icicles from the trees when the temps made the sap run- they were the sweetest thing!
I've always used Jiffy Soilless Mix. I have a stockpile of the organic version I bought on sale at the end of last season . Since I try to get my seedlings hardened and planted out as soon as possible I don't worry about fertilizing them until they get planted out. I've been stating my own various varieties of seedlings for about 23 years now. Not to say I won't ever try anything new--I did try the Roots Own Organics (or whatever it is called). I felt I wasn't really getting my money's worth as the seedlings were transplanted outside so quickly. So I went back to the Jiffy Mix. For me it is economical and it works. I tried starting my seeds earlier than I normally would for a couple of years. I found that I had way too many flats of tomato seedlings, all vying for my attention. And the Corgies were trying to play with them. The less Corgie/indoor/greenhouse play time for my seedlings the better!
Yeah, I'm in the south now. But I'm still holding off on starting my tomatoes. My soil thermometer (Christmas gift) is in the ground. I'll wait until the soil temps get to be closer to where I want them to be for tomatoes. When I think I can get the seedlings planted out in a timely fashion and at the right soil temp, then I'll be off the races ☺. I'm really enjoying all the photos and advice, but I can't be the only one in zone 8b who is holding off a bit.
I'm waiting too, but I'm zone 8a. I know my own microclimate too well to start this early. Plant out around here, for warm weather crops, usually starts around the middle of March. I don't have the time or the patience to keep covering and uncovering, besides if it's that cold it usually means the soil is too.
I do enjoy reading what everybody else is doing, it gives me ideas. : )
I agree terri.. One zone chart says 5 b , I register 6 b, some here say 6 a , and have plants that are here after years that are zone 7's
High and low,, which way to go.
Some days ,where am I at? I know the feeling!...lol
I started flats of tomato seeds on DECEMBER 31, 2012...
To date, I've got 72 tomato seedlings under fluorescent lights as of Saturday, January 5th (5 days from sowing), and four trays of 48-cells that haven't popped yet. That's a potential of another 96 seedlings, if they all pop, since I planted two seeds per cell.
I'll divide them all when I pot up, after they get at least 1-2 sets of true leaves.
I haven't even sowed the bell pepper and eggplant seeds yet...
I have started my tomato seedlings on the afternoon of December 31st.
Of the 32 varieties I planted, 31 germinated and they started to make true leaves.
I seeded each variety on a 4" pot using Root Organic soil. Soon I will pick the best seedlings and re-pot each one of them on a 4" pot.
Planting out date: February 24-26 or March 6-7.
So far so good.
Excellent question! And, yes, there is a difference!
Last season I had three batches of brassicas I experimented with. Some were started in recycled RO mixed with some recycled MG seed starting mix, and pine bark fines.
Another batch was started in half new RO and recycled pine bark fines.
And a couple were started in 100% RO.
I predicted the 100% group would grow faster, and they did, which is why I only started a few in 100%. It was still too hot for the brassicas to go out..
The brassicas in the 50% group did very nicely too, beefing up, but at a slower rate. I didn't have to feed either group #1 or #2 until much later in the Potting up phase.
Group #3 in the 100% recycled medium grew equally well, but slower, and I definitely had to feed this group more, early on.
Brassicas are heavy feeders, as it is, so I expected to have to feed them anyways. Since groups 1 & 2 had some new RO from the beginning, the seedlings got a good jump start from the beginning.
This season, I need the tomatoes to take off fast, for early plant out. So, I went 100% RO, but another factor is in play. See my post above to drthor.
Light strength is at issue here. Drthor uses powerful T5 lights, and I'm on my third round using this set of regular T12 shop lights. Everything else being relatively equal, I need to change out my bulbs. I'm still ok with the shop lights and T12s , but my lights aren't at full strength right now. ..
It is a combination of 4 factors: lights, heating mat, moisture and good soil.
I started my seeds on top of the heating mat, under a tall plastic dome and with the lights on.
Since I planted different varieties it is important to have them under the lights already because they will all germinate a different time.
I kept the went on my plastic dome open during the day and close at night. In this way the seedlings will stay warm at night and moisture will form on around the wall of the dome.
As soon as they all germinated I did remove the plastic dome.
I plant directly my plants on the garden, so I don't re-use the Root Organic medium.
What has changed this year is the price of the RO ... ouch ...
Someone posed that same question on another thread. The nuking doesn't seem to kill any of the nutrients in the RO, regardless of the efficacy level of the nutrients in the mix.
My nuking is only to kill any buglies that might've made a home in my bin, or hitchhiked in from containers that were outside.
Someone noted that I would need to nuke much longer than 20 minutes, to kill any of the microorganisms and nutrients.
Oh, yeah, I also nuke to heat up the mix, since I don't use a heat mat. Once I can handle the hot, moist mix, I work very quickly to drop the seeds and shove the flats into plastic baggies to trap the heat.
Some of my tomato seedlings have germinated but some have not. The first picture is of the ones I planted on January 1. The second picture shows the tomatoes I planted on January 4th & 5th but the tray also has in it peppers and eggplants which take longer to germinate. I removed the dome after the first few seeds germinated but I left the heating mat on to try and get the laggards to germinate. The thing that concerns me is that since they germinate at different rates the seedlings are different heights which make it hard to adjust the grow lights to the appropriate height of 2Ē above the top of the seedlings. If you notice drthorís pictures all of the seedlings appear to be the same size and height and it befuddles me how she does it. I do plan on potting up the seedlings in 16 oz. clear plastic cups once they have at least two sets of true leaves and the next step will be to harden them off hopefully sometime around the middle of February.
I know that I will have more tomato and other vegetable seedlings than I can fit into the raised beds in my back yard so I have taken a drastic measure. I have adopted a 20í x 4í plot in a community garden not too far from where I live. I have always wanted a large asparagus bed and this plot will give me room to do that plus room to put vegetables that take a lot of space like squash, okra and eggplant. I may regret taking on a 2nd garden when the temperatures reach the 100ís during July, August and September but Iím hoping for a big payoff since that's what risk and reward is all about. And there is the satisfaction of making a contribution of part of what I produce to a local charity.
Look closer and you'll see they aren't all uniform heights. And notice the height on the lights. I keep my T12 shop lights almost on top of the seedlings, and I don't have as much bright light as drthor's T5s are throwing from a height of at least 3-4" above the seedlings.
drthor, when do you take the flats off your heating mat?
I put on my spectacles and had another look and I see that all of drthor's seedling aren't all uniform but are a lot closer than mine. I have some that are 4" and some are barely out of the ground Another impressive thing about drthor's is the thickness of the stems which will make for nice sturdy plants when she moves them outside.
I haven't done from seeds for a few years, but going to again this year - much more rewarding. I start mine in early February (yes, in zone 5) but have a sort of green house environment for them to live in. I transplant them often, as they get leggy otherwise. I actually put mine outside as early as mid March, if the weather and forecast permits, but use Wall of Waters for them. When filling the wall of waters, you can use warm water to fill, just add boiling water to the cold water with a turkey baster. The first year I did this, I was very successful, because the plants got to get into their "real" home earlier - I evaded the climate zones... hehehehehe... It's nice to have tomatoes early. It's also nice to have a surplus of tomatoes in July, and linger into October. The neighborhood never goes hungry! I like to make canned salsa, so I need the surplus and only have so much space (enough for 8 nice sized plants). Now, Ernie told me I couldn't do this, but I succeeded - but it was with the help of the wall of waters. You also have to really look at the weather patterns. For the most part, the wall of waters protect them from freezing, even if it snows a little, again. I am going to start some impatiens and other flowers in February, and transplant, of course, and greenhouse them as well, until they are ready to go outside. I want them big and flowering like you would get at a nursery, without the cost.
your tomatoes don't look so bad ... they will be just fine.
Which medium did you use?
My heating mat is still on, because I have just started peppers and tomatoes in the upper floor.
The fan is not on yet, too small of a seedling. Today some of the seedlings are putting out the second set of true leaves.
I will soon transplant each of them on a 4" pot.
My heating mat is on the upper floor , as soon as that space is full I start to move down the 4" pots with regular shop lights, which I think the plants like better after germination.
I close the laundry room door and that place stay really toasty and warm.
hrp50, I also gave the worm wine last week to my seedlings (from TX worm ranch). Heather came to do a program to our garden club and she took with her her magic potion.
wow - I don't even use heating lamps... just put them in a window and let nature do it's work, and it is cold here in February. When I get started, I'll take pictures of the progression, and through the spring, summer and fall, and what I use.
I wish it was so easy Karrie20x.
In my house I have those special double panels windows, with special filters to keep the heat of the sun outside.
So my seedlings will never grow good just with a window light.
But good for you.
you'd be surprised - this greenhouse environment is an extention off the upstairs bedroom and not heated, but I have successfullly over wintered plants in it. Getting ready to fertilize them and get then ready for a show... You really would be surprised at what it actually takes to germinate... Remember these seeds originally came from places where it was cold at night, and warmed in the day...
Karrie, I agree- seedlings should be kept a little hungry so they will put out roots looking for food. Then after planting out in the garden, some root stimulator at first, then when they are settled in, it's ok to fertilize.
I need to quickly buy tomato seeds of the one best variety that produces the best tomato sauce, one that has few seeds (is it maybe Roma?). My first experience at making tomato sauce from home grown tomatoes was less than successful. Although my kids thought it tasted good, it had too many seeds that I couldn't strain out making for a crunchy texture. I used Gold Nuggetts I had frozen a few months back so they were too small to blanch and peel (the orange colored sauce was unique and stirred some interesting table conversation). Yes I know that my ETSSS went into remission for a week or so thus I will be at least three weeks late staring them.
hrp50, just like the question of what is the best tomato for juice- I do not think there is one---when my tomatoes come in , I always have a mix of varieties that are ripe enough, so they all get mixed in together. When I blanch and skin, I always squeeze out most of the seeds, then after cooking down, I use a Foley Food Mill to puree, then cook some more with seasonings. Nothing exact- just to taste. I gave up on Romas long ago because they were so prone to BER, but this year I am trying Martino's Roma after reading several endorsements from DG'rs. I got my seeds from Ed Hume, along with some Sugar Lace peas, which are said to be stringless. I love sugar peas, but have found that even picked young they still have strings- I will find out soon.
Well, I was ready to plant my seeds tonight, but you've got me scared! Am I crazy? I can put them out around March 1st here, and I am all ready to drop those little seeds into their pots. I was thinking about 6 weeks in the pots, and then out to the garden they can go! The weather here was a beautiful and sunny 75 today, and I think I got sunburned working in the yard.
I think that you should take your hands off of the keyboard, back away from your computer, and get those tomato seeds into some potting medium as soon as possible. You're not crazy, you have ETSSS just like lots of us on this thread have. But you should consult the Healthy Living forum to find out what to do about that sunburn.
LOL! I too suffer from etsss! Because I am in zone 5 my symptoms usually don't kick in until after Christmas. My seeds are ordered however and I am gonna try really really hard to hold off until the end of February. Last year, they were busting out of their pots 2-3 weeks before our last frost date, and because of our extreme, record breaking, mild Winter, I planted them... just to have Frost warning after frost warning. So this year I am gonna wait... even though the seeds are on their way and there is soil in the starter pots I plan to use... I am gonna wait! LMAO!
I think they get hungry too!! The thing is though , all of us with ETSSS and other things, I wonder how the plants feel with us standing there looking them over, thinking we are hungry!!!! silly isn't I
Mother Sauces with Master Chef
Sat : 4/13/2013
Everyoneís heard of the Mother Sauces, but do you know how to make them properly, apply them and when to use them?
In this hands-on MasterChef Cooking Class, taught by Le Cordon Bleu Chefs, weíll focus on two mother sauces, tomato and bťchamel, and how to use them to enhance your dishes.
Thanks, that's exactly what I'm looking for. Now if I can just find the same two-for-one deal I found when my wife and I took the French cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu last year. We're having so much fun making the recipe we learned for Beef Wellington for our family and friends.
I still don't fully understand why my attempt at making tomato sauce failed so badly. I even used the recipe I learned from elderly man in the you-tube video that someone posted a link to on DG. Maybe mine didn't turn out like his because I didn't put it through a strainer, I didn't cook it outside over an open fire, and (strike three) I'm not Italian.
Hallelujah! My final tomato seed order came today from TomatoFest which consists of six varieties from The Dwarf Tomato Project; New Big Dwarf, Red Robin Heirloom, Taxi, Amber Colored, Black Sea Man Heirloom, plus a bonus packet of Homer Fikeís Yellow Oxheart. After I get them planted maybe my ETSSS will go into remission again. For 2013 I will have started 26 varieties of tomatoes whereas in the past the most is 15.
buy the way, the full price LCB class is still very worth it !
I have signed up for the 6 packs package and I am sure I will be buying more by the end of the year.
But let me know if you will find those Travelzoo coupons again.
I will be interested to hear feedback on New Big Dwarf-- the year before last I had fantastic success- the 3' tall plants were loaded with perfect big, juicy, wonderful tomatoes- so dense they couldn't all be seen until I dug inside!This year (2012), I only had 2 seeds germinate out of the 10 I sowed, and just 1 plant survived, and the harvest was dismal. I don't know if I messed up, or what happened. I am not growing them this year unless someone has extra seeds they don't need. I would like to give them a second chance, but am not happy failing!
You can google The Dwarf Tomato project. There have been several threads about them. There are certain plants that have been developed in this "project" ie the ones GG mentioned but there are other small tomato plants that aren't dwarfs. The other ones hrp50 mentioned may be true dwarfs.
Victory seeds sells them and explains how to grow them. I put my New Big Dwarf in a 5 gal pot and it seemed to do fine. I'm trying others this season also. I really don't know anymore about them.
Thanks for the compliments on my NBD photos- they were kind of an afterthought--my back yard garden was full, so I planted them in the front of the house along with the flowers--when the tomatoes started turning red the neighbors flipped out to see veggies there! But in 2012 I put them in the *real* veggie garden--they totally failed! Well, all I had was 1 that made it that far, and it was pitiful. Hoping for better this year.
I have just fed my soil with the ground shells of 16 Dungeness Crabs-- (meat of which is vacuum packed in my freezer) and lots of coffee grounds. Every day I get about a 5 gallon bucket full of grounds from Starbuck's- I'm going to have enough for several people's soil by the time spring arrives.
I stand corrected. The tomatoes I identified above as being new varieties developed by the Dwarf Tomato Project are not from that ďProjectĒ. Those varieties were purchased from TomatoFest.com and are varieties small enough to be grown in containers.
What I should have listed were tomato seeds I purchased from HeritageTomatoSeed.com that did come from the ďProject":
Dwarf Sweet Sue, Iditarod Red, Perth Pride and (freebie) Sleeping Lady
My interest in smaller varieties of tomatoes was sparked when I realized that I didnít have space in my raised beds to grow as many different varieties as I had hoped so I went looking for varieties that I could grow in containers.
. Red Robin Heirloom
Red Robin #6010 (30 seeds) This popular dwarf variety of cherry tomato thrives in relatively small pots or hanging baskets set on sunny windowsills or outdoor patios. Plants only become 8 to 12 in. tall and bear masses of 1-1/4 inch full-flavored tomatoes with a touch of sweetness. It is a very rewarding harvest from a small tomato plant that can be grown in an 8-inch pot. Determinate 55 days
Wow, is that your photo of Red Robin, hrp50? That looks as if you could carry it around with and munch on the ripe toms as you wander about the rest of your garden. Sort of like one of those little dogs Paris Hilton carries around. Only much cuter...
I wish I could claim the Red Robins as my own but the picture came from the seed company's web site. I just planted my Red Robin seeds today but I'm hoping to post a picture of my own sometime in about three months.
Tomatoes are growing great. The tallest are 6" now.
All the 31 varieties that I planted did germinate.
Thick stem and second set of true leaves already.
Tomorrow or Saturday (fruit days) I will re-pot each one on a 4" pot ... and decapitate the one I don't need ... ouch ...
I will lower down the plant to the pot , leaving only the upper leaves to show. In this way the long stem will produce more roots.
I'll finally be starting my tomato seeds this weekend. I haven't really finalized the line up for this spring yet. I guess I'll post my list once I plant the seeds. Also probably start a few peppers and eggplants just to get going. For sure Turkey Chomp, Livingston's Favorite, Orange Heirloom, Livingston's Giant Oxheart, Golden Bison, Livingston's Dwarf Stone, and the paste and determinates. DH wants me to go heavy on the tomatoes this year as last year he feels I shared too many with the neighbors and fellows at work. So this year he wants more for him ☺
I'm actually glad I waited this long as I look at drthor's photos. Don't get me wrong--they are lovely photos, but I want to plant them. My finger are just itching to get out there and dig! 6" is about when I would be wanting to harden them off and plant them. So, for me, waiting a bit should work out. Keeping in mind that in my garden I'm not just dodging frost and late freezes. I'm also dealing with constant, shifting winds, and some pretty nasty wind gusts that last all spring.
I'm learning here, too. Next time, I'll use fewer pots to sow the seeds in, and space them out more in each pot. Not so much root entanglement that way, before potting up. Oh, and I'll definitely remember to change out to new fluorescent light tubes!!!
I started my seeds early to get my very-long-season beefsteak transplants in the ground by mid-February, since most will need at least 80-105 dtms. I'm targeting the end of June for my final harvest, and ripping the tomato plant out after that. Our brutal Texas heat, the stinkbugs and aphids just make it not-so-nice to struggle to keep tomatoes going past then.
I'll start learning about what ELSE I can play with in the summertime garden. But, it won't be tomatoes past June!
The seedling's roots are so small that at this point there is really not "root entanglement". Those babies are only 17 days old.
I used a 4" pot for each variety ... it is so much easier to control germination.
I suppose I will chime in since I also have ETSSS...I started first batch of 72 on Jan 1, and the second batch of 72 on Jan, 11.
First batch of 72 ready to up-pot to 4" post
Close up of plant ready for up-pot
I pull plant out of cell w/ a pair of tweezers. This is one reason I like the plugs. The entire plant comes out of the cell effortlessly w/out root damage. The roots just hang down the bottom of the plug.
I place the plug w/ plant into the 4" pot. The plug is small enough that I can bury the seedling deep into the 4" pot all the way up to the cotyledon leaves. This helps allow the stem to grow thick, and not at all leggy.
Final up-potted Costoluto Fiorentino tomato plant.. I post this not as a look at me type post. I post it because in the past I had problems w/ starting my own seedlings using jiffy mix type seed starting soil. I have found that these plugs are very easy to use for me, and I thought I would pass along to others that my be somewhat intimated starting their seedlings.
I've actually procrastinated this year! Call Ripleys! (or 911 - what is wrong with me?!) I am getting ready to order my seeds. I lean towards heirlooms - for some reason, I find the hybrids have thicker skins, and I can't chew them! If any of you can help guide me - I already have Anna Russian seeds that I saved from last year, and a large Black Russian is on my list of wants. BUT - I am looking for a good heirloom(s) for making canning Salsa and canning Tomato Sauce. Those will most likely be different ones, but that is ok. Any suggestions? Also, What are your favorite sites to order from, for heirloom seeds? (I am also going to order heirloom pepper seeds).
Ester Hess might be good for salsa , more like a salad dressing taste ,not spicy.. Plus the plant tolerates some cooler overcast temps , I don't know if that is a plus or not though where you are anymore..
It is an heirloom and takes good soil , I can send you a couple of seeds if you want to try . It is not impressive only a good solid plant...
They're not reusable. Each plug is about $.08. I got 72 plugs for $12 plus shipping from a supplier in Austin.
The plugs are really great for starting the seedlings. The roots get lots of oxygen through the pores of the plugs. You save a whole lot of $$ on Potting mix in the beginning. You only have to have the Potting mix to pot up.
Some larger plugs would allow you to transplant the seedlings without Potting up.
I can get the supplies to "make your own cells" at a nursery not to far from me. I buy these plastic flats that have the small cells, and fill them with seed starting mix. That seems to work, and I can reuse the supplies until the plastic breaks down. Very cost effective.
Well check back later ,, there might really be two or three of you doing both!!!! lol Each one, with control of one eye for reading!!!!
Would make it handy for cleaning and gardening and planting though wouldn't it!! zoom!!!
the way I do mine, without those plug thingies, is scoop the seedlings, including the germination soil, with a spoon. I have never cared for those biodegradable things - in fact, if I buy a plant that is in one, I peel them off first before planting. They don't seem to break down fast enough for me, and the plant roots don't get to spread out fast enough. Maybe it's my soil? I dunno!
The ihort plugs aren't the the peat pots that you peel away. Horn has another thread going that explains them in full. He used them last year, with great success, so some of us are familiar with them. They work so well for him and there is no mess and they are not very expensive.
Horn did you add any amendments? I seem to remember last year that you did.
Lisa you have a good memory...yes I water my seedlings with rain water mixed with some mycorrhizae powder.
Karrie20x...it would be difficult to "peel away" the plant from the plug w/out killing the plant...see pic. You must be thinking of Jiffy Mix plugs wrapped w/ netting. I have also tried those, and do not like them either
I'm "recovering" from ETSSS! Learned the hard way that packing your spare bedroom grow light stand with too many tomato seedlings too early in the season just means wasted $$$. I'll be seeding mine in a couple of days with the target garden planting date by the 2nd week in March; the seedlings will be 5-6 weeks old and just the right size to transplant with less shock and delay. Mine are small fruited indeterminate types that will keep going into the heat of summer (better be...this summer is projected to be hotter than usual, whatever that is these days).
I seed mine in flats, then into deep cells then into tall coffee cups to grow on...
IĎm potting up some of my tomato seedlings and I'm trying something new this year. I'm sprinkling mycorrhizae fungi granules (Plant Success brand), plus some dried molasses granules to feed the mycorrhizae, into the Roots Organic potting mix. Iíve had great success using Plant Success outside in my raised beds as it produces a huge root system. When I water the newly potted seedlings I water it with distilled water (due to the high salt content of our tap water) mixed with Garrett Juice Plus (1.5 Ė 2.2 - 1.5) which contains compost tea, molasses, liquid seaweed, apple cider vinegar, and hydrolyzed fish. I think Iíve covered all of my bases for providing the seedlings with what they need to grow a good root system so now Iíll have to wait a few weeks until plant-out time to see how it worked.
The first picture shows one of the tomato seedlings Iím about to pot up, the size and root system. The second picture is 1 of 12 tomato seedlings potted up into 16 oz. clear plastic cups with five holes drilled in the bottom of each cup for drainage. I hope that I will be able to observe the growth of the root systems through the clear plastic cups
I'll be watching your progress. Just a bit concerned that you're adding an awful lot of amendments to the RO, that's already quite filled with plant steroids. I'd start with just a few seedlings, just in case you've created nutrient overload.
I just potted up 50 seedlings from the RO I sowed the seeds in, to drinking water bottles with brand new RO, and, I kept the spent RO from the seed trays. I was thinking I'm going to need to beef it up if I plan on using it over again to root my bell peppers and eggplants.
I may just go ahead with your formula, since I'm pretty sure the tomato seedlings sucked out a good bit of the nutrients that came in the fresh RO.
Where do you get the mycorrhizae (Plant Success brand), and the Garrett Juice? How much do you mix into the RO?
I forgot to mention that I potted up my tomato seedlings with new RO and will dump the leftover in the peat pots into my raised beds
My only concern is that I might be using too much molasses since I discovered that it is also an ingredient in Garrett Juice Plus. Even though I frequently criticize Howard Garrett for some of his wacky ideas, I may call in to his radio program this weekend and ask if I'm using too much molasses and how it might harm my seedlings.
Plant Success I buy on amazon.com (2 lb. canister, also comes in 1 lb.) since I can get free two-day shipping and pay no sales tax. Garrett Juice Plus I buy at my local Man's Best Friend since they sell it for a little less than local nurseries plus I get a 10% discount since I had my dog trained there. I buy the 1 gallon size that is not usually carried in stores but they can get it in a few days of ordering it. I sprinkle the Plant Success in the bottom of the hole where the roots are going and top dress it with a little more. The Garrett Juice Plus concentrate I mix with distilled water according to the label instructions and use it as a soil drench.
Some times I'm glad to have a cheap digital camera, otherwise you would be able to see in the pictures below about 12 small dead tomato seedlings that didn't get enough water while I was out of town for a few days.
The symptoms have finally abated now that I have 236 seedlings transplanted into cups. - and another 15 varieties sprouting. This is my second year growing from seed I really want to thank everyone for their advice. I found that the 'plugs' really work well for germination. I used 'Root Shooters' that I could get locally from the hydroponic store. I was unable to find the ihort plugs. The germination was at least 35% better with the root shooter plugs than my 'super secret' sprouting mix!
Thanks again for all this valuable information in these tomato forums! Now just to nurse these until I put them in the gound in early March or give them away.
Wow! 286 tomato seedlings and youíre still germinating more? They look great in the cups, sorta like mine look just a whole lot fewer of them. What are you fertilizing them with? Of the total of 286, how many different varieties are there? Where will you plant the tomatoes outside, in the ground, in raised beds, etc.? Do you ever have a problem with the cups falling over from being top heavy and if so how do you compensate for that?
I hope that you will keep posting pictures so we all can follow the progression of growth and I can compare my results with yours. Donít be too relieved about the ETSSS being in remission because it will return. There is no cure.
You need one of those mats that water from the bottom of the flat or, as I just read in an older seed starting book - use a solid flat tray with a layer of saturated vermiculite in the bottom then the seedling flat on top! Sounds like a neat idea for keeping the soil moist for a few days...
No, what I need is a son who remembers and pays attention to his task at hand. Actually my son is very helpful in taking care of my garden while I'm away. He was just real busy with work this time.
You sparked my interest in a method of keeping seedlings moist but not too moist while they are growing under grow lights. Either method you mentioned seemed good but how do you control the amount of moisture wicked up through the peat pot?
Will the same method work when using plastic cups, i.e., will the water still wick up through the holes in the bottom of the cups?
I put my seedlings in various size cups and to prevent tipping I get some cardboard 'vegetable' or other boxes from COSTCO and drill holes in them with a hole saw and have a tip-free place; another benefit is you can lift the box with all the cups in it and take it outside or whatever. I currently have 51 varieties I am cultivating and a few more for friends. I will plant mine in 9 raised beds that are 4 foot wide and 20 foor long.
It's pretty cool that everyone has their seed starting method, and it seems to work for each individual person. I am impressed w/ how some of you engineer ways to make your methods work. For example Gym Girl made taller water bottle up-pots and her seedlings look great...pretty clever...and Garden_Sass sows her tomato seeds like I sow my lettuce seeds...when the leaves pop up just dig em out, and re-plant...it's all about the product we put into the ground when the seedlings have matured..
I spoke with Howard Garrett (also known nationally as the "Dirt Doctor" and a big proponent of organic gardening) this morning on his radio program and asked if I could use too much molasses when potting up my tomato seedlings and he suggested that I do it a little bit differently. Currently I'm making a little hole in the RO potting soil and putting a pinch or two of mycorrhizae (Plant Success) in the hole and a pinch or two of dried molasses, followed by watering the seedlings using a dilution of Garrett Juice Plus which also contains molasses (liquid). Howard said that if I used too much molasses it could over stimulate the microbial activity in the soil and cause root damage similar to burning. He suggested that instead of putting the dried molasses in the hole right under the roots that I incorporate it into the entire RO soil so that itís not concentrated in one spot beneath the roots. He said that the mycorrhizae I could continue putting down in the hole. It makes sense to me so I will try that when potting up the rest of tomato seedlings.
another "like"! I have found that tomato seeds don't need any fertilizing of any kind, at all, nor do seedlings. You may feel that you are giving it a "boost", but may end up with lots of foliage with little yield, by doing so. I just know this from things I've learned along the way, and from people who have been successful, for many years. Now once that plant is well established in the ground? I do things to it that many might balk on, but always end up with a high yield. I also, in the fall, after digging up the plants, put in lots of compost and steer manure, and let the snow rest on it during the winter, then mix it up well with a shovel in the spring, then hoe/rake to smooth it out, water well, wait a day, before transplanting. I also put my plants out early using Wall of Waters - they really help give me a jump on what would be a short season for me. I'm no expert, but like the results of what I do.
Karrie, I am in your corner. I don't believe in feeding young seedlings, but feel they do better if they are a bit hubgry and put out good roots seeking food. I amend my soil heavily between growing seasons and do very little fertilizing after they get planted out. I do try to use root stimulator once after they are planted out but that doesn't always happen. I have just recently added ground shells from 16 dungeness crabs and a lot of coffee grounds. Composted leaves will come soon.
need another "like" button! I use messenger, twice in the season, early in the morning. It's under a different name now, as it's been sold, but Carolyn can guide you to what it is. It really has helped me in boosting my maters. I also make enough of the solution (one packet made a big amount) on flowers and my peppers. Some have no results, but it needs to be done when in the shade and going to be in the shade for a long time, so for some, maybe at night. I am also a huge friend of "neem".
I really don't fertilize or "boost" my seedlings either. I wait until I plant they out and then work the fertilizer into a program then. I'm really working on building up my soil so that is where I am concertrating my efforts this season. I'm a big fan of messenger as well. Can't remember the name of the new product either. Need cafeine LOL!
Here too. I don't fertilize my seedlings while indoor. That's why I love the Root Organics soil. It has already everything that the plants need.
In the past I really did a mess trying to fertilize or boost the plants indoor ... mostly killed or stunted them.
I just water and that's it !
But I'd love to hear about your results. I hope you will discover something great.
If you use Root Organics or an equivalent you are fertilizing your seedlings because the medium has amendments. We had some confusion around this last year...not fertilizing your seedlings means starting them in a sterile seed starting medium with no amendments and then potting them up in a potting soil that has amendments or putting them in the garden.
Using a growing medium that already has amendments just means your not adding fertilizer it doesn't mean the seedlings aren't getting fertilized.
After all the confusion last yr. I don't want to go there again...lol
Last year I bought an Anna Russian, and saved some seed to grow this year. I have to tell you - this is one UGLY plant! Put it in the BACK garden, lol. It doesn't have a whole lot of leaves, and always looks like it's going to croak. But WOW what a yield I got from it - and the fruit is so good! You can use it as slicers, in salads, and for canning. It is on my all time favorites list now! It is listed in Carolyn's book. Horseshoe, if you see this, I really liked the Rutgers that you gave me seed for - that was many years ago, and I had to take some time out on gardening, so no longer have the seed - bummer.
After perusing the posts on Tomatoville and Gardenwb, I agree that the vast majority of people in the know do not fertilize their tomato seedlings unless they are using a soilless potting mixture as 1lisac mentioned. I guess that I should clarify my procedure for potting-up my tomato seedlings.
I use granular mycorrhizae fungi and molasses for feeding them at seedling pot-up time to stimulate the root system growth so that the seedlings will have the largest root system possible by plant-out time and for improving plant nutrient uptake, plant quality and disease resistance. I donít find any mention on the RO bag or on their website that it contains mycorrhizae. I only use the Garrett Juice Plus once, at pot-up time, and I dilute it to only Ĺ of the recommended rate and itís in lieu of using a root stimulator and to prevent transplant shock. From post pot-up to plant-out I only use plain distilled water. After the tomato plants are in the ground and have set a few fruit, I will use the Garrett Juice Plus as a fertilizer either as a soil drench, or as a foliar spray if I donít have any worm tea on hand. Since this the first year that Iíve done it this way, I donít know how well it will work or if it will produce more and better tomatoes than in prior years. All I know is that past yearís results leave me a lot of room for improvement.
Somewhere, someone asked me to report back on the progress of my seedlings in the three different soil mixes I started them in. All three mixes have Roots Organic Potting Soil as the base seed starting medium. It's time for that report:
►Seeds started in 100% recycled RO (sterilized and recycled from last year) are lagging behind. While they aren't exactly pitiful looking, they are kinda wimpy...
►►Seeds started in 50% brand new RO, and 50% old RO potting mix (sterilized and recycled from last year) are looking good, like they normally would...
►►►Seeds started in 100% brand new RO, are on steroids, and look like it!!! The stems are fully as thick as chopsticks, the seedlings are taller (without being leggy), greener and, overall, look healthier and more gorgeous than the rest...
I just KNEW somebody was gonna wanna see!!! LOL!!! I'll take some pics this evening...
The difference surprised even me, Jo. I'm growing some of those new big dwarf (NBD) seedlings for the first time and, for once, have ALL the seedlings labeled. At first, I thought the giant seedlings were the NBDs, because, in the very beginning, they were beefier than the regular seedlings, anyways, looking like miniature trees. But, after awhile, I saw all these gynormously beautiful stems on more of the other seedlings, and, upon examining them, they were several other varieties, like the German Giant, and even my Eva Purple Balls (which I have NEVER seen that stocky before!).
Then, it occurred to me what what going on. There were clearly, three different growth patterns before my eyes. The skimpy ones, the regular-looking ones, and the steroids!
Every time I have looked at drthor's current seedling pics from this season, I kept thinking her seedlings were so beefy and robust because of the T5 lights she uses. I use regular shop lights. Then, I looked at my own seedlings more carefully one day, and I could clearly pick out the seedlings that were the same comparative size as hers are now. And, sure enough, they were planted in 100% FRESH Roots Organics! The difference is so obvious.
When I take pics, I hope I can find three of the same variety of seedlings planted in the three different mixes, so you can see the difference between them.
My T5 lights are great to germinate seeds. The seedling pop up straight to the light.
It is not spindly looking or long. Just right.
Also T5 are kind of hot lights, so the heat does help the germination.
After they germinate and grow, I just move the plants one shelf below with the regular shop lights.
I actually think that the plants like the regular light just as well.
I have been using RO for 4 years now and there is no reason I even waist my time to try anything else.
It does work for me. I don't recycle it because the plants are using its nutrient to grow.
I transplant the entire plant in the RO media straight in my raised beds.
So far so good.
this picture is from January 2012. I did start some tomatoes earlier ... that's why they were so big already.
The T5 light fixture is the one on top. It is just seating there because it is to large to fit inside.
It has 6 light bulbs and two switches. I can use only 2 lights, or only 4 lights or all 6 of them. They are really brilliant and work great.
The bottom two shelves I have the regular shop lights, which I raise them up and down with the chains.
On the upper shelf I have my heating mat with thermostat and that is were all the germination happens.
I think that the seeds grow happy from the beginning and that's why I don't have any problem during my growing season.
T5 and heating mat create a really nice warm room. Everybody is happy !
I bought the T5 fixture at TX Hydro in Manana Dr. during a sale.
So far I never had to change the bulbs.
How "root bound" is too "root bound?" To my shame and horror, I've got 3 Black Cherry seedlings and 1 Siberia seedling in 4" pots that are at LEAST 18" tall, throwing blooms, and about to tip over. Roots floating all over the drip tray.
Yes, I already said I'm ashamed...
So. Can these be saved with any hope of them bearing fruits?
Do you leave the upper shelf lights on while the seeds are germinating or only after the seedlings appear?
I may need more lights to improve my tomato growth rate. Compare the size of your tomatoes on the bottom shelf with mine which were sown within a day or two or yours and potted up about a week later than yours. Maybe another set of T5 fixtures per shelf would help, along with reflectors, but could that make that much differences? Iíve read several posts on DG where there are no grow lights used except for the light coming through the window and their seedlings do fine, so maybe the additional cost might not be justifiable.
This topic of having all of the bells and whistles reminds me of a book I've just started reading called "The $64 Tomato" by William Alexander thatís funny and at the same time disturbing knowing it costs so much to produce a home-grown tomato. Iím afraid that if I had the nerve to account for all of my costs for equipment, supplies, electricity, water, etc, picking a tomato from my garden costs me a bit more than $64 per tomato. And I'm not even taking into consideration the value of my labor.
You can use regular T12 fluorescent shop lights. Although, I hear they are about to phase out the T12 kits for the T5s and T8s, they're still a good deal. $10 per 2-bulb kit (48" long), and you can get a case of 12 bulbs for $10 on sale at HD or Lowes.
I use two kits side x side per shelf, for a total of 4 bulbs each shining down on the seedlings. My lights are on 16 hrs. day, 7a-11p, and the seedlings are under lights from germination to the first potting up, and then, until they go out for hardening off at approx. 6-8 weeks old.
So they're under lights roughly 6-8 weeks total...
my lights are turned on from the beginning. It doesn't seems to make a big difference on my electric bill at all.
As soon as the little seedling pop up from the shell, it goes straight up to the light.
It feels the warmth both from the light and the heating mat. It grows happy from the beginning.
As a result i have tons of tomatoes from it.
Love it !
Yes ... at the beginning it is kind of an expensive hobby, but now I have gained so much from it.
I eat an incredible amount of veggies and it will cost me so much money to buy all of them from the store.
Still much cheaper than drinking, smoking and doing drugs !
Now, are your tomatoes in RO?
You are right, they are much smaller than mine of about 1/3. I am going down to take a picture.
What is the temperature in the room?
If I keep the laundry room door close, I normally average 80-85F with the lights on. At night I keep the heating mat at 75F, just in case it gets cold ... but not lately.
my lights are on for 12 hours each day right now.
before the seedling germinated, only 8 hours.
Here are the two shelve I have on right now.
Upper one T5 and heating mat. Seeds started on 12/31/2012. Re-potted once.
Upper floor with T5 I have a few of the smaller tomatoes.
T5 lights seem to reach even the smaller/shorter plant. In stead the regular shop light are not strong enough to reach the leaves on the smaller plants if they are surrounded by larger tomatoes.
I also have peppers, eggplants and a few zucchini growing under those lights.
Growing different varieties of tomato together is a lot of fun.
Look at the pictures of the leaf curled down below. It is from GRAPPOLI D'INVERNO tomato (in Italian means Winter Grapes).
Last year I grew two plants and I was so worried because the upper leaves were always curled. No problem of pests or production ... actually I had so many tomatoes from this variety and the plant kept going even during July !
That's why I am not worry anymore. I am growing six Grappoli D'inverno plants right now, and all of the upper leaves are curling. Those are the only six tomato plants, in the 100 I am growing this year, that have those characteristics.
Now I know that Grappoli D'Inverno does have curled leaves.
Lack of sufficient light might be one explanation for the sub-par growth of my tomatoes so I'm exploring getting additional light fixtures, either T5 or T12 although I like the low profile of the T5 better. After seeing drthor's set-up I would like to buy one of those honking 6 bulb fixtures to go on my top shelf. It appears that the light coming from her top shelf fixture is almost equivalent to standing next to the sun.
You're being too kind as my tomato seedlings are maybe 1/10 the size of yours, not 1/3, and we do almost everything the same way. Yes, of course I use Roots Organic. I leave my fluorescent lights on about 16 hours a day but I leave the heating mat on set at 80 degrees 24/7. I only do this when I have a mixed flat of some seeds that havenít germinated and some that have. The room temperature stays at a constant 72 degrees. Now I'm questioning my use of plastic cups when potting-up my seedlings. The plastic doesn't breathe like peat pots so maybe the roots are oxygen starved. So I'm making a mid-course correction and using 4" peat pots when I pot-up.
Besides the lights situation and the potting container, I can't think of anything else that would account for the differences in our results. I guess that I have to concede that youíre the superior gardener, until hopefully someone comes up with a better explanation. :)
My problems are solved, maybe. I just bought a six bulb, T5 light fixture. That should give my tomato seedlings a good tan.
As for as containers for potting-up seedlings, I realized that I can't use 4" peat pots since they are not tall enough for my 8" tall spindly tomato seedlings since I like to pot-up my seedlings by burying them with the soil line up to just below the first set of true leaves. If I potted them in a 4" peat pot, I would still have 4" of plant above the soil line and it would be falling over (6Ē peat pots are too expensive for the quantity needed). One of my original reasons for buying 16 oz. clear plastic cups is because they are so deep. To solve the issue of plastic cups not allowing oxygen to get to the roots, I will take a small drill bit and drill a few tiny holes in the sides of the cup to let in oxygen. Lastly, the problem of the top-heavy plastic cups falling over, I built little dividers out of balsa wood (see picture of my seedlings flat above).
the point of whether to fertilize or not isn't how "pretty" or "healthy" your plant looks. If you fertilize too early, you will get a beautiful plant, but you will not get the "yield" of tomatoes. Lots of foliage vs. tomatoes. It's your choice.
hro50, what did you see that made you believe the clear plastic cups were causing lack of oxygen to the roots? I have used them in several sizes for years with no problem (unless I didn't see it!) I go from 5oz t0 10oz, and then to 16oz clear cups- I think my plants are happy-? I guess I just don't like to overthink situations- I like to keep it as simple as possible.
I admit that lack of oxygen to the roots was a wild guess on my part and probably isn't the reason for my under-performing tomato seedlings. And I really can't see how it could possibly be a lack of enough light either. So I'm back at square one and still looking for answers.
You know Hr " I do not see a thing wrong with those plants , are they all the same variety , If all the same could it be their usual growth pattern.
Some will grow slower than others , than boom they are huge in three or four days ,,
in all of the years I have grown tomatoes, I never saw a difference with clear or coated pots. They show you that they are root bound by getting leggy - transplant them in another pot, put it under a little. Always worked for me. Tomatoes are the easiest thing in the world to grow! They are simple and don't need fussying on!
Thatís why I've dismissed oxygen deprivation as a reason for my tomato problem, although it might apply to my brain which would explain a lot.
There are at least 8 different varieties, not just one. Iíll post a picture later showing the seedlings Iíve not potted-up showing seedlings from 0 inches tall (i.e. dead) to 8 inches tall, all very spindly, all sown on the same day, 1/1/13.
Yes, I keep a rotating fan blowing on the seedlings from the time they are about 2 inches tall, if they make it to that size.
Thanks for all of your suggestions but the only solution I can think of is to contract with drthor to grow all of my tomato seedlings and then my tomatoes will look as good as hers. Right, like that's going to happen during my life time. :)
Hrp50 YES , I saw the spindly difficulty, I was talking more about the potted up, if their many different varieties you will begin to consider all tomato plants are not the same , you are using a standard average .
Now I guess you are back to soil ph , water ph , and temperature,
Water ph can slurp the oxygen from your plants and soil if it's wrong ...
I think you mentioned that some place earlier though...(the ph thing)
It takes a while ,we ain't Grandma in the garden overnight,, she was good ,, Mine can grow 3 to 7 pd tomatoes , I still after 40 yrs wonder how she would do that some times , and I even knew(and know) the tomato plant she was growing...
when you are potting up your tomato seedlings you want to make a hole in the middle of the 4" pot with your finger and try to push down the roots as much as you can.
Cut first and second leaves if they are below the soil line.
More stem you have underground more roots the tomato will produce.
Look at those pictures from last year. You can see where I did potted up.
From two experienced tomato growers I have two opposite opinions I think. Gymgirl says leave them on and drthor says cut them off. Just last night I accidentally cut off top part of the seedling, i.e. the true leaves, on two very nice plants when trying to cut off the cotyledons and I have done it before That's why I asked the question. I guess I need one more opinion so I can go with the best two out three.
hrp50 ... oh no ... you cut off the top of the plant !!!
OMG ! every season will not be the same without your accidents !
So yes, keep the leaves on and just bury them down ... the most important thing is to have as much stem as you can below the soil.
The leaves will just fell off !
Do the same when you will transplant the tomatoes outside ... maybe then the trunk will be much thicker and you could see it better !
"My name is Kevin & I have ETSSS. I thought I was in remission, but a SINGLE phone call to Gymgirl threw me off the wagon..." LOL... And yes, I hit the ground hard!!!
I got my seeds started on January 21st, moved the seed shelf from the outdoor workshop (no heat), to our grand daughter's room, with a heater. She thought it was cool all the plants but she's not here all the time, so it's just temporary. Actually have had some decent luck this go-round with about 120 tomato starts.
I've already potted-up some cukes & okra seeds and am in the process of moving about 30 tomatoes for the first p/u. Getting ready for stage 2 of 2013 season. Found single & double seedling heat mats, for pepper & eggplants, locally for a halfway decent price & Tuesday will get 3 new 4' T8 lights for the shelf. Thank you Uncle Sam for my tax refund check!!! Will have to get some more IHORT plugs. This was my first experience with them and they are great to repot & SO much cleaner to work with.
I'll get some pics of the tomatoes I'll move tomorrow. It's nice having the heavy Belden pots to move them to grow out before going to the garden.. Those got reclaimed from a local grocery store with a large garden dept. Great find, 65-70 6" pots with trays, and about 130 3.5"... Saved about $100 just by asking..
My goal was to transplant out my tomatoes on February 24-25 (look at the M. Thun calendar) ... but the weather is just too nice here and I am tempted ...
I could transplant out on February 15th !
I know that we might have for sure another cold spell ... or maybe not ...
What do y'all think my Dallas fellows?
this will be my third year growing Okra successfully.
I have read that you already are growing Okra. What will be your transplant outside date?
drthor, I really haven't had the time to work out the dates, but wanted to get everything started, and work out the math later... Having 6 different okra growing they should be fairly close together, so I'm figuring to try to start setting it out the third week of March. Of course, it will all depend on how the weather plays out. That will also give me time to get all my containers & mulch purchased to get ready for this year.
I wanted to "catch up", thinking I was real far behind, but the okra came up a little quicker than I expected. Also, I really wasn't prepared, so I jumped in with both feet. There was some spotty germination, so I'm going to do another run on some seed that didn't hit the first time. I got some bad okra seed from Baker Creek last year, and the replacement didn't do any better, so I'm going to check and see if any is still viable. I'm doing fabric containers this year exclusively, so if it doesn't go well with the weather, I can take steps to protect the plants if needed, so in the end, hopefully I'll be ahead of the curve...
With some long term weather predictions having us warmer & wetter the month of February, I'm really rolling the dice. The third week of February will really let me know if I'm going to look like a genius, or a big dummy... I will be getting some seed mats this week, so I'll be getting the pepper seeds going and will add okra with them in the trays... Going to be very busy the next month, setting up some different projects between cleaning the rose bushes along the fenceline, and getting the rainwater recovery set up plus new irrigation going to the garden.
I have been watching the weather and I am tempted to transplant out my tomatoes on February 15th.
In the past three years my planting out dates were: Feb. 20, Feb. 18 and Feb. 18.
Following my bio dynamic calendar, I have two dates: February 15 and February 25-26.
I am thinking ... and I will decide maybe tomorrow after checking the weather again ... I will start to harden-off my large fruit tomatoes and the ones that have longer maturing time ... plant them out on the 15th.
"The North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar " is for the Northern hemisphere.
It is on Eastern time, so you will just need to follow the calendar removing one hour. I have been following this calendar for four years and I had great success ... maybe it is magic ... or it is all in my head ... but it is working for me.
I had never heard of the Thun calendar before but became more and more intrigued after going to Amazon and then checking further about Biodynamic gardening and who else sold the calendar. I finally wound up at the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Bio-Dynamics, Inc. located in Virginia. The name Josephine Porter sounded really familiar to me so I checked further. To my amazement I found that the original Josephine Porter Farm just 7 miles from me belonged to THE Josie Porter of Biodynamic gardening fame. One of her apprentices decided to carry on her work and established the Institute in Virginia. The original farm is today owned by the County but used as a CSA garden where one can buy shares to get organic food all summer which is why I knew of it. They also produce a wonderful Garlic Vinegar. I gather Josephine Porter developed methods of making unique compost which is available from the Institute in Virginia. Do you use these Biodynamic composts as well? This was all completely new to me except the name Rudolph Steiner since I am familiar with the schools, but I need to study this further. It certainly is a small world!! I don't mean to hijack this thread but I have had a busy afternoon thanks to your mentioning the Thun calendar!! If it works, great! But I am a little confused how this calendar can work for you in Texas and me in PA by just moving things a couple of hours when I can't even start seedlings for another month and a half! We're supposedly on the fringe of a blizzard on Friday!
what a great story.
I just follow Thun's calendar. It seems that it has the perfect germination dates.
How the calendar work ... let's say that you normally start your tomatoes seeds in PA in March. So you will look for a "FRUIT day around the time that you normally start your seeds.
For me, in TX, I start my tomato seeds at the end of December, so I'd look for a "fruit" date around that time.
The calendar will not tell you when to plant out tomatoes or peppers ... but WHEN it will be the best day.
You need to know the best time of the year to seed your crop for your area.
Is it still confusing? The book is very cheap. Just order and have a look.
The little booklet comes with a lot of instructions and also a large insert with the calendar. I laminated this page and put in a place that I can look at every day.
2/3 of my tomatoes are hardening off in the shade of my back porch.
At night they are coming indoor.
I will gradually move them to the sun light.
Planting out date: February 15th ... I hope
1/3 of my tomatoes are still indoor. They are the ones with days to mature under 70.
Planting out date: February 25-26th
Thanks - very interesting. I will order the booklet. I usually start my seeds the beginning of April but this year must move them up to middle of March since I will be away. Fortunately a friend is continuing to grow them out. I generally plant out the third or fourth week in May. Will be curious to see what the calendar says. I see you make a distinction between those that mature early and those that mature later.
lol..at 1st glance at ETSSS i thought..geesh..another disease i need to
watch for on tomatoes.. LOL
come to find opening this forum..im the one with it..heehhe
ya. ive done everything ..EXCEPT ..plant the seed..
potting mix .. check
plastic starter pots .. check
soil additive .. check
lights working.. check
bulbs working ..check
heat mats working ..check
kelp/humic acid mix for watering ..check
sounds like check list for sending a rocket into space..
:) i know im not alone..
im holding off till end of march..
i even have my mid sized pots (4") for transplanting ready too
then i put them in gal pots..then they go directly into the garden..
i did plant lettuce today though..
It's really kind of late for the symptoms of ETSSS to manifest itself but maybe this it the right time if you live in zone 5a. If you want a diagnosis from me then yes, you do show symptoms of having ETSSS.
so?? hrp ..can i do anything about this problem i have???
i guess i could..i dont know..if i should say it on this forum..
actually plant some tomato seeds.. yea.. there it is.. i said it..
ya.here in my zone its still a bit early.. and i guess weve been
bumped up with last revising of zones..provo is "maybe" in 6 now..
all i know is.. we still can have frosts in late may.. so.. i have all
my plants hardened off..and 1st part of june they go in..
havent lost any... yet...
I have learned that when you have a rather short growing season as we have here in Texas that it's important to get your tomato plants in the ground outside as early as possible and then be prepared to cover them and protect them if there will be a frost or freeze. Here we start having temperatures in the high 90's or low 100's in May and if the tomato blossoms haven't set fruit by then you are doomed to not having many tomatoes to harvest in June and July.
Since you do have ETSSS I suggest that you just go with it.
I grow long-season beefsteak heirlooms, with an average DTM of 90-120 days. If I don't get my seedlings in the ground by mid-February (at the latest), I may not get a mature harvest by the end of May, and certainly by the end of June, when I'm ripping all the tomato plants, anyway.
Attended two local veggie gardening classes recently, and the recommendation was to get tomato plants into the ground between mid- to late-JANUARY and mid-February.
I was a week late, going in on Feb. 23rd, instead of my target of Feb. 16th...
Next year, I'm backing that train up to the 2nd weekend in February.
My frost protection contingencies are in place, which makes this much EZier to do...
I have never had a year, except 2011, that I have not had tomatoes all summer long. Yes, it slows down but it never stops. Today as I was driving thru town I noticed that nobody has even tilled their soil yet. Not even the old timers that set the standard. But we have never had so many days of consecutive freezing temps at this time of year. Even my potatoes are having problems bc the tops keep freezing, this has happened before but not in March!
i lived in houston a million yrs ago..and i had to learn how to garden
down there..:) it was so hard for me to put tomatoes out in feb/march..:)
and to see the plants grow so fast..seemed like a ft a day..LOL
i dont know what our spring early summer will be like here.. hope it is
"sort of ""normal"" .. but we gardeners have to adjust to what mother nature
sends us.. probably why were so creative,clever with innovations in our gardening..
weve been having some "nice" weather as late..YEA !!
today it was almost 70F..!!! and sunny.. !!!
so..out the tomato seedlings went..
they got 4 hrs of good sun today..
they are on there 3rd true leaves now..and actually getting
close to where i need to transplant them into 4" pots..
its still awhile before i plant them out..i do let them "harden off"
for a week or so end of may..so when they do go out in the garden..
i seldom have any transplant shock..
i "only" planted 72 seed squares.. LOL.. why????
i only plan to put in 24 plants..
LOL.i always think.. "oh..what if i loose some" never happens..
"oh..what if we have a late frost " i dont plant until 1st week of june..
so.. LOL i'll be givin some away.. again.. :) neighbours dont seem to
Hi there. I also over seeded and am running out of room. I got over zealous and potted seedlings in 4" pots. I've already lost two but the rest seem to be okay. We have not had warm weather or enough sun to put outside. I still have seedlings to transplant but am going to wait longer. Here's hoping I'll be planting by the end of May!