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Go Go Tomato!

Despite my early melodramatic misgivings, in the words of Monty Python, they are not dead yet.

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They are certainly not without imperfection. Who among us is? Are you gonna judge?

I’m referring to them as ‘scrappy’ in their mismatched, scavenged pots proudly boasting wounds of early mistreatment.

Maybe again with the melodrama.

If we look at the tops, everything is peachy.

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New healthy leaves, and they continue to grow and grow and grow. I have to keep raising their light.

Course, these pictures are mostly of the healthy batch, who’ve inexplicably done markedly better than their siblings.

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While not the most fabulous picture, it does show the difference between the mover-shakers, and the just gonna kind of putter along’s in my small tomato community.

These two were planted at the same time, from the same seeds. Differences are one may have lived in an egg carton, and the other was up potted one week earlier. Note to self and general PSA: Do not use egg cartons for starting tomatoes.

Why the recovery? What have I done?

Up-Potted. Even my thriving starts were starting to look increasingly rough around the edges. Advice on when or if one should move them to bigger digs is mixed. It was fish or cut bait time. I collected all the recycled pots and yogurt/sour cream/take-out containers I could get my hands on, and made the leap. At first I did just the big boys. They did so well, I moved the stragglers last weekend.

Stopped Watering. In a big way. When I up-potted the successful bunch, I used moistened seed start and a bit of compost. I then proceeded to check them obsessively, but not actually give them water for FOUR DAYS. They didn’t need it. A recent visit to a more experienced friend’s house and a look-see at his plants, showed me I was really really over watering. The soil his plants were in was significantly drier. I now give much smaller sips of water, much less frequently, typically just once a day. There has been a few missteps and casualties. On the whole, everyone is happier with the decreased agua situation.

Fertilized. Another case where there doesn’t seem to be any exact way or time to do this. All plants got a very dilute fish emulsion (ewww) mixture shortly before giving them their fancy new dairy container homes. As mentioned, I also added a small amount of commerical compost to their seed starting soil at that time. No idea if that was right or wrong.

And I’m brewing up a batch of vermicompost.

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It needs a little more water in this picture. There are worms in there. Hard at work making plant food for future fertilization.

Will they survive? Can they fully recover?

I think they are on the mend. I’ve never done this before, so what do I know? There is undoubtedly some ugliness still going on. They could have some sort of fungus, which will impact the new, improved leaves any second now. I could have done irreparable damage to them with my mistreatment from a young age. There is also still plenty of time to screw this up further. Its barely mid-March. This is all part of an elaborate plan, but I think I’ve demonstrated, plan or no, execution can still be compromised.

This tomato project, its eating up a ridiculous amount of my time, mental cycles, and growing space. There is basically no room for additional starts. I’ve squeezed in a small tray of spinach and my onions solider on. Everything else is going to have to be sown in a cloche. Next year more lights, more surface area, or less tomatoes.

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Comments

Miser Mom
Reply

Oh, they are beautiful. I’ve been so jealous. Here in Pennsylvania, we’re not supposed to start our tomato seeds until March 15. Well, calendar be damned. I’m starting seeds this weekend.

dogsordollars
Reply

Start ‘em! :)

Trish
Reply

those look great! what is your light regime? And when did you plant the seeds? I am only just starting some seed. We are planning on building a small polyhouse this summer, and starting seeds in January, hoping to put them in the ground in the poly house in March, and fingers crossed, have ripe tomatoes in June.

dogsordollars
Reply

Thanks! My light regime should be more of a regime than it really is. :) I don’t have a timer, but the plants are on the way to the bathroom. So when I get up in the morning, they get plugged in ~5am. When I go to bed at night, they are unplugged ~8:30pm. There has been some variation in this. Nights we are out late or sleep late the schedule hasn’t been quite that strict.

I started them in January. They won’t be endeavoring outside for a while yet.

Kimberly
Reply

I’m a first year veggie gardener, with tomato seedlings growing under shop lights in an upstairs (un-heated) nook. And I end ever status update with “so far” with every expectation that Something Will Go Wrong any moment now. They’re only about two weeks past germination right now, which seems to be a bit late, but I’ll learn, and next year I’ll start earlier.

I already learned a better technique for removing the seed-casings from the heads of my tomato plants, after accidentally ripping off the heads of a few plants. And I’ve read that I should probably soak my seeds next time, so that I don’t have this problem as much.

I also learned that I should figure out how much space I have for tomato plants BEFORE planting seeds. I currently have ~48 tomato seedlings, and only have space for *maybe* 18 plants. Ooops. I’ll be looking for a barter / plant swap in late April or early June..

I loved this post! :) It was very useful and comforting to know that other people wax melodramatic about their plants.

Lorrie
Reply

Add a small fan on low. It helps strengthen the plant’s base so it is stronger for transplant. Nature provides the gentle breeze, so you just need the artificial one until they go out.

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