Should I be worried about my tomato seedlings?

Harleylove(9)March 14, 2013

Hi! This is my first time ever growing anything from seeds. I know they are leggy because I've been using a south facing window. I wanted to try grow lights but hubby was worried about the expense and where I could store them so I decided to just try it this way to see how it went first. They have looked great up until now(well, other than the legginess). It seems like since the first leaves are starting to fall off, other lower leaves are looking wilted, drying up, yellowing and fallen off. It's really only happened on two of them but I see signs of it starting on the other plants. I was hoping maybe some of you more experienced growers might have an idea of what may be happening from the picture. We have frost coming through tonight but I want to satrt hardening them off after that.

Any help is much appreciated!

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Here's a closeup

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 11:48AM
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Repot them in a deeper pot up to the bottom of the true leaves. Roots will develop from the stem & you'll have a great root ball.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:04PM
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How long ago were these plants started? What is your outside planting date, and are you putting them into the ground or into containers?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:41PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Any fertilizer yet? If not, they need some.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:27PM
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Thanks for your replies.

I was thinking of repotting them and will probably put them in the ground within the next 2 weeks (should I repot them still or just wait?). The last frost for my area is March 20th. I started them about 5 weeks or so ago and have not given them any fertilizer, they are still in seed starting mix. Maybe that's the problem.

Is there a certain fertilizer I should use? I did go to buy some but the guy that worked there talked me into using the household plant fertilizer I already have. Do you think that would be ok?

Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:47PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Waiting 2 weeks should be ok, but they definitely need a fertilizer that contains nitrogen IMO. You could also top-off those cups with soil.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 2:21PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Would it be a good idea for Harleylove to put the seedlings outside during the day -- but in the shade -- to begin to harden them off, and also give them a bit more light than they seem to be getting indoors?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:04PM
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I definitely would not bother potting them up.
For fertilizer you can use what you have, as long as it has nitrogen. Other natural fertilizer options include bloodmeal, fish emulsion, manure tea and worm casting tea.
When transplanting them out, you'll want to clip off some of the lower leaves and trench them in good soil.
Like missingtheobvious said, you'll want to start them in shade and very gradually expose them to direct sunlight. But you'll also want to keep them out of strong wind. Those big leaves are very soft and wind will chew them up, and stems can get crimped at the base seriously compromising the quality of the plant.
Below is a link with a diagram on trenching leggy tomato seedlings.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trenching Leggy Tomato Seedlings

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Use these two weeks to start gradually hardening them off. Really shelter them from wind since they are so leggy.

BTW, I had a lab for 16 years and her name was Harleylove. She was as fast as a Harley and we loved her dearly.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:55AM
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