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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 May 13, 2017   #16
shatbox's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Los Angeles County, CA
Posts: 203

+1 BettaPonic's comment

1st choice: Always have germination with rockwool, but I am a small scale gardener. I love it for the control: ph and masterblend. I think the MB fert at 5.8 ph makes a huge difference.

2nd: 50/50 coir and pearlite. Quality coir is not expensive for the volume you get and pearlite is cheap. Usually pot up into this mix from rockwool, hempy cup (don't let the marijuana info get to you, the info is solid) to hempy bucket or earthbox

3rd: Straight DE. Dependable, roots love it.

Last edited by shatbox; May 13, 2017 at 02:26 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old July 25, 2017   #17
MadCow333's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: NW PA 6A
Posts: 146

This year, I was late starting my seeds. I think it was Apr 13 - 19 or so. Maybe that worked out better, considering I'm in NW PA and we still had frost at night in early May!

I had 72-unit seed starting trays that I bought last year. I used just the trays and the lids, but not the inserts. Instead, I bought Jiffy peat refills. I had really robust seedlings this year. The peat pods made for really robust root systems.

Method: (I am a chemical engineering tech, not a gardening perfectionist, lol. No heating mat. No grow lights.)

-- Soaked seeds maybe 6-8 hours in a 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water solution, made from the typical peroxide sold at Dollar General stores.

-- Bought these Jiffy pellet refills and soaked them in water per their instructions.

-- Put the pellets in an open tray, pushed seeds in, and just kept them damp enough. I used seed starter trays that have a plastic lid, because I already owned those from last year. But I didn't use the little compartment inserts. (You can buy trays that come with the peat pods. Or you can just plunk the peat pods in any tray you like and cover with plastic wrap or whatever. Just so you can keep track of which variety is which and keep the pods from drying out.)

-- I did kept the lids on until seeds sprouted. After I had sprouts, I removed the lids ASAP and from then onward I gave the seedlings the maximum daylight possible.

-- I moved them outdoors as soon as possible. Kept them on an open rack on a covered porch in some 40-degree nights and they were not bothered much. I fed them dilute solutions of Miracle Gro and other similar feeds bought at WalMart clearance last year.

There is netting around the peat pods. I really don't think it will decompose in soil, so I tore it off, taking some roots off in the process. But I don't think it hurt anything. Some of these plants I planted directly into large containers as a test. Most, I potted into 16 oz. transparent cups, put those in plastic trays from
Dollar General. Some, I never got around to and they stayed in the seedling tray confined to their peat pods until last week, which was over 2 months! These seedling photos were taken June 28.

All of these plants have the most robust root systems I have ever seen. As soon as they were potted, they took off and grew massive rootballs. They had bigger, more solid, and more prolific rootballs than last year's seedlings that were started in the plastic compartment inserts. Ripping off the netting and losing the roots that had grown through the netting didn't hurt a thing.

Sorry this is so long, but I am REALLY impressed with the convenience and the performance of using this "quick & dirty" no-fuss method. It's easy to keep the peat pods hydrated. And they seem to make some really robust root systems. I had absolutely zero transplant shock. Literally, I didn't need to keep plants in the shade after transplant or anything. They were robust and hardy and never skipped a beat.

These photos are the *neglected extra seedlings that had to sit in their peat pods far too long until I got time to plant them. They got trimmed up and planted last week. Wetzel Bush Beefsteak determinate on the top, and Burpee San Marzano indeterminate in the bottom photo.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSCN9527.jpg (422.8 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg peatrefills.jpg (33.6 KB, 62 views)
File Type: jpg DSCN9526.jpg (389.1 KB, 63 views)

Last edited by MadCow333; July 25, 2017 at 12:15 PM.
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Old July 25, 2017   #18
Rockporter's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Texas Coastal Bend
Posts: 3,195

Wow, that's impressive!
In the spring
at the end of the day
you should smell like dirt

~Margaret Atwood~

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Old July 25, 2017   #19
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Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 1,012

MadCow surely qualifies as a master gardener AND a Tomatovilleian PAR EXCELLENCE ! Truly one in a million. She very kindly shared some of her plants and they had plenty of roots to plant under lots of good compost. Her profile in her posts deserve a gold star!
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