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Tomato Seedlings - Help

Posted by saood Saudi - 10b (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 22, 13 at 9:59

Being a first time gardener starting off with container gardening, I started with tomato seeds in a 4" pots. 3 places and 2 seeds in each place. So total of 6 seeds in one pot. 4 of them germinated and 2 of them from the same place are the best ones. The other two are not so strong. I have attached a pic showing all the 4 seedlings so that it become more clearer. As you can see in the pic, one of these two has a more thicker stem. Both of the stronger ones have started their true leaves but since it is all from the same place, they are fighting for light. Now I dont want to lose one of them. However, I dont know how to proceed. Should I gently pull one out and transplant it in another pot (or may be its final container)? Is it possible without losing one or worse, both, of them? Do I have to thin one of them out? I read you could gently prick them out? How to do it?

Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

Yes, move them so that there is only one left per pot.


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

They'll come out easily, and are big enough to be transplanted to the final container size you're going to use.

Plants that come from direct seeding need to be transplanted, at least once so that you get a fibrous root structure, instead of a tap root structure without transplanting.

Carolyn


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

  • Posted by saood Saudi - 10b (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 22, 13 at 14:53

Thanks Carolyn

You mean at the moment the root will be more of tap root without much fibre? So it can be pulled out easily? Btw, I read somewhere that plants with tap root dislike being transplanted - I heard this for cucumbers and cilantro?

Further, instead of direct sowing, it is much better to start in pots and then transplant it either in ground or the final container? Is it so?


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

I use an old spoon that has been banished from the kitchen to "scoop" seedlings out then gently untangle them from each other at the roots. Have your new containers ready and plant each seedling all the way to the cotyledons. Any part of the stem that is underground should develop roots. Yours look nice so they should withstand transplanting pretty good. Don't panic if they get a little "wilty", it's just a shock to their system; they should bounce back pretty quickly. Best of luck!
Edie


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

You mean at the moment the root will be more of tap root without much fibre? So it can be pulled out easily? Btw, I read somewhere that plants with tap root dislike being transplanted - I heard this for cucumbers and cilantro?

Further, instead of direct sowing, it is much better to start in pots and then transplant it either in ground or the final container? Is it so?

&&&&&

Direct seeded tomatoes do develop taproots, just as carrots and radishes do,but direct seeding does not give you a plant with many rootlets ( fibrous ) structure which is why they should be transplanted.

In the link below scroll down to the section on tomatoes.

Most of the basic traits of tomatoes were first studiedin the 20's and 30's so that's why this link is so good.

You can sow your seeds in a pot if you prefer,one variety to a pot but Iprefer using a seed pan of some kind,I'm not going to go into deta lhere,and after putting damp seed growing mix in the pan,make some shallow rows and sow the seeds about 1/4 inch apart, cover them with some of the mix and water in well/

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato root structures


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

I would NEVER pull a seedling if I intend to keep it.
Like "Edie.." said a spoon can be a good mini shovel to do it with least disturbance at this very early stage..

Another Point: You can keep them growing together for a good while longer and then separate them (By digging out, separating the roots in some muddy water. Tomato seedlings( with couple sets of true leaves) are some of the transplant FRIENDLY plants I know, after the alliums.
I don't know about the TAP root, you will always find a lot of roots tangled together when two seed germinate close to each oter and grow. .


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

  • Posted by saood Saudi - 10b (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 2:13

Thanks Seysonn

I can let it grow together for some more time, but as I see it, the weaker one is being pushed a lot and it has slowed down comparative to the stronger one. The stronger one is starting to come up with another set of true leaves and shading the other seedling.

Further if I decide to put them in separate pots, should they be planted in a their final large container or a smaller container for the time being? I understand both are ok, but which one is better, if any?


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

should they be planted in a their final large container or a smaller container for the time being?
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I don't know what size they are in now. When I start them in small cells, then I transplant them to a 2" -3" square box. I could've transplanted them to say, 6-8" pot then but for the sake of space limitation(under grow light) for indoor conditions, I choose smaller pot . So it keeps growing. Then One more repotting before final plant out say into a 6 " pot. This is the time gettin close to training and hardening off for outdoor conditions.
In my climate plant out date is in late mid to May. So i will start some time in late Feb. I am going to make cold frame(outside). So I can move them out and place then in the cold frame. This way I can extend my season by two weeks. A lot of us in US are facing the COLD challenge. Your case is quite different.

In your climate, I think you don't have to do those things that I mentioned. . Actually, after seeing few sets of true leaves you can plant out. in their final container

ANOTHER POINT: If it takes just 1o to 15 days to germinate tomato seeds, WHY bother with separating ? Just pinch the excess and keep one: and plant some more. That is what I will do. I will plant more cells and more than one seed per cell. Then proceed as I just said. Seeds , UNLESS they are hard to find and you cannot find them and that is all you had, What is more valuable to me is MY TIME and MY EFFORTS.


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

  • Posted by saood Saudi - 10b (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 7:09

So planting out in the final container seems to be the best as it is the closest to the natural setup.

Time and effort is more valuable to even me. But then the problem is I am a first time gardener where I am too happy to see my first few seedlings emerge out of so much effort and I dont feel like killing them. At the moment my love with them has taken over all the other things :-)


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

What kind of tomato are you growing? Tomatoes are large plants. I would separate the seedlings placing each one in its own small pot. When the small plants get too large for that pot move it to the final sized pot which should be fairly large. Use something to lift the seedling out of the soil and gently pull them apart. They will look beaten up for a while but will then grow faster. I can't kill seedling either and that is why I planted too many tomatoes last year. Are you planting them in containers outside or in a window of a building. How much space do you have?


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

I always start my seeds in pots and wait until they have one or two sets of leaves before I transplant them to a bigger pot. I wouldn't go to the final pot at this point. They will spend alot of time growing roots to fill out the pot. You can plant tomatoes deeper than they are planted now to help them get stronger and grow more roots.


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

I looked at your picture again. Next time you plant tomato seeds look closely at the seeds. Often they stick together. Separate them so you don't get plants that close.


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 18:44

In case you haven't seen this.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ - How to grow tomatoes from seed


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

Hi Saood,

I see you are in KSA.. I am in UAE and tried my hand at growing tomatoes here for the last 3 growing seasons. Last season was the best so far with beautifully delicious Brandywine Sudduth Strain tomatoes.

I see you mentioned you are going to plant your seedlings in their final container..and since I did not see this post until now, I am guessing you may have already done so. As others have already advised, you should only pot up to a bit bigger pot and not yet in the final containers.

I can tell you that it is possible to grow seedlings without potting up more than once because I ended up having to do so last season due to being away on vacation for two months right as the seed planting season began. I asked my housemaids to try to grow seedlings for me since I was away. I couldn't explain potting up seedlings due to language differences and they just planted the seeds all in one large pot and they successfully grew nice seedlings by the time I returned (photo taken December 12th 2012):

 photo e33130cb-3963-480e-9fb7-62b7bb0bb592.jpg

But your seedlings are still so tiny I would suggest you go with the others' advice to pot up but not in the final containers yet.

With the largest seedlings in that first photo, I pinched off the bottom leaves and planted them deeply in their final containers (30 gallon or 136 litre) on December 14th, 2012:

 photo 6858e2a3-378b-471e-af8e-032631ff73cb.jpg

And here is how much it grew in just two weeks (December 30th):

Brandywine Sudduth December 30th 2012 photo a29db70e-d1e4-4c6f-9e5e-edb0ab76e434.jpg

There were already flower buds on December 30th too!! though I pinched them off to help the plant grow bigger and stronger :)

Good luck with your tomatoes!

I unfortunately decided not to grow tomatoes this season because I am going to be out of the country a few times during the growing season but I hope to do so next year :)

Edited to add--I only had 3 containers to grow tomatoes in so I only grew 3 plants. All the extra seedlings, even the smaller ones you see in the first photo were given to friends who also grew them the full size successfully :)

This post was edited by ameera on Tue, Oct 29, 13 at 13:35


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

  • Posted by saood Saudi - 10b (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 30, 13 at 2:57

Asalamua'laikum Ameera

Its great to have someone from UAE. I was actually looking for someone on GW from my part of the world. Glad to meet you. I even thought of recommending to GW admin to have a Middle East Gardening Forum :-)

And thanks for all those advices along with pictures. I actually for some reason did not plant them in the final containers. Will wait for some more time.

One thing I wanted to ask you was about those containers of yours. What are those? They seem to be some sort of fabric type. Are they available in UAE? Many things I could not find in KSA (Al Khobar) but found in that tiny island of Bahrain. I believe UAE would have much more to offer. Though not a concern right now, but I think with coming seasons I will be increasing my gardening activities and since container gardening is the only option for me (at the moment), the potting soil cost is going to get heavy which I will have to reduce. Any suggestions?


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RE: Tomato Seedlings - Help

Wa aleikum salaam :)

Unfortunately those pots are not available here... I bought them online from smartpots.com and they delivered them to me from the US. This was over 2 years ago and they actually under-charged me for shipping because once I received the package I saw they paid a lot more for shipping than they charged me. I just looked and they did raise their shipping cost.

There are cheaper brands that I found but the sites don't ship overseas... just in case you are interested in at least seeing it (maybe you would want to buy some if you ever travel to the US or know someone who will be there) ...here is one brand:

http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/category/fabric-pots

I chose fabric pots because of the extra air flow in hopes to extend the chance of ripening tomatoes a bit longer once the heat sets in (keeps soil cooler than a plastic or ceramic container). Also because it causes air pruining:

http://www.smartpots.com/smart-pot-air-prunes

For supports for the tomato plants I found everything at a Japanese store named Daiso --I looked and there is one in Al Khobar so hopefully you can find some good stuff to use as support. Other stores like Ace Hardware or other Gardening stores were way more expensive.

My supports ended up looking like this (I gardened on my concrete roof so no soil to dig the stakes deep into the ground):

 photo Jan132013wstraycat.jpg

Tomato Support photo TomatoSupport.jpg

I did a combo of two things. I got some plant cages but since they are too weak to support a tomato plant by itself, I supported them with those green long plastic stakes and added plastic rope horizontally as the plant grew taller.

Now, my very first try at growing tomatoes I did successfully grow them in 7 gallon plastic containers (but they were Determinate varieties that only produce tomatoes once and then the plant dies) :

 photo 2011-03-14_16-40-04_821.jpg


For soil, I fortunately found a local company and spoke directly with the owner who sold everything at wholesale prices. I was very fortunate because I needed to buy A LOT of soil.

But before I found that here is some advice I got previously:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tomato/msg091512275112.html

As I said on that old thread of mine, if the soil is on the expensive side, I would just buy a few bags here and there over time so you aren't stuck buying all of it at once and being shocked by the price.


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