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Old March 13, 2018   #12
bower
Tomatovillian™
 
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
Posts: 5,770
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I like the sound of your method Sue CT even if it is different from mine.
Total agreement about peat pots and plugs. I can't work with these. They are too wet or too dry for me, all the time. Also grossly overpriced. Finding a potting mix that works is key for starting seeds. Don't water too much once the seeds have germinated, if the temp is cool.

I do use a heat mat to germinate toms and peppers but ymmv in a warmer climate, you may not need that. They will germinate anyway with patience, just a little later if it's cool.

I use cell packs to start tomatoes, either a six pack or a four pack depending on the amount of seeds going in. Space them out as well as I can in the cell (at least a little space in between). Give them a nice shallow cover of "soil"/ media, and mist the surface heavily at least once a day for a couple of days. IME covering the seeds helps the seedlings to shuck their seeds and fewer 'helmet heads', but they will germinate better and faster if it's not too deep.

I like to keep the environment covered and moisture sealed in until they germinate. Bakery clamshells that fit two cell packs are ideal in my environment. The 1020 covers don't seem to seal moisture in as effectively, and resulted in slower germination for me, than using a bakery clam that seals with snaps. They have to be opened at least once daily to let air in, even if they look wet (which they should on a heat mat) you need to aerate by opening and check soil surface moisture. Usually I have seedlings up within 3 days. Older seeds can take up to a week. If nothing is up in 4 days to a week you have a problem.

I transplant my seedlings into individual cells as soon as they get their cotyledons out of the seed, then two weeks later into bigger cups. But I think there's merit in putting them straight into bigger solos as SueCT does. I'm always thinking about better methods, and you will too once you play around with it, find out what works best for your environment.... good luck!!
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