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spindly tomatoe seedlings

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
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by allison on April 19, 2006 11:03 AM
I am having issues with the tomatoes for my first garden. I started them 3 weeks ago. They are very long, but not sturdy and hardly any roots to them at all. They have 4-6 leaves at the top, but the stem is VERY thin and spindly. My last frost date is April 20th, but I'm afraid to plant them anytime soon. What have I done wrong? I've heard about hardening, and started that a few days ago when the temps got warmer. Unfortunately, I planted two seeds per tray pot, and I split them, which might not have been such a good idea according to what I've read (of course, after the fact). I put small stakes and tied them up, cause they were intertwining and getting into my pepper and eggplant seedlings. I don't have them under lights, but in the sunniest room in the house. Any and all help will be appreciated.
by Wrennie on April 19, 2006 07:25 PM
When you are ready to plant them outside make a trench instead of a hole. Lay them down sideways and bury the spindly part of the stem up to the first leaves. The buried stem will form roots and be very strong. Dont force the stem uprigh, give it a few days to start standing up towards the sun itself then support it where needed.

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by johnCT on April 19, 2006 07:32 PM
Originally posted by allison:
What have I done wrong?.........

I don't have them under lights, but in the sunniest room in the house.

You just answered your own question. [thumb]

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John - Zone 6
by Sorellina on April 19, 2006 11:15 PM

Not all of us can invest in a light setup but it certainly helps make tomato plants sturdier and stockier. I grew a forest of tomatoes in a south-facing window last year and they were fine. I lost a few because the stems got tall and weak, but I grew over 200 plants, so it really wasn't much of a loss overall. What you want to do until you can transplant them is turn them each day so they don't lean way over to get to the light. On rainy days, give them extra light in the form of a lamp focused directly on them. If you've got a fan, turn that on low and if the fan has an oscillation setting, use it so it blows gently on the plants in an arc. This will strengthen the stems. Then do as Wrennie suggested and trench the plants when you set them out. Resist the temptation to try to stake them immediately. Wait a few days and the plants will bend towards the sun naturally, then stake them so you don't accidentally break the stems.

Buona fortuna,

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by 'Sparagus on April 20, 2006 03:53 AM
I accidentally ended up with an awesome indoor growing basement has flourescent shop lights, so I just hung a shelf from the cieling directly below it. Maybe you have them too! I never knew they would work to grow plants, but they sure do!

Good luck

Karen [flower]
by allison on April 27, 2006 03:59 AM
I put up my light from an old fish tank. I was leaving them outside like suggested by someone else on another thread, but then we had that frost come through last night, so I have them inside now. I will plant them in a trench like Wrennie suggested.
Thanks everyone for your help!!
by dodge on April 28, 2006 12:58 PM
allison ,

I too am Penna and had a white frost the other nite..
32 is dangerous for the annuals...My tomatoes are snug inside. I agree with laying them in a trench.......
they perk up fast and go bananas..


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