Now What Do I Do?

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Now What Do I Do?

#1

Post: # 15293Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:50 pm

So I'm very excited to be growing tomato seedlings this year, for the first time ever. (I dunno, maybe I helped my father a bit back more decades ago than I care to enumerate) So I've been kind of preoccupied lately washing my hands and searching for food (and paper towels), yesterday I realized I should look into at what point I'm supposed to be thinning and up-potting my seedlings.

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So I found out I was supposed to thin my seedlings when they were an inch tall...some of them are easy choices, but for instance look at the Artisan Green Bee in the front left, biggest of the bunch. Do I just have to euthanize one? Can I split them apart? Not that I have any space left for another plant.


SO WHAT DO I DO NOW??

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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#2

Post: # 15300Unread post eyegrotom
Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:22 pm

You can split them. Cut the fabric away than sort of crumble the soil with your fingers, than you can gently pull them apart and up pot each one.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#3

Post: # 15301Unread post MissS
Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:34 pm

I agree that you can still divide them without taking a loss. Cut the fabric away and then what I do is I place them in a container of water and gently roll them and then pull them apart. If possible, I replant them deeper than they were, at least to cover the cotyledons (the first leaves). They will form new roots along the stem that you have buried in the soil making it a sturdier plant.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#4

Post: # 15303Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sat Mar 28, 2020 2:46 pm

Ok...thanks for the guidance that I can divide them. But from a "Seedling 101" perspective, when should I have thinned them out? Let me back up.

I planted 2 seeds per pellet (maybe a couple had 3 if there were seeds stuck together). Out of the 16 pellets, 4 are the same variety while the other 12 are all different. I had them on a heat mat "in the dark" (no grow light). The ones that germinated early got left in the dark with the rest; I didn't realize at the time that would make them "leggy". In a couple pellets, a second seedling came up weeks after the first resulting in some very small little brothers.

So what is the height/time to thin? Or are there other variables?

When to up-pot to a larger container? When the roots start coming out the side of the pellet? Or are there other cues?

And, on the topic of "a gardener has to do what a gardener has to do", I have limited space, I'm all planned out for the number of pellets I have (at one seedling per pellet), if I separate some of those pellets that have 2 strong seedlings, I ultimately have nothing to do with the extra plants. Or are you all suggesting that I should cultivate the extra ones as backup in case of seedling disaster? When is the greatest risk of losing a seedling?
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#5

Post: # 15328Unread post brownrexx
Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:04 pm

I look at tomato seedlings a bit differently than some here who can't bear to eliminate a plant. I thin mine to one plant per pot and I don't agonize over "killing" the extras. I admit that they are cute and I do feel a bit bad momentarily but I don't lose any sleep over it. I want one strong plant per pot and don't need extras so why should I divide them? I only grow 15 - 18 tomato plants per year and that is all that I need or have room for.

I pull out the extra plants when I am sure that I have one nice seedling per pot. I thinned mine about 2 weeks after they germinated and before their roots could intertwine with each other.

As others have said, you can divide those seedlings and replant but if you don't need or want the extra plants, then I would take scissors and cut off one of them. This avoids disturbing the roots.

I re-pot mine when I see roots coming out of the drain holes or when the plants reach the lights at their highest setting whichever comes first. I only have a small light set up and once the seedlings are repotted they start living on my covered front porch until time to plant into the garden.

Image20180412_104708 by Brownrexx, on Flickr

ImageDSC00739 by Brownrexx, on Flickr
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#6

Post: # 15349Unread post GoDawgs
Sat Mar 28, 2020 6:47 pm

*nodding in agreement* I'm another one who wields the scissors to cut the extra seedling and re-pot mine the same.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#7

Post: # 15359Unread post eyegrotom
Sat Mar 28, 2020 7:24 pm

If you do split and save some, there is always friends and co- workers to give them to. I take my extras to the local American Legion and pass them out. I never have a problem giving them away, last year it was close to 50 plants.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#8

Post: # 15368Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sat Mar 28, 2020 8:02 pm

brownrexx wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:04 pm
I look at tomato seedlings a bit differently than some here who can't bear to eliminate a plant.
I'm trying not to be that guy. As I said, this is my first time growing seedlings.
brownrexx wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:04 pm
I pull out the extra plants when I am sure that I have one nice seedling per pot. I thinned mine about 2 weeks after they germinated and before their roots could intertwine with each other.

As others have said, you can divide those seedlings and replant but if you don't need or want the extra plants, then I would take scissors and cut off one of them. This avoids disturbing the roots.
I'm a little over 3 weeks since I planted, so 2 to 2.5 weeks after germination for most of them. I guess in the morning I'll sit down see who lives or dies.

What about fertilizer? I watered with half-strength liquid fertilizer a few days ago after (almost) all of them had true leaves...how often do I need to do that?
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#9

Post: # 15393Unread post MissS
Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:37 am

Most of us will thin our seedlings after they have grown their first set of true leaves. I will bury the plants deeper than where they were so that they develop more roots along the stem. I plant them at least deep enough to cover their cotyledon (the first leaf which is their seed leaf).

You up pot as soon as the roots have filled the pot. Do not allow them to become root bound this will set your plants back.

You are doing very well with the fertilizer. I begin feeding sometime after the first true leaf with 1/2 strength of the recommended dose of fertilizer and will feed them with this once a week.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#10

Post: # 15404Unread post brownrexx
Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:56 am

I also start feeding 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer once a week after the seedlings grow their first set of leaves and when I pot them up, I bury them deeper than they were in the smaller pots.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#11

Post: # 15407Unread post PlainJane
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:42 am

I always start 2 or 3 seeds of each variety, and separate them when there are 2 sets of leaves. (That’s my goal anyway lol!)
I save the strongest for my garden and the others go to neighbors and coworkers.
I grow about 45 varieties of tomatoes plus peppers, beans and eggplant during my warm season.

It’s a lot of work, but I love the research, seed starting, planting, and especially giving away to others.
It’s very funny when they come back to me after having googled ’Girl Girl’s Weird Thing’ or ‘Solar Flare’ or ‘Cherokee Lime Stripes’.
I usually say ”yeah, you’re not gonna find that at Home Depot.”
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#12

Post: # 15409Unread post brownrexx
Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:02 am

Some people really enjoy giving away their home grown plants and I think that's great. All of that extra potting up is too much work for me but I really wish that one of you was MY neighbor! I would love to take some of those extra plants of interesting varieties off of your hands.

At harvest time I give away hundreds of pounds of tomatoes to the local retirement home over the course of the season and I really enjoy doing that.

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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#13

Post: # 15423Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:32 am

Thanks for all the suggestions and guidance. I've got almost all of them thinned and some of them in bigger pots. But I have a couple like this--which one would you keep?

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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#14

Post: # 15427Unread post brownrexx
Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:44 pm

Since it will be awhile until we can plant them outside I would keep the smaller one. If it were closer to planting deeply outside then I would keep the larger one. but that's just me. You should make the decision.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#15

Post: # 15428Unread post MissS
Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:50 pm

It depends on what you want and when plant out is. Obviously one seedling is more robust than the other which makes it a good choice. Plant it deeper and it will be a nice healthy stocky plant. If you feel that you have started your seeds too early and don't have the space to grow larger plants then you would choose the smaller one. It is still a very nice healthy plant it just germinated later than the first one.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#16

Post: # 15434Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:30 pm

Thank you both, plant-out was planned for a month from now, but it's been so warm I think we may not have another frost (famous last words). I do have an old cold frame which would reduce my risk a little if I set them out early.

I was also thinking with the "bent over" ones, that I could do a "sideways planting" up-pot since the larger pots I have are not much taller than the pellets, that way more of that stem would be buried.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#17

Post: # 15466Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:33 pm

Well, I got everything thinned and up-potted:

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I tried to Kobayashi Maru the two that were falling over by burying the stem but keeping the smaller plant for a bit to see what happens:

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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#18

Post: # 15468Unread post MissS
Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:49 pm

Be very careful using those peat pots with tomatoes. Next year try to use plastic. These will make it difficult to keep even moisture. They dry out quickly and tend to be either too wet or too dry so it's a good thing that most of us are home all day to babysit them. You do not want your tomatoes to have wet feet. They like to be on the dry side. You may experience some mold growth or damping off using these. Good air circulation is a must to avoid this. A small fan would be great!
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#19

Post: # 15485Unread post Setec Astronomy
Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:16 pm

Ah...another rookie mistake. I have forced air heat and these are right under a register, so my airflow should be pretty good. Thanks for all the help!

I think tomorrow I'm going to plant my peas in the planter outside, going to soak them now.
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Re: Now What Do I Do?

#20

Post: # 15496Unread post PlainJane
Mon Mar 30, 2020 6:14 am

If you can get the light closer to the plants that would be beneficial.
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