Direct Sowing because I can't grow a seedling.

Amisoup(8B)August 28, 2012

I am in N Florida and planning on a fall tomato garden. I had (some) success in the spring, but used 5 gal buckets for my plants. We built raised bed gardens for the fall, and have a trellis in place so we have to get some tomatoes!! It's full of Mel's Mix, but for the life of me I can't get seeds to stay alive long enough to transplant. I tried direct sowing, and it seems to have worked for the last couple of weeks. The seedlings are alive, but they don't have any true leaves. Are they busy setting down roots right now, or are they just super slow? It's still hot here, in the 80's every day, so they should be growing right? Is there something I can do to give them a boost, beyond the banana peel 6" below them, or the compost in the mix? I couldn't stand if it they died, any advice is appreciated!! We are having large amounts of rain (hellooooo hurricane season) but so far they are alive and green. I had some Black Krim's pass away but replaced the dead seedlings with a few more seeds and they are doing great.

I'm so glad you experts are here!


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What do you think went wrong with your seedlings to transplant? It's not that hard to do - you shouldn't give up on the idea completely.

For the seedlings outside, they require very little nutrients at this stage. If they are still green, then they are probably growing roots just fine. Trying to fertilize them more right now would probably hurt them.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Oh, I am at a total loss about the seedlings that have died before. I have tried different methods, and each successive planting has failed to thrive. I have used peat pellets, I have used Mel's Mix, I have used Potting mix. Nothing works, the seedlings die around week 3 or 4. I'm not setting them outside, I'm keeping them "safe" in the garage or on the front porch that receives no sunlight. I really, REALLY wish I could figure it out. I have watered from above, from below, and in varying amounts. I have blown through a TON of seeds so far this year too!!

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:10PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Have you read the How to grow tomatoes from seed FAQ here? It should give you several clues as to what you are doing wrong.

Usually direct seeding is more difficult and much less successful than growing from seed is. From your info above the most likely cause of your problems is damp-off, a fungal disease that kills young seedlings when you try to grow them in anything but fresh sterile potting mix and when you keep the containers too wet.

Banana peels serve no purpose except to interfere with root development and provide no benefits. And compost, while great for established plants, contains both bacteria and fungi that can kill young seedlings.

You'll also find a great deal of help over on the Growing from Seed forum here. It has a detailed set of FAQS covering all the basics.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Maybe I'm confused, but you keep them away from any sunlight? They should get as much sun as possible, just shield them from extreme weather.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 1:58PM
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I was wondering about the "no sunlight" also. Seedlings need as much light as possible from either sun or supplemental lighting(typically fluorescent bulbs)if they are started indoors.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:34PM
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The seedlings are still alive (as of this morning) and I will post pictures later to show off! Thanks for all the info. As far as the sunlight, they do get sun but not direct sunlight and they aren't exposed to the elements. I am doing this because everything I have read on the boards talks about hardening off the plants and not setting them in the blazing heat as babies after they have grown indoors around 72 degrees... I'm in North Florida and I think it's around 90 today.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:11PM
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They need direct sunlight. The "hardening off" business is talked about on the forums because most people grow tomatoes in the spring, not the fall. Only those of us in late-frost areas have that luxury, and we can be often confused by "normal" recommendations. "Hardening off" for a fall garden in Florida means providing some shade in the most brutal part of the mid-late-summer day. You should have had those sprouts growing in lots of sun about six weeks ago for a fall garden. Get them into the sun pronto. The more the better at this point as sun intensity and day length are rapidly declining. Be prepared to provide some frost-cover if you want a harvest.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:54PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

A ton of tomato seeds ,now thst is alot

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:57PM
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