Hoophouse and Tomato Plant Woes - Please Advise!!!

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Wannabee, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Wannabee

    Wannabee Foggy Dew Farms

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    Well, I built my first ever hoophouse, and I must say, I was pleased. I didn't think it would look that nice.

    I planted tomato plants (about 300 from seed) the first week of March. Several people made the comment that if I plant them the first week of March that they would be ready by Mother's Day.

    Everything was going fine until about 7 days into the process. For about 48 hours we had fridgid winds, that tripped a hole in the plastic, allowing cold winds to cool down the hoophouse dramatically. (about 35-40 degrees).

    It has been almost 4 weeks since starting them, and so far, there is NOTHING growing in the house (except for some moss). I looked around the seeds yesterday, and there are no roots or anything.

    3 questions:

    #1. Was it a complete failure because the seeds froze about a week into it? COuld that have caused the problem??

    #2. In a hoophouse with clear plastic 6mil, do I need to have some artificail lighting? I guess I thought that sunlight could pass through the plastic easy enough, but maybe I was wrong...

    #3. DO I still have time to re-seed 300 plants so that they will be ready for planting??
     
  2. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Tomato seeds don't need light to germinate but they do need heat. We like to have the planting mix about 70 degrees and the seeds germinate within a week. So if your seeds had not already germinated it was not warm enough for them even before the big freeze. Before completle giving up on this batch I would warm some up - place one or two flats on a heating pad or a warm spot in your house and see if anything happens.
     

  3. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    First, I would say that planting seeds in March for fruit in May is wishful thinking. I plant my seeds inside in late Feb./early March, for transplants that go in the ground outside in late May, and get the earliest fruit in July.
    So I suspect that planting in March would mean planting out transplants, which you should have seeded inside in January or earlier.
    It takes 90 to 120 or more to go from seeds to fruit with tomatoes.
    I keep my seed trays at 75 to 85 degrees until the plants are up a couple of inches, so I don't think you will have much luck with what you planted--if they had started to sprout, I think that they were killed by the cold.

    Jim
     
  4. Phantomfyre

    Phantomfyre Black Cat Farm Supporter

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    I agree about heat. Are you sure it's warm enough in there for germination? Tomatoes are heat-lovers - they won't germinate or grow well unless the soil is warm. If it's not 70+ degrees in there, they're not going to do much for you. I start my tomatoes in the house under lights. Even then, it's not as warm as they would prefer, so they don't get very big for me in the house. But it gets them started... If I had a hoophouse, I'd start mine indoors, and when the temps were warm enough outside to keep that hoophouse above 70, I'd move them out there and watch them grow like gangbusters! I'd bet I'd have some lovely transplants that way. :)

    Diana
     
  5. twind59

    twind59 Well-Known Member

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    Wannabee, Congrats on the hoophouse...wish "I" had one. I'm just south of you in Indy. I was thinking that if I had a hoophouse I would still start seeds indoors as I do now. Perhaps a space heater would keep things warm enough at night and cool days in the hoophouse. In any case....it's not too late to replant. I would think you could always transfer to the hoophouse after the seeds sprout....especially things like cabbage and broccolli. Tomato's might need to wait till the nights aren't too cold. Still...a hoophouse should help you get them outside sooner.
    Barry
    Indianapolis
     
  6. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    I assumed that a hoop house was used for growing seedlings and that they would have to be germinated elsewhere.

    A germination chart I have shows that tomatoes require a minimum temperature of 50º for seed germination.

    A different chart shows that at 50º it takes tomatoes 42.9 days to emerge.
    The chart also shows 59º=13.6 day for emergence, 68º=8.2 days, 77º=5.9 days, 86º=5.9 days, 95º=9.2 days, 104º=will not germinate.
    Such a chart was posted just a couple of days ago.

    Try bringing them into a warm environment and see if they won't go ahead and germinate. I'll bet they will.

    May I suggest that in the future you purchase rip stop greenhouse plastic to cover your facility with.
     
  7. Wannabee

    Wannabee Foggy Dew Farms

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    Thanks to everyone for their advise! I just love this list. I will certainly take everyone's recommendations.....a friend told me that at this late date, I should just buy the tomato seedlings, replant them in gallon pots, give them plenty of miracle-grow, and then try to sell them around mother's day. Any other ideas?

    We are getting ready to put on an attached garage - it will be up by August. Next year I will start the seeds indoors in a heated environment, and then put them out into the hoophouse.....


    Thanks again for all your help!
     
  8. twind59

    twind59 Well-Known Member

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    Oh Baloney...it's not to late. Go ahead and plant again tonight.
    Barry
    Indianapolis
     
  9. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    do you have any manure handy? if you had some fresh manure put in in a pot and maybe this could heat up the hoop house. Might could use a pipe from a flue or wood stove to blow in warm air?
    Just some ideas. Hope your tomatoes recover.
    tnborn
     
  10. EricG

    EricG Well-Known Member

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    Don't think it's too late. We started our tomatos in early/mid march and they are up about 8" now. That is under a 4' shop light. You should be able to get them going but you may need to put them under lights to get them growing quickly.

    Eric
     
  11. PonderosaQ

    PonderosaQ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Did you want to be selling these plants with fruit already on them? If so I agree with previous posters you would need to have seeded much earlier. Ones I seeded on Jan 15th are just starting to flower and they are specifically a cool loving early type.

    Given your location you still have time to get plants growing that would be a decent size by Mother's Day. As others have said just start them some place warm. I have a cool GH and have my tomatoes in a bed that is bottom heated by a waterbed heater. Another idea would be to sink the pots into a bed that a has soil warming cable in it. I've done that too and it works well. I would cover either of those options with floating row cover at night to hold the heat it. My GH is only kept in the low 40's at heat.

    Replanting bought seedlings is an option but you'd need a cheap source for them. Pots and soil costs enough without adding bought seedlings. I couldn't get them for less than 30 cents each minimum and that not till later in the saeson anyway. I don't have access to wholesale growers where I am.

    Anywya good luck to you with your venture and please let us know if any of the original seeds germinate for you,

    PQ
     
  12. Wannabee

    Wannabee Foggy Dew Farms

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