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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 February 1, 2011   #31
Full Moon
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I tried the paper towel method for the first time with pepper seeds and am now converted to it.

I placed all the ziplock bags in a baking tray and put it on top our heating docks. The first seeds started to germinate after only four days.

I'll do the same for the eggplants but will probably stick to soil-less mix for the tomatoes.
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Old December 1, 2011   #32
ScottinAtlanta
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With the paper towel method, how and when do you pot up?
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Old December 1, 2011   #33
Fusion_power
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With hot peppers, a chicken egg incubator set at 80 to 85 degrees works better. Tomatoes generally do best at 70 to 75 degrees.

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Old December 1, 2011   #34
carolyn137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
With hot peppers, a chicken egg incubator set at 80 to 85 degrees works better. Tomatoes generally do best at 70 to 75 degrees.

DarJones
Agreed that hot peppers want it hot for best germination, but not having a chicken egg incubator I would start my hot peppers about 3-4 weeks before my cold peppers, and the cold peppers and egplant about two weeks before the tomato seeds.

All the seed trays were placed on top of some lighted bulbs on my plant stand and all the seed trays were covered with large baggies, propped up at one end for air circulation and all seeds started in artificial mix, my choice of the year although I preferred Fafard or Jiffy or Pro-mix.

Never had a problem and germination was fine.

After I moved to where I am now I'd sow the seeds same as above, usually using those 20 row professional seed inserts and then drive them to my commercial friend's farm where he had 28 greenhouses and one was the seed starting one where pipes with circulating hot water were embedded in the concrete so that that concrete was always nice and warm.

Now that was easy, no fuss, thanks to Charlie and then I'd do all my transplanting there as well and the trays with the new transplants were put in greenhouse #17, the one Charlie assigned to me, and the area he gave me was right in front of a huge exhaust fan. I guess he didn't want to put HIS transplants in front of that huge fan, but with the air motion, aka thigmo tropism, my plants were just wonderful.

Now I don't grow any peppers or eggplants or tomatoes from seed. Craig L raises my tomato plants for me in Raleigh and ships them up here, bless him, although this past season he delivered them in person since he and Sue were up this way for a graduation.

Today I meet with a local young lad who is getting into heirloom veggies and fruits seriously, as in commercial, and so starting at about 1 PM for a talkfest I know it's going to be fun, and I've already told him I can give him all the tomato seed he needs, he's been buying it the past two years, and I bet I can get him to raise for me some cold peppers in his greenhouse in return.
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Old December 1, 2011   #35
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I use the paper towel in a bag method, but put them on top of the cable box in the living room, LOL. That thing gets pretty warm.

Then when they sprout I put them in soiless mix in pots on a heat mat in the garage. I don't have room in my house for a growlight setup, so it's in the garage. I'm not sure what the optimal growing temperature is for nightshades, but I just make sure they don't get frozen. I do let them get down to the 40's though. They grow very slowly if it's cold, but I figure that toughens them up.

Also, since here in Texas we can have those odd 70 degree days in the middle of winter, when that happens I put them outside. Sometimes I can have them out there for days at a time. They love that. I just have to pay attention to the weather reports, and put them back in the garage if it's going to freeze again. It rarely stays below freezing for very long here, so my seedlings can end up spending a lot of time outside in the winter.

Maybe one day when I have less time I'll figure out a method that's less labor intensive, but right now I like messing around with my seedlings every day, so all that bringing them in/setting them out isn't too bad.
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Old December 2, 2011   #36
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As soon as you see the tip of the root poking through the seed coat,
it is time to put them in seed-starting mix. I just make a fingertip-sized
depression in the seed-starting mix, drop them in there, cover them
up with another pinch of seed-starting mix, and water (top or bottom,
but I prefer to soak the mix from the bottom on the initial watering).

Good to go.
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Old December 9, 2011   #37
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Sift the potting mix and use the bigger particles on the bottom for the roots to grab! I always do that for very small seeds like celery!
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Old October 18, 2012   #38
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I love this thread. I referred to it Sunday when I planted four varieties (only four cups each.)

I am in Orlando and it is still quite warm in October. So I am worried the tender babes will dry out too quickly outside. Not a great house for full sun but they have the best window spot.

They seemed insanely tall and spindly within one day. I planted in shallow soil/coir mix so I could try the method of gently adding more medium around the seedlings. Tonight it looks like they leapt up some more. Slow down, Stretch. I hope they grow stronger!
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Old October 21, 2012   #39
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Kilroyscarnival, if you brush your hand over the tops of the plants and lightly "back and forth" on them several times a day, (just enough pressure to smell the tomatoes on your hand afterwards), that will help to create a nice sturdy stem. If they are stretching and looking spindly, it is because they need more light. good luck, I hope you have a great crop.
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Last edited by clkeiper; October 21, 2012 at 11:37 PM. Reason: more clarity
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Old October 22, 2012   #40
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Thanks, Carolyn! You mean I get to 'pet' my plants too? The cats are already jealous of the baby-talk they get. (Well, it's not really baby-talk, more like Sunday-school-teacher brightness.) I had not been too timid about gently brushing the stuck ones, but am now being sure to brush all of them. Gave a good look today on my lunchtime stop at home, and they don't look too spindly. I think the Red Currant variety is just more delicate than the others... it is the thinnest with the smallest leaves. Don't show that anyone here has grown them (at least by mention, saw some White Currant mentioned.) Chocolate Cherry and Mexico Midget are both starting to show the start of their first true leaves. The Wins All has been the most varied - I have seedlings in the same cup (same cup material/size, same grow medium) which look like they are days apart in maturity.

I planted more seeds yesterday, but a tiny amount of each... the paste varieties I just got from Heritage, and Lollipop and Jaune Flammée, interest in which was prompted from mentions in the 2013 cherry discussion here, and then seeing pics on Tatiana's TomatoBase. I was going to wait till next year to plant more, but realize that if I have some early failures, with the Florida winter I may have a second chance before it gets too hot. Going to try them in containers, in case I have to move them in event of a freeze warning.
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Old October 22, 2012   #41
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I start my plants on a very minute scale compared to your 6000 seedlings. I am impressed as you must have an amazing variety!
For my small home garden seedling crop I use compressed peat pellets soaked in hot water so they are still warm when I plant the seed. I sow each one individually as I only start about 100 plants each year. I don't use bottom heat as I don't find I need it with tomatoes (peppers are another story!!) and I typically get at least 90% germination. cover and wait. usually in about 5 days they are up and I remove the cover and put them under lights. Once they have 2-4 real leaves I pot them up into 6 inch pots of good quality seedling mix planting right up to the base of the leaves and since they are in peat pellets the roots are not disturbed which I think helps prevent setbacks with transplanting. Top dress each with a light layer of vermiculite and out to the greenhouse form there on until time to plant out. (quite cool at night) I find this works for me for my very small-scale needs.
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Old October 22, 2012   #42
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and I also "pet" them several times a day to keep them stocky. It really does help. My dear late grandmother taught me that. She said in her sweet Flemmish accent "zay tink it is vind" bless her
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Old October 23, 2012   #43
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Kilroy, Yes, you get to pet your plants! I learned this while working in a greenhouse many years ago and do it to my own plants when I start them in the spring. I also keep an oscillating fan going in the seed starting greenhouse. It helps with all the plants, so if you have a lot of seedlings one might do well for you too.
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Old October 23, 2012   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clkeiper View Post
Kilroy, Yes, you get to pet your plants! I learned this while working in a greenhouse many years ago and do it to my own plants when I start them in the spring. I also keep an oscillating fan going in the seed starting greenhouse. It helps with all the plants, so if you have a lot of seedlings one might do well for you too.
And it was in greenhouses that the phenomenon of what's called thigmotropism was first seen. Thigmotropisn means sensitive to touch.

It was noticed that plants along the ailes, which are narrow, that the plants were more sturdy. About 40 years ago the Cornell Coop Ext in my area started suggesting to farmers that they take a broom handle and run it over the plants each day.

My good friend Charlie had 28 greenhouses and did it for a whole week, but it already took him up to 8 hours each day to keep everything in the greenhouses watered, so he gave up.

I used to take all my 20 row professional trays after sowing tomato seed to his seed greenhouse which had pipes with warm water that were embedded in the concrete. And then at the right time I'd do all my transplating there as well.

My assigned spot to put the transplants was in greenhouse #19, amazing that I always remember that, and that space was right in front of a huge exhaust fan. He didn't want to put certain plants there but it sure worked out fine for me since the constant air movement made my tomato plants very sturdy indeed.
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Old October 23, 2012   #45
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So good to know! I have been going this since I read this. Also the seedlings are spending the day outside as long as I can determine it's not going to get too hot or pour rain while I'm at work. Fortunately I work 3 miles away so I can scoot home for lunch. They have gotten some gentle breezes.

Most of them seem like they are doing fine. One has one half of its cotyledon leaf sheared off... I don't know whether something ate it? It's a clean line. Otherwise it looks okay and I can see the beginning of other leaves coming, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. The red currant tomato seedlings are considerably smaller, both in leaf surface and in diameter of the stem, than the other varieties. Got all the seed coats off now, I think the saliva helped with the last one though water did help with a previous one.
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