Tomatoes Gone Wild!

loribee2(CA 9)April 9, 2011

My peppers and tomatoes have outgrown my light set-up! They were on a shelf but grew so high the plants were running into my lights. I've had to fashion something new:

This is my second year starting from seed, and I have to say my results improved tenfold over last year. These are my plants at 60 days:

Last year, I didn't have the light set-up. Instead, I was trying to move them out in the morning, in at night. A pain for sure, and I never got the good growth I'm getting this year. Another change I made over last year was to get rid of the Jiffy pots. I know lots of people here like them, but they didn't work for me at all. I had a tough time potting up when trying to plant "a pot in a pot". It was much nicer this year simply slipping the tomatoes from their yogurt cups, shaking off the excess dirt and burying them in the Soho cups. And they responded by taking off like bandits! Last year, potting up with a Jiffy in a Jiffy, the plants just sat there in their bigger container not really doing much. Though I confess, I wasn't using the lights last year either, so that could also share the blame.

I also discovered that the shop lights put out enough heat to keep these puppies warm and toasty during the day, thereby eliminating my need for heat mats. I've got them on a timer and by 8 p.m. the lights go off allowing the veggies to cool down in my unheated shed, only to warm up again the next day. I really think that warm/cool cycle has improved the performance. It should also make hardening off an easier process, since the environment is pretty close to what they'll get outside when I plant out next month.

I'm definitely happier this year than I was last. Though I didn't end up using many of the veggies I'd started from seed last year, it was completely worth the effort anyway. I think the only way you learn is to just dig in and give it a try. Evaluate what worked and what didn't. Keep reading these threads and learning from all the great experience here, then revise your plan for next year if the need be.

Can't wait for May when I can get these puppies in the ground.

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog

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Your seedlings look great! Most of the credit for the robust growth(not counting eliminating the Jiffy pots)I think, is due to the warmer environment with your "capture the lamp heat" with your new light arrangement. Al

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 2:26PM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Thanks, Al! I would agree, though I did the exact wrong thing when it comes to scientific experiment: I changed about 3 or 4 things all at once. LOL But the light set-up would go on my must-have list. Even though we get mild temps during the day, it's just sooo much easier setting the pots under lights and letting the timers do their thing. The heat they give off is a bonus. Last year, I was afraid to use the workshop because it wasn't heated. Turns out I worried for nothing.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 2:52PM
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Looking good.

I hope they fruit up and propagate!!


    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 4:03PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Those look great! I copied your idea and made a duck tape contraption out of white Styrofoam insulation. It was super light and easy to work with and really helped to insulate them against the cold of the basement. Mine aren't quite as big as yours though!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 8:10PM
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Good Tomato trees. The question is what are you going to do with all these Tomatoes. I am as built as you are I over grow seeds. I have about 59 trees from tomatoes to egg plants and you name it I have it. Then what I can not plant all these in my 60 by 40 Garden.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:35AM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Wow, Abe, that's a lot of starts! My spares go to friends and family who have gardens. I'm one of the few who starts from seed, so I've got a number of people anxious to take my spares off my hands, luckily!

Here is a link that might be useful: my blog

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:12AM
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Your babies look awesome! I know what you mean - I keep raising up my light each week and can't wait to get them in the ground. First year doing this and it's been so much fun. I started way too many (63 tomato plants) and only have room for 25 of them. The rest will go to family, friends & neighbors!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 1:11AM
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loribee2(CA 9)

Wow, those are great looking starts! And I'm with you on wishing I could plant. I'd started mine earlier this year, because when I planted them out last year around the first of May, they weren't as big as I'd have liked. But I also didn't have the good light set-up last year either, so they've done a lot more growing. I'm trying to hold off at least until 5/1. 5/15 would have been even better, but I'm not sure if they'll last in cups that long.

For me, I do think that when it comes to seed starting, the 3rd time will be the charm. LOL

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 8:34AM
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Thanks! Your tomato babies look aweseome! A little bigger than mine. It's my first time doing them & I didn't start them till Feb 27th. But, I can't believe how fast they've grown in the past 3 weeks. I have to start separating some of the plants again & they're getting too crowded all in their under-the-bed container. Will have to put them in 2 containers. Next year I plan on having two shop lights & moving them into two separate containers. Especially since I want to start more of my own veges next year.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 2:57PM
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