are my leaves to big and is it time to harden off?

thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))April 13, 2013

Hey all,

I have a concern here for my "Ramapo F1" tomato seedlings. Are the leaves to large compared to the others within the plant? These 2 tomato plants seem to be the tallest so far out of about 10 of them. The others seem to be smaller and mre proportionate.

- The potting mix is Miracle grow organic choice (originaly started from peat pellet then Espoma Organic potting mix. I ran out and was force to by MR at the time.)

- Plants started germation March 15th (and poped in 4-5 days)

-I re-poted first photo plant 5-6 days ago.

- I water every other day and check if it is dry, I also rotate them.

- The Hydrofarm Grow T-5 Grow light at 6400k is placed about 3-4 inches above. I read the instruction on the Hydrofarm and they said keep light 6 inches from plants except right after germination. Now Rutgers University recomends (the instruction sheet I got with the Rampo seeds) said to place grow lights 4-6 inches from top of the plant so I have confusion here and keep it around 3-4 inches.

My other question are that is it time to start hardening? It my area (Philadelphia), the lowest night temps are about 42 F for the next 10 days (from reading the weather channel), but I think we past the last frost over 10 days ago and recently had a heat wave for 80+ F for a few days. The average days seems to be around 65 F now.

Thanks all in advance

- Mr Beno

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

Your last frost date is April 15th (same as mine) so plant out is 7-10 days later. You can start hardening off now if you want assuming you will give them a week or so to do it. I'm waiting until the end of the week to start as my extended forecast for the week shows 3 nights still in the upper thirties.

The disproportionate leaves happen with some varieties IME. Never found it anything to be concerned about.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:13PM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Thanks a bunch again to you Dave and everyone that answers on this forum for great advice.

I placed them out today, the weather was overcasted and around 60 F. I had them out for about 4 hours in the shade from the top deck (with out direct sunlight, even though the photos show a little bit). And brought them in tonight around 7pm when the temp was about 55 F. The temp was supose to be 46 F tonight with tomorrow getting to the 70's.

Tomorrow , I am placing them out around 8am on the other side of the house away from direct sunlight for another few hours, then will introduce them to an hour of sunlight and bring them back under the top deck in the back with out direct sunlight after my lunch break.

I probably am not doing it the correct way, but I can chance these plants (7 Ramapos) and 4 (4th of July plants) incase it does not work out. I got back ups planed every 2 weeks just incase.

Here is the photo today around 4 PM.

Thanks again all for the great advice. (And I know that I may be exposing them too much at first, but with work it is kind of hard to get the exact time ratio.) I also had a fan blowing on them for 5 days before at (3x) a day for about a half hour each time.

- Mr Beno

This post was edited by thebutcher on Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 22:24

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:22PM
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monet_g

Nice looking seedlings!

This post was edited by monet_g on Thu, Apr 18, 13 at 9:31

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:26AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Many thanks again for the comments Digdirt and Monet,

I am now about 5 days into the hardening off stage, this is what I have done so far.

- I Kept them out of direct sun for 3 days and left them out for about 4 hours the first time now at about 10 hours.

- They had no night exposure yet and just leaving them in kitchen on fridge at about 72 F

- Last two days exposed them to about 1-2 hours the first day and 2-3 hours the second day of sunlight.

@ thanks for the advice Monet and about the larger pot size, I am switching the red cups to a 5-6 inch pot and will get them ready tomorrow or next day with new organic potting mix I just got real cheap (All of these will be planted in-ground eventualy soon.) The only thing I fear now is that the temps for the next 10 days at night should average around 45-50 at F in the Philadelphia area. Except for the next 2 nights where it is getting to 34 F and just read a Frost warning an hour ago. (These Plants will be indoors).

I hope they make it out ok if it means being in the pots possibly a little bit longer, if not then I have back ups.

Thanks again for the great advice from both and for the rest of this forum that is really helping me out.

-Mr Beno

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Mr Beno,

What pretty 'mater babies! I am so jealous!

If you will be planting out into the garden in the next week or ten days, I wouldn't bother potting them up again. You might be introducing another level of stress on the plants followed shortly by yet another transplant. Far better, IMHO, to leave them in their current containers and just transplant one time into the garden. (Not to mention the fact that you will save the cost of additional growing medium and containers)

Betsy

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:43PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Not sure where you're getting a last frost date of April 15. Granted, I'm in the suburbs, and we're a few degrees cooler esp. at night, but I wouldn't plant out before May unless you're prepared to cover the plants if a late frost is predicted. I've always heard our last frost date is May 15, maybe a week earlier for the city. That said, the 10 days are looking good right now, but you never know.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:07AM
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monet_g

If you do pot them up, I'd pot them deep.

I agree you might be pushing your plant out date. Like caryltoo said "you never know". Besides, while I haven't followed the weather in PA, here in Michigan, it looks like Spring was cancelled. Temp 32* right now. Wind chills were in the teens last night.

This post was edited by monet_g on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 8:37

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:36AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Thanks again all,

I started germination on March 15th and I originally intended to have them be planted around May 10-15 and assumed on the 6-8 for planting out, but the seeds germinated quickly and grew quickly. The T-5 light was always around 3-4 inches and let them get about 16-18 hours each day. They were kept in my basement and I Think the temp is a constant 65-68 F.

If I am forced to re-pot them I will bury them deep. Tonight is supposed to drop to 38 F then mid next week it seems to be climbing near 45-50 at night for the next 10 days. If all else fails I got about 10 more that should be ready to start hardening off next week.

I will keep this thread updated and I want to thank everyone again for the great help.

- Mr Beno

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:46AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

Today I started to inspect some of the back up tomatoe plants and moved 5 of them out side in the shade for a couple of hours today. I need to do this because I am running out of grow light space and I thought these were getting to big.

Anyway the two photos below is the roots after I got the biggest one out of the red cup and put it in a 6 inch wide container. Why? because I am a noob :) but plus I think it is better to see what will happens so I can learn, the rest I will probably keep in the red cups until planted in ground.

As for the ones I shown before up above, I think I will put 4 or so in 15-20 gallon smart pots or bags. That way I don't have to worry about the soil being as cold or if a surprise frost occurs within 2-3 weeks. I orginally planned to do both, but not so soon.

And I am now germinating new back ups for the back ups just in case to plant around June 10th-15th.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 4:36PM
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monet_g

Those roots look great. I'd pot up the others right now. Otherwise, they could be root bound in just a couple weeks.

You're doing great for a noob and wise to know it's a learning process. I'll bet you'll have extra plants to give away.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:24AM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

First night out on the town for my babies. Tonight 52 F and should be ok besides some rain on wed, but these plants need to get a job now and stop relying on me. :)

They have been outdoors during the day for 2-3 weeks (about 4-5 hours of direct sunlight the rest shade). The night temps were to low about 42-45 F so I brought them in.

A week longer then expected but ohwell. I also saved the other half of the bunch to be out after the rains on Wed. I will update the photo to see how they did.

Thanks again all for the responses and great advice.

- Mr Beno

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 8:37PM
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thebutcher(6b (Philadelphia area))

They have been out for 2 nights and 3 days now straight. I went to my local nursery and bought Espoma Organic Bio-Tone Starter plus The guy said that this should be real good when I plant them in ground in my soil initialy? I will add compost as well to my ground soil if needed? My soil PH tested around 6.5-7.0.

I know they are long overdue to be planted and some are getting tall but no blossoms yet and they average 12" (except for the few Leggy ones). I plan on putting them out in a day or 2 depending on Monday/Tuesday nights weather forecast which is to drop to around 40-45 F at night.. I guess it is the point of no return. I could probably wait til after Tuesday when night gets back up to 55F.

The past two nights went down to about 50F with on and off showers the whole time. They have been getting gabout 4-5 hours of direct sunlight for nearly 2 weeks or more and the rest of the time in the shade on my porch.

New update photos below. (and the total time since germantion has been about 7 weeks.)

Thanks,
-Mr Beno

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:41PM
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