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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 April 3, 2018   #1
throwaway
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Default Bad seed start mix?

Following last year's process more a less to the T. Coconut coir block hydrated, some vermiculite, germinate in a moist paper towel in a paper bag and transplant to the mix. This year the germination is ok, seeing a little mold forming on some of the germination towels, but the rate is ok and they seem to take off in the towel/bag. But nothing seems to grow once it hits the mix. Feel like they should be jumping out of the ground at this point. Not seeing anything that looks like disease and everything was disinfected or is new. Some kohrabi hit the mix running, but pepper and tomato just nothing. Ugh. Probably going to start a new batch and order a bagged mix. Feels like I'm running out of time to get seedlings up this year.
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Old April 3, 2018   #2
Labradors2
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What do the seedlings look like when you put them in the mix? I.e. root sprouted or more?

How deep do you plant them?

I like to wait until the cotyledons are out or almost out of the seed head and then plant with them showing. In the past, I have buried seeds that have sprouted and never seen them again

Linda
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Old April 3, 2018   #3
throwaway
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Generally just root sprouted. Sometimes about an inch of growth. Planting depth is pretty variable, but maybe the depth of my pinkie nail. Don't have a good rule of thumb for that since everything seems to be written for germinating in soil rather than in a towel and transplanted. How deep do you go?
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Old April 3, 2018   #4
Labradors2
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I don't think it's wise to plant them too deep. As I said, when I do that I often lose them. I would plant them so that the seed is just above the soil level.

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Old April 3, 2018   #5
ginger2778
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Check for fungus gnats. Tiny little flies whose larvae eat tender newly sprouted roots.
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Old April 5, 2018   #6
throwaway
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I spoke too soon. Good looking seedlings are emerging from the depths. Interesting to hear that fungus gnats will kill emerging sprouts.
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Old April 29, 2018   #7
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Almost a complete wipe out. 2 ok looking plants, 28 dead or dying. Some reviews for the coir complain about high salt content. I hadn't though to check, but perhaps that was an issue?

Plant out is in one month although I see no frosts on the 10-day forecast. I have until mid-October before first frost. Do I start over under lights with a new mix? Direct seed? Buy plants?
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Old April 29, 2018   #8
ginger2778
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I would not direct seed I would either start over or buy plants at this point. Direct seeding is dangerous for very fragile tomato seedlings. Most don't survive when they're too small. I routinely use Miracle-Gro seed-starting potting mix for my seeds. I find it works very well. And that is the only thing Miracle Grow that I ever use because I hate all their other products. I tried coir once and it was just awful.
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Old April 29, 2018   #9
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Thanks! I guess I'll try a combination of restart with a good mix and buy plants. Any suggestions on where to buy? Local nursery vs big box store?
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Old April 29, 2018   #10
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1) I'd buy plants, even though you may have no frost till mid-October, the Sep and Oct sun is weaker and just doesn't push out fruit like the Jul-Aug sun.

2) I'd still germinate and grow out seedlings now for practice even if they never make it to the garden and grow more all winter using different mixes and ferts till I was comfortable and confident in my program. (This is exactly what I did when I came to T'ville and got the bug. I had seedlings growing nearly continuous for 2 years)

3) My best advice, clean compost-free high porosity media, bottom watered, with a easily measured and administered fertilizer (like FloraNova Grow) applied from the first set of true leaves. (peat60/perlite40,or something like Pro-MixHP is excellent and what's used by countless commercial growers for both a starter and container mix)
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Old April 29, 2018   #11
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My local nursery has great starts and good heirloom varieties. Try both big box like lowes
and a nursery. One year when I was working out of town all Spring I basically bought
an entire garden for 100bucks. I think I ended up with 6 full 1020 flats...everything from
tomatoes, peppers, greens, leeks, salads, etc.
I still needed to pot up to 4inch but all the starts were beauty, just not my own
varieties. You can save money by getting the 6 packs rather than larger plants.

Like mentioned, I would also get a small bag of soil-less starting mix and direct seed
another flat for piece of mind.

I start a first 1010 tray at 12 weeks, then another and another at 11weeks 10, etc. Lots of
insurance just in case. I did have one failed flat early on. If that was my only go at it I would
be doomed.

I start 5 seeds per cell of each variety. I started potting up last weekend outside in nice weather...
I had good germination. I potted up the strongest of each cell, then put the second
back in the cell with some fresh soil, and culled the rest. These two 1010 trays are all extras.
My insurance. 3 36 cell flats. Just over a hundred extras. One cell was 0/5, BeautyKing.
That is the only time I use a pre-germination method, (coffee filter). For difficult seed.

We all use a bit different methods, but insurance sowing is what I need for success.

These 'extras' look a bit droopy but they perked up overnight and look very strong today.
A week later, the culls laying in the kitchen roasting tray are still alive after being outside
in cold/wet temps all week....40's
(fyi, some of the coir blocks are not so great for seed starting, but good for potting up.)
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Old April 29, 2018   #12
brownrexx
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I have never been a fan of this paper towel method unless I am checking on germination of a particular seed. I don't like the idea of transplanting delicate, newly sprouted seeds and it can also encourage the growth of mold.

I just plants seeds shallowly in a sterile soiless mix that I buy in any store (no favorite) and I have never had a problem. This takes the guesswork out of how deep to plant the sprouted seeds from a paper towel.

I only grow about 20 plants though. I am not a commercial grower.
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Old April 29, 2018   #13
JRinPA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricky Shaw View Post

2) I'd still germinate and grow out seedlings now for practice even if they never make it to the garden and grow more all winter using different mixes and ferts till I was comfortable and confident in my program. (This is exactly what I did when I came to T'ville and got the bug. I had seedlings growing nearly continuous for 2 years)
I think this is pretty good advice. Practice makes perfect. I know this has never been my strong suit. Too much natural ability here for the need to practice...at least in my mind .

It is difficult for most of us to get enough reps doing this just once a year.
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