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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old March 20, 2019   #16
Labradors2
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Oakley, thanks for the detailed description! I too have been using trays that are about half the 1020 size. They are sturdy and easy to haul around. I bought them in WM and they don't have smooth bottoms, so no good for bottom watering. The 1020's that I found in Lowes seem to be fairly sturdy, but I will have to be careful not to drop them!

Brownrexx, sounds like my modus operandi, top watering every day, except that when the seedlings are tiny, I water them with a teaspoon, just enough to keep them alive, but not drown them or cause damping off in my chilly basement!

Perhaps bottom watering would be a better idea for me after I have potted up.

Linda
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Old March 20, 2019   #17
sjamesNorway
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I bottom water as long as my plants are in flats or pots - until I plant them out in containers or earth. I weigh one flat and one pot with completely dry planting mix. Then I weigh the flat or pot with the plant(s) before watering, so I have an objective measure of the moisture level.


Steve
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Old March 20, 2019   #18
Labradors2
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Steve, I was hoping that someone would say something about measuring the water used. I guess I will just have to try different measurements of water for each tray until I can figure out the perfect amount for each watering.

Linda
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Old March 20, 2019   #19
oakley
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Watering needs change daily. No real guessing or measuring. For young seedlings
an inch or so tall I just quickly lift the front edge of each tray in the morning. They get
thirsty at the first sign of true leaves.

If any tray feels light I pull it down to my workbench below. Take it out of the 1010
tray a put it in my back burner watering sheet pan. The only things needing water
this morning were the 1010 salad tray and three micro green trays and just one 4inch
pot of a larger dwarf plant. Took all of 5 minutes.

I'll check again tonight. I like to let them dry out. Your own temps and humidity will also
determine water needs. My basement is a bit chilly. But my three trays of larger plants
have been spending the past couple days in a south sunny window. Just one plant of 27
was dry.
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Old March 21, 2019   #20
e.thad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SQWIBB View Post
Place a fan that will blow lightly across the plants to study them up and prevent damping off.
Curious as to how young the seedlings are when you start using the fan and for how long each day do you let it run?
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Old March 21, 2019   #21
Cole_Robbie
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Another vote here for bottom watering. I don't water until tops are dry, then I float the flat in shallow water until the root balls sink. Overwatering root rot is an overgrowth of pythium. It is much worse in cold temps and mucky media. In very hot weather, soaking my container tomatoes and peppers is the only way I can keep them looking healthy.
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Old March 21, 2019   #22
SQWIBB
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I think I'm the odd man out, I add water to the trays every day.

24 hours later if they are dry I add more, if there is still water in the pan and depending on how much water... I add more accordingly.

I start the fans the day the seedlings emerge and they run 16 hours a day like the lights.

Last edited by SQWIBB; March 21, 2019 at 08:21 PM.
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Old December 12, 2020   #23
WoodSprite
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I know this is an old thread but I'll comment, too.

I always bottom water. My cell packs & pots are in 1020 flats. I try to leave one pot out of the corner of the flat so that I can easily pour water in at that location. With the one pot missing from the corner of the flat and the type of watering bottles I use, I don't need to raise the lights to water. I just pull one tray at a time out from under the lights by a few inches and pour the water into the corner, and put the tray back into place. Since my trays are level, the water will level out and reach all of the pots.

If I don't leave a pot out of the corner, then I just temporarily remove a corner pot, water, and put the pot back in.

For a watering can, I upcycle several large juice bottles that I've rinsed well. After each watering, I refill the containers with tap water, leave the caps off the bottles and let them sit until the next watering time. When it's time to start adding fertilizer, I just add it to the bottles, put the lids on, give them a good shake and remove the lids again.

As far as how much, that's going to depend on how dry the seed starting mix is and how many pots/plants I have in the tray. When learning to gauge how much water, it's better to err less than you think, give the water a chance to soak in, check the soil with your finger and add more if needed. You'll develop an instinct for how much to use over time.

If you get too much water, instead of taking all of the pots out to empty the excess water, it's easy to slightly lift one side of the tray (so the water pools to the other side) and use a plant-dedicated turkey baster where the missing pot is to remove the excess water. Just have a container handy and suction some water out, squirt it in the container, and repeat until you have removed the amount of water that you want to remove.
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