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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old 14 Hours Ago   #16
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Indiana
Posts: 493

Lots of good practices around, but here are a few things I have found useful:
-The New Seed-Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel.
-Good Coir mix starting mix with added perlite. Burpee bagged Organic Seed Starting Mix is very good.
-Bottom heat for starting the seeds. 80-85 works very well.
-Good lighting, and at this point that still leans to T8 daylight florescent.
-A very thin layer of vermiculite topping -- .060" ish. Mist daily, and prevent drying out.
-Don't bury the seeds, but instead press them into the mix.
-After sprouting, give 14-15 hours of light daily.
-Don't over-water!!! This probably causes more damage than everything else combined.
-Give the roots room to grow. 3-4" pots work well. (Transplant gently after apx. two sets of true leaves.)
-Grow the transplants at cool temps -- 60-ish is good.
-Harden the plants and set out when the weather is warm and settled. A cold frame is very useful for transitioning.
-Practice makes perfect. Keep notes. If you are like most folks, you'll forget things from year to year.
-If just starting out, I'd recommend sticking mostly to proven hybrids. Big Beef, Early Girl, Jet Star, and Supersonic are good to start out with. "Hybrid Vigor" is not a myth. Some of the new Dwarf Project varieties are quite excellent, and easier to grow than full-size indeterminates. Consider an EarthBox/earthtainer to ease the watering issues.

Last edited by Greatgardens; 14 Hours Ago at 03:12 AM.
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Old 10 Hours Ago   #17
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Plantation, Florida zone 10
Posts: 8,133

All the above suggestions are good, maybe don't use the dome because it doesn't allow air circulation, and you are asking for damping off to happen.
This thread has videos by our own Craig Lehouillier, author of Epic Tomatoes, showing step by step in very good detail.

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Old 4 Hours Ago   #18
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Philly
Posts: 71

I plant "like" varieties in 4-6 cell packs, this makes removing from the tray easier due to different germination rates.

1) My Mix is Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Mix, to this I add some perlite.

2) I fill the cell packs and press firmly with my thumbs right in the bag, then top off with more mix but don't compress mix but touch lightly with my finger to create a very slight depression.

3) Place the cells in a tray with water, mark cell pack with a garden stake, grab my seed packet, then,... the next part I do 2 ways;
. A) ,
using a pencil put a few divots in the mix, pick up a seed with a wet toothpick, drop a seed in each divot, top with more potting mix and maybe a few drops more of water.
. B) I like trying new things so I tried this for my tomatoes this year, place the cells in a tray with water,
pick up a seed with a wet toothpick, drop a few spaced seeds on top of the mix, sprinkle with a very thin coating of vermiculite, spray real well with a water bottle.

4) Then it's off into a domed, heated tray until sprouts appear.

5) When sprouts appear and depending on the sprouts, I may leave them another day for a greater germination rate, then remove and put directly under lights for 16 hours about 4" from the light and use a timed fan that cycles three times a day for an hour to half an hour.

6) I bottom water to keep potting mix moist, then about a week after the first set of true leaves have appeared, I will up pot to 16 oz or 20 oz cups, continuing to bottom water, alternating with a my own mix of fertilizer (20-18-38). I have also up potted with just the cotyledon leaves showing with no problems.

7) About a week before going outside, I stop fertz.

8) When it's time to harden off, I take the tray outside, place under my deck for about a week, maybe two. Under the deck gets late afternoon sun. I leave them out there and don't bring them back inside, unless it is going to be anything under 40°, This is what I call my, "Sink or Swim" period.

I have only had one plant dampen off in the the three seasons I have done this

Last edited by SQWIBB; 4 Hours Ago at 01:36 PM.
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