What have I done? :(

VivVarble(8B)February 24, 2014

This is a red currant cherry tomato, started Jan. 12th. He gets the same as all the other seedlings which are doing fantastic, all very healthy happy looking. I used Jiffy starting mix, under grow light for 12-14 hours a day, transplanted him up to his own container a few weeks ago, and all seedlings get bottom watered every 4-5 days as needed. I have 2 other cherry toms, same variety, and 1 is like this but not as bad and the other is very happy and healthy. Any ideas on what I've managed to do to the poor thing?

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

You don't mention what or how you have fed them? That is what I'd attribute the first picture to.

The second picture is classic tomato leaf roll, a physical response of the plant to inconsistent soil moisture levels - too wet follow by too dry and then too wet again. Consistent soil moisture level is required.

You can Google 'tomato leaf roll' for lots of info but generally it poses no threat to the plant and disappears once the moisture levels are stabilized.

Another slim possibility but can't be ruled out without much more info, is some sort of pest issues - primarily aphids or spider mites.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:02PM
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Dave, thank you for the reply. In regard to feeding them, I gave them about 1 tablespoon of coffee steeped in a gallon of water, once. Trying to stay organic and I'd read that was one way to feed them. Any suggestions as to a better option?

In regard to watering, what can I do to fix this? I bottom water every 4-5 days (when the soil is dry a knuckle length down) for about 20 minutes. All the cups have the same amount and same size drain holes. The table top they are on is level so they're all sitting in the same depth of water. Any recommendations?

I haven't seen any pests and I've been looking, I even broke out my reading glasses to get a really good look. I really appreciate the help, thanks.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:31PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I've never heard of using diluted coffee as a fertilizer. I would guess that it's NPK values would be very low. I think fish emulsion, or better, a combination of fish emulsion and seaweed (Neptunes Harvest is a common brand) is what many organic growers use. Jiffy mix doesn't have much if any fertilizer in it to start with. My guess is they your plants may need feeding. This one may be more sensitive than the others. Have you used this method successfully before?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:03PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I think I see light green aphids in the lower left corner of photo 2. It's just the one leaf, however, and the photo's a bit out of focus.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Oh yes! Well spotted MTO! I see aphids too!

Try squishing them or spraying them with soapy water, and that should fix the problem!


    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:23AM
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Thank you all for the replies. The diluted coffee is something I'd read on an organic gardening site, and this was my first try at it. As to what you think are aphids, those are small bubble like bumps, they're aren't any bugs on this plant or any of the others. I made sure to check every leaf of each plant with my glasses on lol.
I have fish emulsion but I don't want to use that in the house, it smells awful. I'll go find some seaweed since that is another option. Question is should I feed them now or wait until it's time for them to be watered again?

Sorry for this misspell on the pic lol, brain dead.


This post was edited by VivVarble on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 13:06

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 12:23PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Aphids are on the undersides of leaves, not the leaf tops so your follow-up pic doesn't help any.

And while I agree with the others that the lower left leaf in the second pic sure looks like aphids on the underside of it, I'll take your word for it that there are none there. But you need to carefully check the undersides to be sure - leave tops aren't relevant.

So, since no aphids the bump on the top of the leaves could be water blisters also caused by inconsistent moisture levels. In such small containers they may need more frequent watering. Can't know for sure without actually seeing them but I'd sure give it a try with at least a couple of them to see if the problem goes away.

As to the coffee as a fertilizer...one can read all sorts of things but that doesn't make them accurate. :) The use of coffee as a fertilizer is at the least a waste of time and at best very debatable.

There are plenty of real organic fertilizers available on the market but first you have to understand how organics work. Unless you have discovered the secret way to make any organic fertilizer work in a small container that contains no viable soil bacteria to convert it to a form useable by the plants then most liquid organics are a waste of time and money and the rest will be smelly.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:17PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I would also question the use of Jiffy starter mix. I have heard people have had trouble with Jiffy potting soil and I'm not sure if that is different than what you used.

The other thing I do when I start seeds is to use a rotating fan on the area where the lights and seedlings are, to increase air circulation and to produce stronger, stockier stems.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 1:25PM
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Dave, you're right, I only posted that one so that people could see the bumps. I checked the underside of the leaves as I've read several of your previous post in the past and you seem to know your tomatoes :). Since liquid fert is not going to help, what would you suggest? At least now I know plants don't appreciate coffee as much as I do. I'll try more frequent watering on him and his mate that also seems unhappy, thanks for the suggestion.

Prairie- I had read on here about Jiffy mix, but unfortunately I'd already used it, so it was too late to change. I haven't really noticed any adverse effects to the plants though. This tom and his mate are the only one out I of 36 that are displaying any signs of health issues, the other 34 are hale and hearty. Unfortunately, I've no room for a fan. I had also read this on the seed starting forum but I'm all out of room. Hopefully my next go at seeds I'll have the greenhouse I've asked for and will be able to accommodate one. I do fan them several times a day with a piece of cardboard though to give them what I can but I know it's not enough.

This is my first year back gardening after a very long hiatus and my first time ever starting from seed. I know I've got a lot to learn and I very much appreciate all of y'all's advice and help.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 2:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Viv I did not say "liquid fertilizer isn't going to help". I said you have to understand how organic fertilizers work if you are going to use them so that you can choose the right ones and that the ones you can use in this particular situation will be the smelly ones.

There is plenty of info available on this subject on the organic gardening forum here. But basically most organics require active soil bacteria to convert the fertilizers to a form useable by the plants. It is referred to" the soil food web".

None of those soil bacteria exist in a soil-less potting mix unless you add them yourself in some form or use one of the soil-less mixes that already have them added.

Fish emulsion works but smells, kelp and various other seaweed based products work because like the fish emulsion, they are already suspended in a useable form, but it too smells, worm tea, and compost tea can work for the same reasons but smell.

Bottom line, you want to use only organics then you have to put up with the smell or use a mix that has beneficial soil bacteria already added. Otherwise, like most do, use diluted synthetics when dealing with young seedlings and save the organics for when the plants go out into the garden.

Please keep in mind that organic growing/gardening is a whole school of thought with a big learning curve. It requires time and experience so it isn't something one can just jump into and expect success. While all that research and learning is being done you sometimes have to accept compromises. In the case of growing young seedlings one often has to choose between odors or synthetics. :)


    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 2:39PM
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Dave, thanks again for your reply. I've fertilized them so we shall see how they do. I'll post an updated pic in a few days.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 10:09PM
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