I really really want to start tomotoes from seed

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Quiver0f10, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    but everytime I try I fail. Can someone please walk a newbie through it? I live in Northern Maine, so they wont go in the garden till the end of May.

    Thank you!
     
  2. BrahmaMama

    BrahmaMama Well-Known Member

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    Wow...I can't believe you have problems with that, they grow like weeds for me. I just pop them in some soil add water and poof, it's all I can do to keep them under control!

    Is it a mold or damp off problem that they get? Maybe if you describe the problem we can help you better.

    I generally start mine on top of the fridge, it's nice and warm up there, then once I transplant them into a little bigger pots then they go onto the window sill in the basement. I give them a shot of miracle grow a couple times before trasplanting and pinch them back once or twice. Usually I start them in Feb. but find that a bit early next year I'll start them in Mar. Last year I used seed that I saved from a store bought Tom and they grew easy peasy.
     

  3. plantaholic

    plantaholic Active Member

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    Use pooting soil to avoid fungus. Or COOk it for quite awhile in the oven to kill them. Cover with foil to avoid smell. The fridge top is the way to go. Once sprouted, I immediately move to a shell close to my air/heat intake this provides "wind" to strenthen the stems. Just turn once a day to avoid leaning. Wait I have windows in the utility some people don't. Turn a small fan on for a little while each day. Don't over water. Don't let dry completely out though, to the point of wilting. Good luck.
     
  4. plantaholic

    plantaholic Active Member

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    Make that potting soil, the other make be really stinky

    Use potting soil to avoid fungus. Or COOk it for quite awhile in the oven to kill them. Cover with foil to avoid smell. The fridge top is the way to go. Once sprouted, I immediately move to a shell close to my air/heat intake this provides "wind" to strenthen the stems. Just turn once a day to avoid leaning. Wait I have windows in the utility some people don't. Turn a small fan on for a little while each day. Don't over water. Don't let dry completely out though, to the point of wilting. Good luck.
     
  5. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Where, exactly, are you having the problem? Germination, damping off, spindly plants ... help us troubleshoot!

    I am a tomato NUT :D and my life would not be complete without growing WAY too many tomatoes every spring! The advice you've been given thus far is sound. I like to start my seedlings under grow lights. I don't think you'll get enough natural light, even in a south-facing window, to make healthy plants in a Maine winter/late spring. Even under lights, mine don't really 'take off' until I put them in the greenhouse! And remember that tomatoes need nighttime temperatures in at least the mid-60s to grow at all!

    Tomatoes will put out roots from the stem. I start mine in 3-oz pots and transplant them into larger pots (usually tin cans) when I move them to the greenhouse. Since they're usually a bit leggy from not having QUITE enough light, I bury them right up to their lowest set of leaves, then again when I set them out into the garden.

    Don't start them too early; figure on a max of 10 weeks from planting until the time they go into the garden. Studies have shown that older plants will lose more in transplant shock than they will gain in being started early. Because it's a pain in the butt :D to 'harden' seedlings, I just set mine out under milk jug covers, which I remove when the plants show new growth (usually growing out the tops of the jugs!).

    Any other questions/problems/issues, feel free to ask! :)
     
  6. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you everyone. What I have done is start them in those small paper cups you can buy for planting? and then they always sprout up fine and then die. I have a big picture window that does get LOTS of sun. Matter of fact is gets down right hot from the sunlight. I usually use this spot and rotate the plants around.

    I appreciate the advice and will plan to do things differently.
     
  7. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    Would large soup cans work for this? Like the family size soup cans?
     
  8. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Soup cans should work. Punch holes in the bottom, you MUST have drainage. Set them in a tray. Your window may be too hot and cooking your plants.

    I save plastic drinking glasses all year to use for my plants. I put a couple of inches of damp potting soil in the bottom of a 16 oz glass. Drop the seeds in and cover lightly with dry soil (about 1/8 inch). Put clear plastic over the top and a rubber band to hold it in place. Then set it where it will get bottom warmth, but not in direct sun or it will cook. When the plants are up cut a slit in the plastic but don't remove it. Give the plants light but not direct sun. When they are about 3 to 4 inches tall I gently add moist potting soil around the stems leaving about an inch above ground. As they grow keep adding soil until the top of the soil is about 1/2 inch below the top of the glass.

    Water by setting the plants into a tray of water (or the sink) for a few minutes then let them drain.

    You want warm, not hot conditions and good drainage and air movement. And keep turning the containers around to get more even growth unless they have overhead light.

    I always like to start my own because I can't get the variety unless I do.
     
  9. Quiver0f10

    Quiver0f10 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks again! I can't wait to try again this year!
     
  10. chickenman

    chickenman Well-Known Member

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    Lots of good information here.

    No need to get real excited about tomatoes. I used to worry over them. Start them in the house in the middle of March, then they'd get "leggy". I'd try to harden them off and I'd lose half after transplanting.

    Since I built my greenhouse I've had nice tomatoes. I start them the last week of April, in my unheated greenhouse. By the time they sprout, frosts are rare. If it looks like it may freeze, I throw a cover over them or bring them inside just to be safe. They are plenty big enough to transplant the first week of June and there's no need to harden them off.
    I use seed starter mix from Gardens Alive and regular plastic six packs. They're cheap and reusable. I don't like tin cans or any of the other supposed money saving containers. But that's just personal preference, I'm sure they all work.
     
  11. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Tomatoes can be ornery to get started,really. I have two methods....in an old folgers plastic can with holes punched in the bottom I put good germinating mix,like ProMix and then wet throughly. Then I sprinkle my pkt. on top,spray lightly with water,cover with mix and water again firming seeds into the soil. Usually within a week they are up in the greenhouse. Whenever I try planting in individual pots they seem to dry off too fast. So,when the seedlings are up and have two sets of leaves I gently prick them out and transplant to individual pots,usually styrofoam cups that I collect all year at work. When the start getting too big for that they go in the big gulp cups I've collected. Trick is to transplant up several times for husky plants.
    The other thing I do in the fall is smash a ripe tomato of several of my favorites from the garden into a garden pot full of dirt...then just stick 'em in the cold greenhouse. In the spring when conditions are ripe they pop up like crazy!! Sounds nuts but it works...haven't you ever seen volunteer plants around the compost pile or in the garden? Tomatoes are pretty hardy guys.
    I do the same thing for green peppers with the coffee cans but add a little bottom heat with cheap-o home heating pads as they won't germinate at lower temps. This method works for me..started doing it when a friend who has a commercial business was sitting potting up 'maters and I saw that he started them all in a flat and then transplanted them. Figure since he makes his living selling plants he must know what he's about! DEE who says don't try to jump the gun starting your plants. We start tomatoes 1st of March to plant 1st of May here in southern mo.