Newbie needs advice

NoRoom2GrowApril 19, 2012

Please look at these pics and captions and let me know if i am dlong anything wrong.

1St pic. Large Cherry Tomato seedlings are the bigger ones. The others are peppers.

2nd. Close up of tomato seedlings

3. 4 stems are longer than others with "true leaves" visible

4. Shorter stems close up

5. Close up larger (leggy) stems with true leaves

6. Another set on next windowsill

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They are "leggy"....they need some LIGHT ! You need a flourescent light about 1" above the seedlings to grow into healthy plants....

Also too many plants per jiffy pot...cut off the extras leaving ONE plant per pot (or try repotting the extras.....)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:46PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

It looks like they might need a weak dose of liquid fertilizer. Miracle Gro about 1/8 strength.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Mostly I think they are crowded.... I agree with abnorm: one plant per pot! I made the same mistake before, and basically they will just sit there and not do much once they reach this size until you thin them, because the seedlings are competing with each other for nutrients.

I also agree that more light would help with the legginess, but you can plant tomatoes very deep (I plant mine almost all the way to the top couple of branches) so the legginess is not so much of an issue. They will sprout roots all along the stem, making for a much stronger plant than if you plant them around the same depth as they are now.

You can also turn a fan on them (set to low of course!) for 15 minutes or so a few times a day (use a timer to make this easier). You would be amazed how much stronger the stems get in a short period of time doing this. I do it every year about this time in preparation for putting stuff outside on the seemingly always windy porch.

If you think you might want to get more into starting seeds I would recommend getting a small florescent fixture for extra light. It doesn't have to be fancy, either.

I have 2 fixtures that I use. One is "fancy" as it is a dual t5ho that came from a planted 75 gallon aquarium that I have since gotten rid of since we moved to an upstairs apartment. The other is a 4ft dual shop light that cost $9.99 at Home Depot. Just hang it on a couple of s-hooks and you'll have plenty of light, especially since you can hang it a few inches from the plants and raise it as they grow to keep the same distance. I would recommend buying the plant bulbs at the hardware store as well; they do make a difference as the light is more tailored to what green plants need for photosynthesis (a reddish hue) rather than what might be visually appealing to humans (more of a cold blue tint). Both red and blue are fine for plants (don't bother with incandescent though) although I prefer reddish bulbs for growing plants as I find that blue light alone will allow things to get too leggy. Of course there are many schools of thought on that, but trust me, either one will be just fine for raising a seedling for a month or two.

If space is an issue, you can find smaller t5ho fixtures in the 24 inch range for about $50 on craigslist pretty often, or about $90 new. Or you could get a couple of cheap florescent 24 inch fixtures for $20 or so (maybe even along with a tank) on CL. Even new 24 or 18 inch aquarium fixtures are cheap, and generally come with a bulb ready to go (and grow!).

Good luck! If you're interested, check out my blog and the seeding table setup I constructed with the lights I mentioned above.

Here is a link that might be useful: my container garden blog

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 12:10AM
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I'm new to gardening also. I read that it helps to run your hand over the seedlings to simulate the wind. I tried it on one group of seedlings and left the other alone. There was a big difference in the plants that I "roughed up" a little--two or three times a day. I have transplanted them in my container garden outside and they are strong and healthy.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Thanks Everyone for the input.

I had some lights laying around the house with fluorescent bulbs already in there.. 2 Desktop Lights and 2 Ott-Lites that were used for crafting, sewing ect by the ladies of the house.. Those things were $90!

Anyway, I put aluminum foil around the tray that has the seedlings and put the lights on them.

Here is what everything looks like now:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 1:36AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Looking good! If those are T12s, they should be very close to the tops. T12 refers to the diameter of the bulb. T12 is the commonly available kind that puts out 10 watts per foot of length. T8s are narrower and brighter. T5s are the narrowest and brightest and need to be about 6 inches above the plant tops. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:01AM
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I wouldn't sweat it too much. You can bury them deep.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:21AM
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I was thinking about potting them up as soon as the 2nd set of true leaves emerge.

Or, should I leave them in the peat pods as they are and just plant them in the intended containers when they get bigger?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 1:56PM
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I have potted-up at the stage yours are now without problems, but you can wait until 2nd set of true leaves. I always bury them deep as another poster suggested. When planting outside, I do the same-bury them as deep as possible,sometimes even removing very first set of true leaves. They will develop many roots around buried stem.
Your seedlings look good.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 2:11PM
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Here is how some of the tomato seedlings look now:

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 10:34PM
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those are looking great!

I would wait to pot them up until you're ready to put them outside, but that is just me. As others have said, plant them nice and deep!

BTW, deep planting also works for tomatillos and okra.

I posted a few pictures of my Green Zebra and Black Krim tomatoes on my blog (link below). As you can see, I let them get fairly large before putting them in their outside pots. My thought process is to minimize the transplanting the plants go through, and I've always had very good luck with them.

Good luck with the tomatoes! When do you usually put them outside?

Here is a link that might be useful: picture of my now quite large Green Zebra and Black Krim plants!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:46AM
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This is my first year seed starting. Previous seasons, I would usually buy transplants around this time and wait until the last week of May to plant outside.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 1:56AM
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