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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 25, 2019   #16
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Kansas 5b
Posts: 197

Probably better. And a few hours of full sun won't hurt them either. Even sitting in the shade on your front porch is probably better than window sill quality light indoors. But ii you want to leave them out longer, work up to longer times gradually.

As long as it's not too cool or too windy flats do fine outside. Having a flat blow over is not a happy experience. Other things to be aware of are that cats get into things they shouldn't and that even a gentle breeze will probably drying your starting mix out if you don't keep an eye on them.

Last edited by oldman; April 25, 2019 at 11:32 PM.
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Old April 26, 2019   #17
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Ontario
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Originally Posted by tryno12 View Post
Is a cloudy day outside in the spring as good as mediocre grow lights?
Better! Plants absorb a ton more light from outside, even on a cloudy day (and they won't get sunscald .

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Old April 26, 2019   #18
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: connecticut,usa
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clouds don't block UV
use the godfather 1 method and put them under cheesecloth or old panes of glass
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Old April 27, 2019   #19
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I put my seeds under lights 24/7 immediately after sowing and it does not harm them. They are never leggy. Put the lights as close as possible without burning the plants. (My lights are cool, so they're just about touching the plants).

I sow very shallowly and the only problem I suffer from that is helmet heads. Shallow doesn't make leggy. If on occasion a seedling isn't pushing its rootlet down into the soil -laying over when it's just sprouted-, I put a bit more soil around the rootlet.
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Old April 28, 2019   #20
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Zone 6
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I'll add a +1 to the test germination run idea. Even after a great year seed starting year I flopped completely the following. Tough to build good habits doing things once/year. I've received sample seed packs in every online seed order I've made from reputable stores, which end up being great for test runs if I don't want to grow the variety.
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Old April 28, 2019   #21
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: connecticut,usa
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depends on the K rating of the bulbs
I use a mix of 5000k and 6500K bulbs about 12 inches above the plants
and they never are leggy.
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Old April 29, 2019   #22
Join Date: May 2016
Location: sw ohio
Posts: 141

Great thread!

Someone mentioned T5s, which I am using, but find they are throwing a lot of heat -- even 10" away I'm getting into the 80's.
Is that temperature too warm vs getting the lights closer? I'm not not seeing any signs of bleaching or burning that I can tell.
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Old April 29, 2019   #23
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Plantation, Florida zone 10
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Originally Posted by xellos99 View Post
I just happen to have germinated tomato seeds the other day and took a photo at day 1, 2 and 3 after emergence.
Im not trying to patronise you, I just find my way works perfect every time so thought you might like to try next time something similar.
I used a $20 - $30 heated propagator and standard multipurpose and germinated in the pots you see in the photos.
The day after the 1st photo I took them out of the machine and into a greenhouse all day ( or windowsill will do ) and then used 2 T5 lights taped together indoors from about 7PM to midnight. Then next day indoors with lights again on a windowsill.
The 3rd photo I took just now and is a 3 day old seedling.

Attachment 86986

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I mean complete respect, but your day 2 and day 3 photos show they are very leggy. Again, no disrespect meant.
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Old April 30, 2019   #24
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: NewYork 5a
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Originally Posted by Reinheitsgebot View Post
Wow, your plants look incredible! What type of lighting are you using? Through practice, I would like to strive for similar results as yours.
I thought I had addressed this but maybe in my own head without sharing.

I grow salad year round on one of 4 shelves in my downstairs potting room. Like mentioned that
was a germination/soil test. Out the door every morning, I check my salad trays. Cell phone always
in pocket I documented this 1010 tray. I often have trouble listening to my own advice but this was a
'perfect storm'. Snow on ground and record low temps the air is dry. Low humidity, no bugs.
That room holds steady 64-65º. Small fan. Good clean soil. I let my trays dry out, then take the cell tray
out and set it in a shallow baking tray in water. Usually less than one minute until I see the top soil
start to darken. (not totally saturated). Never do I leave any plant in water for long. No food until first
set of true leaves. Then 1/4 strength about every two weeks. Or every third watering.

That shelf has an old two banger florescent with its cover still on and next to it a Costco 32$ LED...4 ft shelf.
(I should change the bulbs for fresh but I hate shopping especially the BigBoxStores)
With the cover on I can get the seedlings right up close. 1010 trays are square. Easy to shift around and spin.
I raise my trays, not my lights, since all trays are growing at different rates. Pic is March when the snow
starts to thaw and I see a few fungus gnats. The battle begins.
...I was looking for something to raise that tray when I took the pic.
I have a deep 4 ft long South window in that room so they get some sun when it shines.
(I lost one tray out of six early April...not yet diagnosed) there is no perfect formula for seed starting.
seed, soil, water, temp, bug control.
IMHO not much money is needed for seed starting. Completely different game if you want to grow to fruiting.
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