Oh, Tomatoes

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Look, funky!

Last year we had this incredible tomato and pepper harvest. Like, hundreds of pounds! This year, we can only keep about two leaves on one plant at a time. It’s the oddest conundrum. This has happened with three separate flats of tomatoes and eggplants, all started at different times. We plant the seeds in little hex flats, put them on a heat mat in the grow tent (a reflective tent for growing seedlings), cover them with a lid, and keep the light relatively warm. The soil stays in the mid-eighties. They sprout beautifully, and grow two cotyledons (first two leaves, or ‘seed leaves’), and grow their first set of true leaves. At about this time, we have removed both the heat mat and the lid. Soon after, they stop growing. They sort of drop all their leaves but the top set (sometimes they get up to two sets of true leaves). They look alive, and they just. won’t. grow.! They have practically no root structure so I am pretty sure they aren’t root bound, but they could have some sort of root fungus?!? If anyone has any ideas on what it might be, please comment and help me out!

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And young, they look so healthy!

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4 thoughts on “Oh, Tomatoes

  1. Is this the same method of sprouting that you used last year? I have absolutely no suggestions. Sorry. Hope you can figure it out. This is the kind of thing that my mother would have called the Purdue Extension Office about! Maybe you can email your Uncle Robert about it.

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  2. If you’re using a seed starting mix there isn’t much nutrient in there anyway, the seeds don’t need it. If you are growing them on in the same mix/modules then you may need to feed them a bit.

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  3. Did you start them off the same way last year? Maybe the shock of going from 80 plus degrees to ambient is finishing them off. Do you move them in one hit, or ease them into it gradually? 80 deg sounds quite hot, I use 70. But they do seem to be germinating so perhaps that’s not it. Doesn’t sound like damping off as that normally just kills them flat out. Are you using a different compost mix? Maybe try a different batch, sterilised in the oven. You could also try giving the compost a fungicidal drench before sowing. Are all the seeds one variety? Maybe it’s a dodgy batch.

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    1. Hi cavershamjj, thank you for your comment! I really appreciate all the ideas and I will definetely try them. We did start them the same last year, except we used a different sterile seed starting mix. They are under a florescent light, so ambient temperature is about seventy – eight degrees. I like the thought about the soil- this time we bought a huge bag (but it is sterile) and last year, we used a different brand. I am not familiar with fungicidal drenches, but I will definetely research them and try it out. Would oven sterilization kill nutrients in the soil? I don’t think it is the seeds, though, because we planted about twenty different varieties from different companies. As I said earlier, thank you very much for the comment and advice!

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