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Old May 25, 2015   #49
crmauch's Avatar
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Honey Brook, PA Zone 6b
Posts: 387

I would generally agree with you, but sometimes you only have a few seeds left/ or the only sprouts were helmets/ or the genetics are just to important to you to lose that seedling.

I'm glad to here about the 'spit' method. I've tried slicing the edge off of the seed coat so it will further split, but without great success.


Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
I leave them to it and let nature take its course. I watch my seedlings closely and put them under lights as soon as the very first seed is up. Cover off. I use moist sterile seedling mix and keep it moist as I think failure of the seed coat to come off is a lot more common in dry conditions and with old seed. I also think heat mats contribute by making the plants germinate too fast before the seed coat is soft enough. I do not use a heat mat for germinating tomatoes. I do not see a lot of "helmet heads" but the few that do come up with the seed coat still on I just leave them alone. A vigorous seedling will grow and break itself out of its seed coat on its own and if it doesn't manage to do that then it's failed its first important test and gets culled there and then as a dud. Most will get out on their own. I am a ruthless tomato mommy and don't mess with weak/ abnormal seedlings any more. Plant two seeds if you can for every one plant you want and plan on selecting only the best and that will remove the temptation/necessity of nursing along weak seedlings.

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