Need advice! My seedlings are dying! watering issues.
Hi, I'm looking for some advice, I am desperate to know where I am failing my seedlings. NO MATTER WHAT I DO MY SEEDLINGS ALWAYS START DYING ON ME, ITS infuriating because NOTHING I DO WORKS. I've read endless articles on how to raise tomato seedlings/other seedlings, the advice seems easy enough and I follow the instructions to the best of my ability. But nothing I do is ever good enough. I bottom water my seedlings, and try to not 'over water' them, which I'm tired of hearing because I've found it literally impossible not to over-water them without them drying out if I leave them in my small green house (just a rack structure with plastic covering around it), it doesn't get that hot in it as it is still cool out. I come home and they are shriveling up and dying. I WAS SURE I WATERED THEM ENOUGH, without 'over-watering' them. I don't want to hear that I should 'let them dry out before re-watering them', THEY DIE IF I DO THIS. This is my second year, last year I had numerous problems as well, in spite of my best efforts (as in I check my tomatoes constantly and monitor them to be sure their needs are not being neglected. I tried to water with a certain level of precision so they wouldn't be too moist. Once again, when I came home, 1/3 to a 1/2 had dried out, shriveled up and died. So I watered them a bit more the next time, and then they started keeling over from the stem rot issue from too much moisture (the stem would look odd at the soil level and then the would fall over pathetically. I spent HOURS re-potting the stupid things trying to save them. This situation would repeat itself multiple times before I finally got them into the ground in late May). Again, evidence that nothing I do seems to work. I don't why i'm having such issues, it seems like most people can get this right. I'm not a newbie, I've been doing this for a couple of years now but I still can't get it right.
I am so frustrated right now, I recently started my tomato seeds on a heating mat, I used a mix of half soilless/seeds starting mix. They germinated inconsistently because once I took them off the mat (as the first couple started germinating), I can never seem to get the balance right with the soil moisture, and things start dying, and the rest don't germinate. I refuse to use the only soil-less mix, as many articles tell you is so perfect for seedlings. Its horrible stuff, I started some flowers in it, the mix doesn't seem to hold water at all, like I couldn't even get it moist enough to keep my flowers alive. I kept trying to get the soil at least slightly moist so my seedlings wouldn't dry out to no avail. Once again I would come home to a bunch of shriveled up seedlings after I had attempted to water them that morning. I spent a good hour or so re-potting them and swore I'd never use that stuff by itself again. I mixed it with some normal potting soil, and started my tomatoes. The same thing is happening, I either under water or over water, and they start dying one by one.
Last year I grew under a bunch of lights I had set up in my room, I refuse to do this again. It was way too much effort and my tomatoes were no bigger or healthier then my friend's who grows in the natural light/outside on warmer days. Somehow it works out fine for her. I've tried to mine her for information but she doesn't really seem to be helpful. I hope I can get some help on this forum. If my post is a bit of a rant, I apologize I am just so upset right now, I have to spend the rest of my Saturday morning starting seedlings all over again. I'm sure they will probably die just like my current seedlings.