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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 March 27, 2018   #1
Patapsco Mike
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Default Transplants too big?

I bought a greenhouse last summer. This is my first spring with seedlings in a greenhouse. I had no idea how different it would be. I'm a good month away from transplanting, but my seedlings are a foot tall and some are starting to flower.

Is there anything I can do to slow them down? Will they do OK when I transplant them? I've never had a problem like this before... I just can't believe it. Normally right now they might be 3-4" tall growing under some LED's.

I'm tempted to top them all and start clones with the tops. They are going to be massive when a month from now when it's time to put them out.
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Old March 27, 2018   #2
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My thoughts are to remove the flowers and maybe re-pot into larger containers so half the tomato is under the soil. That would make the plant six inches tall with a larger root system. This is only a guess. Interesting problem, keep us informed how it turns out.
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Old March 27, 2018   #3
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Lower the temperature. It'll slow growth.

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Old March 27, 2018   #4
carolyn137
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I learned a little trick from my commercial farmer friend Charlie.

Take off all of the side branches leaving just a tuft of foliage at the top and if already hardened off,keep them out of the rain.

Taking off the side branches lowers the level of photosynthesis which makes the energy compounds that allows for further growth.Keeping them out of the rain also makes them grow slower.

Then plant them deeply, for both Charlie and myself that would have been inground but should work with large containers as well.

If they get too tall to even do that make a trench with a hoe about 3 ft deep and lay the plant in it horizontally,leaving just a tuft of foliage sticking out and at first that tuft will also be horizontal but with sunshine it will start to grow vertically.

There were many times when I couldn't set out plants b/c of weather and I'm so very glad that Charlie taught me what he did.

For those of you who might have the book I was asked to write about tomatoes,you'll see in the thank you section that I thanked him for a lot but didn't specify anything. But what else he did was to turn under the field I had when Frost hit, disc it , then sow winter rye,then in the Spring he'd comeback and plow it in deeply and then level it off,then go down the rows with his small tractor and put the guide bars out to mark where the rows were and there was 5 ft between rows.

Fact is, Charlie didn't even like tomatoes but grew many many acres of them and delivered them to places where plants were sold as well as fruits that his workers harvested during the later part of the summer season.

Carolyn
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Old March 27, 2018   #5
Patapsco Mike
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Thank you Carolyn! Makes perfect sense. I will take your advice and give them a nice haircut tonight!
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Old March 27, 2018   #6
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Spread them out at least 6" from each other so they don't stretch for the light and keep them cool like Nan said. That should slow them down some. The other option is transplanting in a bigger pot, remove all the soil from the rootball and bury it as deep as possible, that should slow them down too but they'll recover before your planting date.
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Old March 27, 2018   #7
Douglas_OW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolyn137 View Post
I learned a little trick from my commercial farmer friend Charlie.


If they get too tall to even do that make a trench with a hoe about 3 ft deep and lay the plant in it horizontally,leaving just a tuft of foliage sticking out and at first that tuft will also be horizontal but with sunshine it will start to grow vertically.


Carolyn
Did you really lay seedlings down in a trench 3 feet deep? How big were your plants?

Jim
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Old March 27, 2018   #8
chiefbeaz
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I don't think Carolyn meant the trench to be 3 foot deep, maybe 3 inches ?
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Old March 27, 2018   #9
ginger2778
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I think she meant the trench was long, not deep.
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Old March 27, 2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas_OW View Post
Did you really lay seedlings down in a trench 3 feet deep? How big were your plants?

Jim
My bad,that should have been 3 INCHES deep.

Carolyn
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Old March 27, 2018   #11
carolyn137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carolyn137 View Post
I learned a little trick from my commercial farmer friend Charlie.

Take off all of the side branches leaving just a tuft of foliage at the top and if already hardened off,keep them out of the rain.

Taking off the side branches lowers the level of photosynthesis which makes the energy compounds that allows for further growth.Keeping them out of the rain also makes them grow slower.

Then plant them deeply, for both Charlie and myself that would have been inground but should work with large containers as well.

If they get too tall to even do that make a trench with a hoe about 3 ft deep and lay the plant in it horizontally,leaving just a tuft of foliage sticking out and at first that tuft will also be horizontal but with sunshine it will start to grow vertically.

There were many times when I couldn't set out plants b/c of weather and I'm so very glad that Charlie taught me what he did.

For those of you who might have the book I was asked to write about tomatoes,you'll see in the thank you section that I thanked him for a lot but didn't specify anything. But what else he did was to turn under the field I had when Frost hit, disc it , then sow winter rye,then in the Spring he'd comeback and plow it in deeply and then level it off,then go down the rows with his small tractor and put the guide bars out to mark where the rows were and there was 5 ft between rows.

Fact is, Charlie didn't even like tomatoes but grew many many acres of them and delivered them to places where plants were sold as well as fruits that his workers harvested during the later part of the summer season.

Carolyn
I'm adding a bit more to the above since, well,I want to.

Cornell used to have agents that worked with large commercial farms and they were the ones that had discovered the following.

In green houses where the aisles were narrow,the seedlings growing there in the front were larger and more sturdy than the others since as one walked down those aisles, watering,they would brush against the seedlings in the front. And that's why they advised those farmers to take a broom stick and about twice a day run it over the tops of all of the seedlings.

At the time I was transplanting my own tomato seedlings at Charlie's and I was told to put them in greenhouse #17,which was in front of a huge exhaust fan, and mine grew faster than his and were,perhaps more sturdy,say I. Which is what Charlie wanted since he started new seedlings every few weeks and when they got to a certain height would transfer them to a cooler green house where they would grow slower.

So basically he wanted my seedlings out of the warmer green house so he could put his newest ones in there. I was being used.

Carolyn\
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