HELP! with Acquired Tomato plants

Tomato_Tommy(6)May 7, 2013

This is my first time posting anything but I have been doing a lot of reading. Lots of knowledge to be shared here! Anyways, A local High school this past weekend had a sales going on with there plants grown by a horticulture class. I got 6 tomato plants and they all have the same problem...... First off they were grown in a green house and are about a foot and a half high already. They were all root bound being in these tiny starter pots. They would barely stand up with out tipping over. They don't have many branches for as old of plants as they seem to be and the upper most leaves are all gnarly and curled looking. Most of them have also begun to flower as well. Which is odd because they are not near mature enough. The specific types i got were Old German, Early Girl, and a Roma variety. NOt sure what would be the issue but I am worried about the growth from her to the end of the season. I have re-potted them into larger containers as it is not yet time to plant them outside. Any help with what is causing the curly leaves and the flowers so early and what to would be great help.

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

Leggy, lanky plants such as you describe - those grown without sufficient light - can be salvage by what is called trench-planting. Dig a 6" deep trench at the planting site and lay the plant in it horizontally burying all of the plant except the top cluster of leaves and a bit of stem just below them. New roots will develop all along that buried portion of the plant and it will continue to grow.

Trench planting, while not ideal, is a fairly common practice and the plants do well.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

It sounds like the starter pots were packed closely in a tray. They have been real stressed. Potting up was a good move. Be sure to harden them off gradually before you put them out in their permanent homes.

Where in SW Idaho are you located? I am south of Twin Falls kind of on the way to Jackpot.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hardening Off and Physiological Changes

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 8:53PM
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Thanks Dave and Betsy! Betsy I am located in Meridian.. starting my first garden this year and tomatoes are what I am excited about the most. I and I did some reading on hardening off which I am following... Also getting the soil prepped just right. yes they were packed in 2x2 starter packs and very close together. Do you recommend the trench planting method like Dave?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:10PM
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lartomato(5 northern AZ 7000 feet)

Like Dave SAID--- trench about 6in deep and lay them on their side --- just the top up --- keep the dirt from touching the leaves and water well --- they will do fine


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:57PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

If you have a leggy plant, I certainly would trench them. One thing I have noticed about tomato plants grown too closely together so that the stem is rather bare, is that they tend to be a bit brittle, so use care when trenching so you don't break the stem. However, if you do break it and it is still attached, go ahead and bury it.

If my tomatoes aren't too leggy, I just dig the hole deeper with my post hole digger, err, have my husband dig it deeper. Actually, he and my son are so good at making me nice round deep holes that I frequently have to put some dirt back in the bottom so I can have some leaves above ground.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:49PM
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I have never personally tried the trench method but there are experts on this board (and Dave is one) who swear by it. It makes sense too. For great tomato plants into the summer, root development is key. More roots = better plants.

Like Dave said, roots will develop all along the buried stem. I tried to plant mine extra deep this year to get the benefits of the extra rooting.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:18AM
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