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Transplanting Tomato Starts

Posted by garf 10b/Fla. (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 1, 10 at 19:19

I usually start seed in small groups in small pots, usually about 6 at a time. Soon after emergence, I break up the soil with a pencil and pull the sprout up and replant it into a larger pot. Lately not many are surviving transplant. I think that I am either injuring the sprout or transferring a disease to it. How large should the sprout be before I try this, or is my method flawed?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Transplanting Tomato Starts

You are transplanting them too soon. When a seedling first breaks the surface, it basically has no roots--just tiny little things that will soon become roots. If you disturb them then you are cutting down the chances of the roots taking hold.

On the other hand if you wait until the plant has it's second set of true leaves, it will have set down roots but not enough for them to get tangled up. If you've planted the seeds in a loose seed starting medium they should come out easily enough at this stage.

I start all my seeds in fairly large flat containers that hold only 2 inches or less of soil. Depending on the number of seeds in a package and the size of the container they may hold a full package of seeds. I lose very few plants when I transplant. I soak my container just before I transplant. It is easier to remove plants from sopping soil than dry soil.

RE: Transplanting Tomato Starts

  • Posted by garf 10b/Fla. (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 7, 10 at 15:29

It would seem to me that at that stage there is less to damage. It takes more force to move a larger seedling and there are more fine root hairs to damage on a larger seedling. I might be wrong, but that is my logic.

RE: Transplanting Tomato Starts


I can attest that oilpainter has it right. I do it the exact same way (I've had well over 100 seeds in the same tray) with the exception I don't have the mix soggy but rather barely damp. I use my finger to make a hole in the target pot, gently pull up the plant, stick it in the hole and push the mix around it. Most of my trays have 18-36 cells (nursery flats) and after I finish, I soak the trays till they are completely saturated, thus helping the mix to settle around the roots. On a real bad day, I may have two plants not survive.


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