potting up tomatoes

dmrodden(7b)February 15, 2013

I started my tomatoe seeds on January 12 and 18th. They've been potted up once and need to be again. They are huge healthy plants. I don't consider them to be leggy. My question is, I do SFQ. Is it possible that they can get too big before I get them in the garden? I thought about going ahead and putting them out and then making a cold frame, but I'm not sure that's a good idea because it looks like we will be back down in the 30 - 50 range for then next couple of weeks.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

My question is, I do SFQ. Is it possible that they can get too big before I get them in the garden?

Basic answer - yes they can. Transplant shock and subsequent death becomes a real problem the larger the plant. 6-8" tall is often recommended as the ideal transplant size. Some prefer to go for 10-12" but beyond that real problems can outweigh any advantages gained. And those measurements are for non-leggy plants with normal inter-node spacing.

For your zone you started way too early. I would suggest you start some new seeds now so that you have ready replacements for those that don't survive.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:26AM
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dmrodden(7b)

Oh, stink!! I honestly don't think I started too early, though. 8 weeks from last frost date is recommended, and that's what I did. Did same thing last year, but plants didn't grown nearly so big. Maybe I will start some new ones...

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:07AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

What is your last frost date? Are you 7a or 7b? For most of zone 7 it is Apr. 10-15th. That would normally mean starting plants in mid-February (right about now), not early January.

Of course you could always plant them out early under cover.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:24AM
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dmrodden(7b)

I'm 7b and have operated under the premise the last several years that our last frost date is March 15 to 20. I double-checked myself with our extension agent and that is what she said as well. Kind of bummed that I have these beautiful plants that may die because they're too big already! It's funny, though, because my grape tomatoes that I started on the 1/12 are my smallest ones. Thanks for your comments, Dave :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry don't mean to bum you out. If that is your frost date then you may be ok. I'm 7a and use Apr. 15th but most sources list 7b as 1-10 April but given the weather the past couple of years I think many are planning for earlier planting dates this season.

If you put them out say Mar. 10th or so the worst that can happen is you'd have to cover them some nights. But at least that way you can hopefully get some fruit set before the real heat kicks in in May.

Good luck.

Dave

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:28PM
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dmrodden(7b)

Well, hopefully this means I just have some super awesome plants and they will produce super awesome tomatoes :) More of a reason to make sure you plants lots of plants so you get lots of fruit set before the dang heat, huh? My plan was to can lots this year. Sure hope it works out!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 1:03PM
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