Are my seedlings doing ok?

cdpropApril 21, 2012

I'm worried they might have a bit too much stem. As you can see, they've just acquired their first sets of true leaves and they're about 1.5-2" tall.

(my daughter has trouble holding the ruler straight, lol)

All my seedlings look about identical to this. I actually have a bunch of questions:

1) Are they too leggy? I am using a 48" shop light with 2 40W T12 bulbs in it, and I'm trying to keep the light less than an inch from the seedlings. They are currently getting 16 hours of light per day.

2) Should I put some more dirt in there? Unfortunately, I made the (I think) mistake of using potting soil instead of seed-starting mix. Luckily, they seemed to have germinated without any health problems as of yet (knock on wood). I did leave some extra room for more dirt if need be. So, if they are too leggy, maybe I can add some more dirt instead of repotting them?

3) These are 3" peat pots. Do you think I'll be able to get away with growing the tomato plants in these until it's time to go outside? Or will I need to transplant them into something bigger before then? I have no problem transplanting them, but I'm currently using all the space I have available under the shop light so if I have to repot them in bigger containers, some of the plants will probably have to die.

4) As you can see, I planted two per pot. When should I thin them?


Here is a link that might be useful:

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Of course, I forgot to mention what types of plants they are. I am growing two types of indeterminates: brandywine pink and big rainbow. All of the seedlings, from both groups, look about the same at this point in time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:43PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

You also didn't say how old they are. They look good assuming they are about three weeks old. They may be a little leggy but it sounds like you are handling the lighting pretty well. If you added a second shop light, you'd have room to keep a few more. Yes, I'd advise you to remove all but one seedling in each pot and add more potting mix to almost the top. With peat pots it's a good idea to water from below and keep the peat moist. If it dries out it can be impossible for the little roots to break through later. Unfortunately you probably will need to move them to larger pots once more before planting out. When you do, be sure to bury the whole peat pot and/or carefully cut off the top part so the roots can get out.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:10PM
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Thanks very much for your advice. These seedlings are about 13 days old. Is that a bad sign?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:17PM
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1. They look fine.

2. I would put more dirt in them if they were mine.

3. Probably not. A couple inches bigger would make a world of different.

4. They both look healthy so I would repot one of them, but if that's not an option, you could thin them anytime you wanted.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Your seedlings look very good for two weeks. You could wait until they have another set of true leaves before removing the weaker seedling, but don't wait longer. The most important thing for seedlings is for their roots to have undisturbed growth.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Thanks, everyone. Concerning watering from below, do I literally just keep a half inch or so of water in the tray that the pots are sitting in?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:42AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

When "bottom watering" you want to put plenty of water in the tray and allow the pots to soak for 30 minutes or so, and remove any remaining water. With some practice you get a feel for how much you need to add for the plants to get as much as they need without leaving them standing in water. (Which is not good as it can drown the roots.) Then don't water again until the pots get pretty light. One of the most common problems we see is over watering. Along with several of the other "overs".


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Thanks very much! I've had them in there for about 30 minutes. I can see that the peat pots are wet all the way to the top, but the actual dirt at the top still seems dry.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:46PM
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