Tomato seedlings dying

farmingvillefarmer(East Coast zone 7)April 1, 2012

I'm having a major problem here. Just about all of my tomato seedlings that have germinated die right after their seedling leafs form. The room is about 70 degrees all the time and I make sure they have plenty of water. I started them all in jiffy7 peat pelets in the watering trays that hold up to 38 plants to start. There are four of these trays per shelf with three sets of florecent bulbs totaling six bulbs per shelf. I've done it this way for the last four years without ever a problem. Also dying are my Zinnias and marigolds. My eggplants and peppers so far seem ok. Some people say I may have over watered as the jiffy pelets are soaked to the point where if you take them out water will drip from them. Please help thank you

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Over-watering sounds like it may well be the problem, the roots need oxygen. When the soil is over-watered, the empty spaces (that contain oxygen) are filled with water and the oxygen is forced from the soil. Plant cells required oxygen for metabolism. More plants are killed by over-watering than under-watering.

See if you can set the jiffy pellets on paper towels to absorb some of the water, and let them dry out a bit. You want them to be moist, not wet.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:56PM
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farmingvillefarmer(East Coast zone 7)

Thx very much, everything is drying out now, unfortunately I have to buy new seeds and start over

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Our weather is still to iffy here in Medford so you have plenty of time for new seedlings.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 7:32PM
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I hate to say it, but you are killing them with kindness.

Over-watering tomatoes causes a fungal disease named phytothora to grow rampantly in the soil mix. Tomato seedlings are EXTREMELY susceptible to phytothora. The correct way to manage this problem is to underwater the seedlings. Let the soil dry out to the point the seedlings start to wilt. Then and only then, water them well and let them grow until they dry out again. You have to repeat this cycle of letting the plants grow for a few days and then dry out until the seedlings are ready to set out in the garden.

Once the soil mix is contaminated, it is impossible to grow seedlings in it. Please be sure to toss the soil mix you started the seed in and use fresh sterile seed start mix such as promix BX, Fafard, sunshine mix, or miracle grow seed start mix.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:13AM
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I have same problem and The room is about 55-60 degrees all the time but tomato did not grow proper way. I thought that I will try again and buy new seeds. Hope anyone can give me idea.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:12AM
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this year, my tomatoes were not doing as well as any previous year. I had changed soil companies, so I changed back. found that I needed to add more fertilizer. But this year has done wonderful for peppers, which normally don't.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:00PM
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