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Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

Posted by brandymulvaine Z5 MI (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 5, 09 at 17:40

I saw them over on the other side and noticed how close your lights were, which makes me wonder of mine should also be that close! What I have is a 55 gal aquarium with 30 seedlings in it. I just used a shop light, so it's all the way up at the top of the aquarium. They're about 15 in from the light and have not gotten their true leaves yet so their still itty bitty.
Also what types did you get? I would love to try some of the more exotic types, but I think I'm too far north!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

Let's see...

These 6 varieties are the ones in the photo under lights.

Beefsteak: Red. 12-16 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 60-90 DTM. Great for slicing and sandwhiches.

Rutgers: Red. 6 oz fruit. Determinate. 75 DTM. For canning. Abundant supply.

San Marzano: Red. 4 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 85 DTM. Best choice for sauces and canning. A Roma style tomato.

Bursztyn: Orange. 8-12 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 69-85 DTM. Slicing, salads, and canning.

Green Zebra: Green with yellow stripes. 6 oz fruit. Indeterminate. 78 DTM. Tart and acidic. Should be good for salads and canning.

Hawaiian Pineapple: Yellow-Orange. 12-16 oz fruits. Indeterminate. 93 DTM. Very sweet.

I've grown beefsteak and San Marzano before. The other 4 are new to me.

I sowed 12 kinds of cherry tomatoes today. I used 9oz cups and put at least 3 seeds in each cup. I sowed 3 cups of each just to make sure I have enough to give away. I'll keep one of each for myself.

Brown Berry Cherry
Black Cherry
Yellow Pear
Italian Cherry Red
Sweet 100
Large Red Cherry
Black Stripe Cherry
Swander Cherry
Purple Cherry
Jet Star

When I sowed the first ones, I did those indoors. I used a shoebox plastic container and used bottom heat to germinate them within a couple days.

After they germinated, I transplanted them to individual 9oz cups. I didn't wait for the second leaves. I buried them almost to the bottom of the leaves and set them under lights.

To keep them short and reduce the leggy problems I've had, I put the lights as close as possible without touching. In this picture, they're almost too close. But I'll be moving them in and out of doors for the next week or two. I need to free up the space, and it's going to be really nice here for at least a week. I'll bring them back inside at night.


Yes, I know I can wintersow in my area and I did that with the cherry varieties, but I love tomatoes. I want to have as many as I can as early as I can for as long as I can. I'll even take cuttings during the growing season to increase my harvest once I decide which ones I like the best.

On the light issue, I actually have 2 4' shop lights over that shelf. I've found that one will work, but two gives me much stockier plants. If you don't have the space, line the inside of the aquarium with aluminum foil. That will reflect the light back and keep the plants happy. Just remember to make sure they have fresh air. I also have a fan sitting at the end of the rack on low.


Also, once you get a little growth on them, you can do a technique called supercropping. You take the stem and gently squeeze it between two fingers. You just want to "crush" the stem enough that the plant has to regenerate itself before it can start growing again. It's like muscle building for your plants. It's really good when you are trying to start indoors and there's a long time between plant out and germination.

Aside from that, I've fertilized once, about a week after I potted them into cups. I'll fertilize again Sunday and pot them up into larger cups in another week. Bury the whole stem and it will grow more roots. More roots means more tomatoes and better tasting ones.

My dad actually plants his on their side. They form huge roots all along the buried stem and survive the SC Zone 8 summers with little extra water.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

Token do you ever get a white powdery mold on the soil of your tomatoes. I discovered I have it when I came home last night and I am guessing it is because I water in the evening. but I dont have time to do it in the mornings before I go to work.I dont know if I should be worried about this affecting the health of my plants or the fruit. Is there a way to get rid of it?

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

Do you bottom water or water from the top? I have some seedlings in the basement that have some whitish mold on the soil because I was lazy and watered from the top. Just add a little Hydrogen peroxide to your water. Or weak chamomile tea. That should get rid of it. And always bottom water, which I don't always do either.

Since I run my lights 24/7, they don't care when I water, but I always try to make sure the soil is almost dry before watering. Even with a fan, I only water every 3-4 days right now.

I put everything outside this morning. Gonna give them a few days of in and out before I pot up to a larger cup. Seems the larger cups are growing much faster, but I really want to keep them small for now. Less chance of breakage.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

  • Posted by pvick z6B NYC (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 7, 09 at 11:37

Thanks for the lesson, token! I don't start plants indoors, but this is really good info to have.

I'm going to try the "supercropping" technique on my WSed toms. Think it will work?


RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

It should. Since you have limited space, it will keep their heights down. There's a thread on the tomato forum where someone is taking supercropping to an extreme.

I found it when I was researching the cloning machine I made. Seems cannabis growers have all the best methods. LOL

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

thanks Token, I will try that. I dont bottom water because they are in flats and it seems a lot of trouble to get the water into the liners they sit in but maybe I will put out the effort. I read somewhere that they should have 10 hours of bright light with followed by a period of darkness or they will bolt so I turn the light off at night. but they have just been watered when the lights go off. I should quit that job it is interfering with all of my hobbies! haha
I wanted to take mine out today but I am afraid the wind is to strong.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

Token-"someone' that I know just ordered the cannabis bible and I couldn't believe how complicated it could get! But there were some really cool things in there also, like lining the inside of a little matchbox with sand paper to scarify seeds.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

You can always reverse the timing of the lights. Leave them on during the night instead of during the day?

You can also get "Daisy Tray". That's what I have all the cups in. I just sit the whole thing in a sterlite container with about 1" of water in it. The soil wicks it up into the containers.

Daisy Tray - Greenhouse supply.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)1

Brandy, I read some of that book a few months ago sitting in a Barnes and Noble. They are very similar in growth habits and like the same soil, lights, etc. I'm surprised they aren't in the same family classification.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)3

And in case you can't find a matchbox, a pill bottle with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around the inside works great for "hibiscus" seeds. ;)

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

reverse the timing... Oh ... why didnt I think of that??? (headsmack) can we say ...we todd it!!! :)
aaaannnddd most of my seed trays are already in those daisy trays and they are sitting in the solid trays. So I could to that too. Is there anything you have not already figured out?

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

LOL. There is one thing. Where did I put that pack of lavender seeds when they came in the mail last September? I bought the collection from Park Seeds. I know they arrived. Now I can't find them.

Most of my knowledge is based on many late nights online reading GardenWeb starting last September. I've probably read every thread in this forum and the seed starting forum. I spent way too much on dead plants last year. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. I won't be buying anything this year. Unless it's a bright red crepe myrtle.

RE: Token-tell me about your tomatoes :-)

You will probably run across those seeds in a strange spot that you would never think to look on purpose. Like the time I lost my debit card and freaked out for 3 days ... finally at work I picked up the phone book to call the bank and there it was stuck in the yellow pages. Dont have a clue why. haha Now at work every time I say I cant find something my co-workers ask me if I have checked the phone book! haha maybe you should check the phone book! lol

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