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  1. #1

    Need help with spindly tomato seedlings

    I have no idea what I do wrong, but it is definitely wrong when I plant tomato seeds. I have searched high and low for websites that might give me a hint, but I seem to find nothing I didn't already know. This last batch I just planted looks like every batch I have planted-----long and spindly.

    These were planted in seed starting mix, some in peat pots and some in homemade pots from newspaper. I was very careful to plant them at the exact depth. They are watered into the pan they are sitting in allowing the water to soak into their containers. I put them into their own little hothouse with either a clear plastic cover or cover them myself with plastic wrap until they are up with true leaves and then uncover them. They are placed at a south window for sun and some actually get a plant light. Seems to make no difference whether they have the light or not, they look the same. The rooms they are in are warm inside the house.

    All of that said, I could pitch them into a pot with some dirt and water them when I remembered and I do believe they come out looking just the same----long, skinny and pitiful looking.

    I've searched websites til I'm crosseyed and can't seem to find out my problem. Can some of you successful tomato plant starters tell me what I must be doing wrong?

    Thanks folks. You are so helpful.

  2. #2
    It sounds like not enough, or strong enough light. Grow lights need to be kept very close to the leaves. When you plant them bury them to where only the top is above ground level. Roots will form on the buried stem.

  3. #3
    What Montel said.

    And don't forget to TURN the started cups once every couple days. The stem is climbing towards sun light and will often get lopsided. Turning the cups sometimes helps this.

  4. #4
    Heat stress?

    If they are in a heated room (your house) why are you covering them with plastic? That may be the problem, too hot. I am by no means a great gardner, but I have never had to put plastic over any of my seedlings that I kept indoors until they were mature enough and the risk of frost has passed. There was an article somewhere I forget, that if the soil is too hot (read shallow seedling pots in direct sunlight) you are actually slowing everything down and harming the roots. **shrug** again, I am by no means a gardening guru, but man do I love not paying the grocer for the majority of my produce.

  5. #5
    2014 Silver Site supporter Rmplstlskn's Avatar
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    I would say BOTH light & heat... But I think LIGHT is primary. Your seedlings are STRETCHING towards the light. It is either not enough or too distant. Greenhouses use white/frosted plastic which diffuses the light inside so it surrounds the area equally, so there is nothing the plants are REACHING for (light source).

    For seedlings inside, light close as possible works best. But it is an art that I have yet to master myself...

    Rmpl

  6. #6
    Thanks Folks. I really appreciate your input. The old saying, "youth is wasted on the young" is so true. I remember people starting tomatoes from seed when I was too young and foolish to care just how they were doing it. I'm sure the pioneers didn't hop down to the feed store or to Lowe's and pick up their beautifully grown tomato plants to put into the ground. Maybe eventually I will find someone who knows how to do it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sherldoe View Post
    Thanks Folks. I really appreciate your input. The old saying, "youth is wasted on the young" is so true. I remember people starting tomatoes from seed when I was too young and foolish to care just how they were doing it. I'm sure the pioneers didn't hop down to the feed store or to Lowe's and pick up their beautifully grown tomato plants to put into the ground. Maybe eventually I will find someone who knows how to do it.
    Dont think because they don't make it you are failing!! You will always lose plants. I have lost hundreds of tomatoe seedlings over the years because they are just not that tough. Always grow more than you need/want in when dealing with any seedlings because they will perish on you even when you do everything right. Keep plugging at it.
    Everyone here is giving you great thoughts on what is happening too. They are dead on.

  8. #8
    It's almost always light when they shoot up like that, they( seedlings) are doing their best to get up to a hieght that will give them strong sunlight so they can grow healthy. Usualy heat wont make them shoot up like that, they normaly just wilt some, and then recuoperate after the temp goes down. But they do have problems with moisture on there leaves. So, I'm thinking stronger sunlight or maybe a grow light would help your seedlings.
    I hope this helps.

  9. #9
    2011 Site Supporter, Thread Contest winner
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    YouTube has some really good video on growing tomatoes from seeds. It's all in the light. Grow lights must be 2 inches above the plants. No more - 2 inches or less. Also, the lights should be on 24 hours a day until the second set of leaves pop out. They you transplant them to their own little pot. Plant them deeply as the sides of the stems also shoot out roots.

    That's what the experts say - it worked last year, and seems to be working this year.

  10. #10
    24 hours under light until the second set of leaves?? Interesting.
    That one is new to me,, I will have to try it.
    If it works, it would definitely hasten things along.
    Thanks

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