Early Girls

CaraRoseApril 16, 2013

Hard to tell cause of the angle, but they're probably 1 1/2 feet high and close to a foot wide with the leaves.

Since this shot they've been repotted to a larger nursery pot and moved to a new shelf by themselves. I planted them deep in the new pots.They're now dwarfed by my super sweets too, which also are huge. I guess I did good on the lights, cause these guys are nice and wide and not leggy.

I'm going to have to start hardening them off soon, then am thinking of keeping them in containers outside and moving them in if it looks like it's going to be too cold.

I fully expected I'd kill them starting from seed the first time. I have three of each variety (super sweet, early girl, big beef, and brandywine) I wanted one of. I think I'm going to be giving tomato plants free to a good home once I'm sure I have the four plants I want.

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purple1701(5B Chicago)

CaraRose - where are you located? I might be able to take those extra plants off your hands if the time/place is right! Those are the exact varieties I was planning to get in a couple weeks.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 5:24PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Those are well beyond "transplants". They are plant plants. How long before you can plant those out? Now that you have the process down make a note for next year to wait a little longer before starting them. Smaller transplants will tolerate hardening off and transplanting much better.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:02PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

I agree with Dave.. But they should be fine.. When you start them? Your plant shouldnt need staking.. you need the light much closer and blast a fan on them.. They should be stalky and ready to take the wind from outside.. If you pamper them inside and they already need a stake, they are going to be beat up outside.. Next year start a month or so later, and put the light very close to them, and a fan on them.. When did you start them indoors? What light you using?

Joe

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:28PM
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CaraRose

I started these and the super sweets way too early, sometime in February I think. I was mostly playing around at the time and didn't think far ahead. Plus I was thinking I'd end up killing them. These three I almost did in peat pots with too much water.

My brandywines and big beefs I started more reasonably. Mid march I think. They're growing like mad too though, I'm going to repot those from 3: to 6" pots soon. But I think those will be the size I want when I get to plant them. I've seen varying frost dates for Chicago, the farmer's almanac says April 20, which seems really too early. Other sites say May 6, which seems much more reasonable.

I wanted to have bigger plants when I set them out, but didn't realize how fast I'd start growing. I've had them under T5 HO fluorescents, they're under a 4 bulb light, and perhaps 4-5" from the tops, I'm also supplementing side lighting with a 75watt cfl in a brooder lamp now that they're getting big.

Purple, I'm on the north side, Sauganash Park.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:30PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

Keep the plants 1" or so from the light.. They are in 3" pots, holy moly! I always start mine in big enough containers, mind don't need any transplanting.. I don't understand why people start them in such small containers... Don't forget a fan my friend!

Joe

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:59PM
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CaraRose

I germinated in peat pellets before planting in the 3" pots. The tomatoes did well and were able to force their roots through the pellets, but I'm never using them again. I started repotting some plants (peppers and basil) that were looking sickly, found that they had their roots locked in the peat pellet (I removed the netting before transplanting, but the peat was so dense the roots were blocked). I started to check most of my plants then, and even the ones that were doing well had roots growing around the peat rather than through it from the sides. Ugh. Freed the roots and repotted and they all ended up doing better.

I'll try to get a fan on them soon. They probably don't need the stake, but after transplanting them they were a bit droopy at first so I put the stake (or rather the barbeque skewer that I'm using in for a stake) to help prop it back up. They seem to perk back up after a few days past the transplant.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

T5 HO bulbs need to be further above the plants than the old T12 s to avid burning. 3-4" is common. So you are fine.

They are in 3" pots, holy moly! I always start mine in big enough containers, mind don't need any transplanting.. I don't understand why people start them in such small containers.

You also did good germinating and transplanting rather than just starting them in large pots just to avoid the transplanting process. The risks of that approach and the several reasons why transplanting is very beneficial has often been discussed here and the evidence is well-established.

I would agree with you that the April date for transplant is far too early. Many zone 5 sources recommend May 20-30th. So next year you can definitely start them later.

The idea of having nice great big plants for transplanting to the garden sounds good in theory but has problems in practice because they don't tolerate the transplanting process nearly as well as the recommended 6-8" size does. They suffer more transplant shock and can take longer to recover from it. Plus hardening them off has more risks than with the younger, small plants.

Enjoy your tomatoes! :)

Dave

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 12:51PM
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purple1701(5B Chicago)

CaraRose - I'm in Cicero, so I'll have to talk to my hubby about when/if we would want to drive up to your area. If we could though, is that something that you would be open to? I hope I didn't misinterpret your post, if you already have a friend you were going to give them to, or some other purpose for them, I completely understand!

And if you would be willing to let go of them, when do you think that might be? Obviously I'm looking at the weather same as you (love these thunderstorms huh??) so I'm sure that would determine when you pick your favorites and transplant them.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 5:32PM
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CaraRose

My sister teaches at an alternative school in Cicero.

I was going to offer to my brother first, but they don't have a lot of space so my guess is they won't take more than one. Other than that, I wasn't sure who to give them to and was just going to ask around, so if you'd like them, I'd be happy to give them to you.

With this weather (hear it might hit 29 degrees tonight! I hope my chard and fennel that are in the ground now make it!), I don't know when it will be. I'm hoping this is the hump and we'll start seeing the weather getting a little less bipolar. I'm hoping to plant out by mid-may.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

T5 HO bulbs need to be further above the plants than the old T12 s to avid burning. 3-4" is common."

I don't have any experience with T5 nor t12. But my plants touch my t8 bulb without burning..

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 12:30AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Recheck those last frost dates -- no way is April 20 right for Chicago. Mine is May 15 -- I plant before then, but know that I have no one else to blame if I have to scramble to cover them if a late frost is predicted.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:15AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

CaraRose,
I'm in portage park and sadly just started my seeds today!

If you have any extras I would be glad to take them off you hands, I am only about a 10 minute drive and would come to you or you could bring to me, whichever you prefer.

I have about 500 seed packets if you'd like an exchange. I have extensive greens varieties, toms peppers eggplants, winter and summer squashes, cukes, etc. Oh - herbs and flower seeds too. Lots of variety - let me know if you are interested!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:25PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

regarding chicago frost dates - april 20/21 is the average last frost - so about 50% of last frost may come after that date. So 50/50 you will have trouble

May 10/15 is 90% of last frosts - so only 10% come after that - so 9 out of 10, you will be ok :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:43PM
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CaraRose

Had to accelerate my hardening off schedule.

Well, my basement flooded with the torrent we had :/ and that's where my grow lights are. I've had to move the tomatoes out while we clean up. The smaller ones are in my shelf green house. The big ones I have next to the garage in the shade and somewhat sheltered from wind. Hopefully they'll do okay. I need to repot the super sweets into larger nursery pots, they're not super stable in the 6" pots.

I'm going to try and bring them in overnight if it gets cold, but right now, we're in massive clean up mode. First tome we've flooded in at least seven years. Ugh.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:42AM
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purple1701(5B Chicago)

CaraRose - oh wow the basement flooding issue sucks! This is probably too little/too late, but if you can afford permaseal that would be the way to go. That and a standpipe (google "basement standpipe" as there are many kinds of stand pipes, and this one has to do with physics and the water table.) I don't have anything to offer in trade, as this is my first year gardening, and of course family comes first so by all means give the plants to others. We honestly aren't in your area very often and I don't know when we would be without talking to DH and he's a bit busy with grading lately (he teaches). I'll check back maybe in a couple weeks or so though, and if you still have them and we can make the trip up, maybe I'll get lucky :-)

I do make homemade bread if that would suffice for trade lol

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:59AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

CaraRose -
Hope your basement situation is resolved.

How are your plants coming along? You said you were excellerating hardening off - did you plant out? We have bad tomato weather this weekend, I'll be starting hardening off this tuesday when it warms, and planting out over the weekend of the 18th.

My guys are super little still, only 3 weeks since I paper toweled them, but doing good.

To compensate for my late start, I have 3 tiny tims for pots and 2 siberians which are early and determinant. both under 50 DTM, so hoping that will bridge the gap till the rest come on.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:28PM
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CaraRose

I have the super sweets and early girls in some nursery pots and the big beefs and brandywines in 6" pots. Other than some leave burn (mostly on the lower leaves), they all came through okay. Two of my early girls that were flowering inside both have their first fruit starting.

Hoping to finish my new raised bed and get them in the ground this weekend. Like you said, weather is lousy though, it's going to drop to 36F overnight! Bah! I'm so done with that!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 12:14AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Good luck with them. I have some direct seeded cukes out, putting on double layers for them these next few nights.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 3:04PM
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CaraRose

Brought the super sweets and early girls in tonight with the frost advisory, stuck the smaller plants in the shelf greenhouse and zipped it up. Hoping it won't get cold enough to kill my pole beans that just started popping up.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:10PM
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purple1701(5B Chicago)

CaraRose - just wanted to let you know that we got some seedlings at a tent sale in a grocery store parking lot near us (was super convenient, and actually had a great selection) so I hope you find a good home for these!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 12:14PM
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