I started tomatoes, peppers, and a few herbs in February. They started out great, but have hit a plateau and stopped growing. I have fertilized and transplanted to larger containers but most are still only 1-2 inches high. I was hoping to transplant to the garden this weekend but I think they are too small. Any ideas?
Do they have their first set of true leaves? I've planted seedlings before that were very small and never had a problem with them. They've always grown into large plants, I just make sure I'm careful with them when planting and really watch them for the first couple weeks to make sure they don't dry out. This is the first year I've fertilized my seedlings, I usually always waited until they were in the ground and a little bigger. I was always afraid I'd burn the seedlings up. Do you have any animals? You'll have to protect the little seedlings if you do, mine always like to sit on everything as soon as I plant it, they can't seem to find any place else in the yard to lay down...
I'm having the same problem with my cucumber, chard, collard, crookneck seedlings. Planted them about the last week in Feb. Now they're getting brown around the edges, too. I don't know whether it's soil temp or nutrition. Maybe I planted too early?? . (Feb 14 is our date of last frost, but we had one about a week later--seeds were in the ground but not up at that time) Do I pull them up and replant or what?
I wish my last frost was Feb. 14. They say it's Apr 15 but usually it's about May 1. The browning edges could be a lot of things-low humidity, burned from fertilizer or lack of fertilier, cold weather, etc. Are the browning tips the seedling leaves or the first true leaves? If it's the seedling leaves, wouldn't worry about it. Give them a little while and see if they come out of it. You could reseed now and leave the plants there, and if they come out of it just pull the new seedlings when they germinate.
I used to watch the weather every night to see how cold it was, had to run outside and pull all my seed trays in. Got hit a couple times by severe hail storms. I gave up on trying to put them out early and just wait 'til May. Can't really do anything for the bushes/perennials. They look really nice then we have a hard freeze after it's been warm a couple weeks. Then it all dies and has to start over, happens every year without fail.
Here is a mini greenhouse that I always put over my tomato and pepper plants incase...
It is just a gallon plastic milk container. I cut the bottom off. Cut out a door for ventilation, though you could cut it so that it would hinge to one side. I placed the open side towards the east. Great for hardening off plants and protect from frost. A dowel throught the center, stuck in the soil, holds it in place. Much better than can, which heats up.
You can tailor-make the size of the entrance according to the size of the plant. As the plant grows, just up a bit more.
Tomato and pepper plants will stop growing or slow when the temperature is below 65F degrees. Both are tropical plants and thrive in heat. Repotting to a large container before it is needed will also slow a plant's growth, and serves no purpose until it is needed.
I'm not familiar with your climate but know it is far ahead of Wyoming. If you have only light frost, you should be able to put out those young plants when they have 2 sets of true leaves. Size don't matter. Use my milk container greenhouse over each. I drove my family nuts saving milk containers during the winter. At one time, I had 36 tomato plants of different varieties since I did lots of canning and freezing while raising a family of 6.
If your ground is cool, vegetable roots will still grow, then shoot up with warm weather. By that time, they will be established. I sowed my own veg. plants and always sowed extra so I would have them to put out early. They survived light frost with the "greenhouse" and I had early tomatoes. No big deal if they didn't survive since I had extra plants.
I have had to put cardboard rings around my young tomatoe plants to prevent cutworms. They will attack a plant at the ground level.
Since your plants are small, why not plant them in a plastic ring cut from a soda bottle. Make it high enough to sink 1" into the ground, and 2 or 3" above ground. It serves as a well when you handwater young plants. It prevents water from running off. The water will go down to the roots.
Many tomato and pepper plant gardeners don't realize that when it states the number of days to ripe vegetables on a seed package, it isn't from date you sow the seeds. It is counted from the day you plant it in the garden.
On a different note, don't overfertilize vegetable plants or the energy will grow more to leaf growth, rather than flowers and fruit. Follow the direction that came with the fertilizer. My preferred fertilizer is Miracle-Gro. It contains everything a plant needs, including iron.
Good luck with your garden. Above all, have fun with it.
I have access to a greenhouse. Should I take my slow growing seedlings there or keep them at home? I'm worried if I put them in the greenhouse it will be more of a shock when I need to harden them off. It stays around 63 in my house, but again the plants have stopped growing, so I'm torn. I am hoping to transplant tomatoes outside in 2-3 weeks (our last frost date is early April). The peppers will be transplanted end of April. If small seedlings will survive when transplanted, I'll leave them at the house.
If you have access to a greenhouse, sure, move your plants there. As long as it does get down to freezing at night. The humidity in a greenhouse, plus the natural light will do them good. Also, daytime temp will rise with the sun. Find a place in the greenhose that gives morning sun to get the plants used to it. After a week, you can move them to a more sunny spot.
It shouldn't make it harder to harden them off from the greenhouse. It is harder to do so when they grow in a house. Leaf tissue on plants grown in the house is soft and offer no protection against sunlight. However, grown in a greenhouse in sunlight, the tissue will me able to withstand sun sooner.