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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 14, 2019   #16
e.thad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilaGardener View Post
+1, water around Philly has been hyperchlorinated lately probably because of all the rain this year. Let tap water stand before use or using purified water is an excellent idea!
Uno is in SW PA, whereas Phila. is in SE PA - two totally different water supplies. I'm just outside of Phila, in Bensalem PA. and I think my water is the same as Phila's. I start seeds in Espoma Seed Starter, and use straight tap water. Never had a problem. Everything is always strong and healthy.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #17
Greatgardens
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For those of you that use regular potting mix -- do you screen it to remove twigs, etc? I always had trouble with big "chunks" of debris or mix if I didn't sift it with some 1/4" hardware cloth first. Now I normally use Burpee's Coir starting mix (no sifting required).
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #18
Foose4string
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Originally Posted by Greatgardens View Post
For those of you that use regular potting mix -- do you screen it to remove twigs, etc? I always had trouble with big "chunks" of debris or mix if I didn't sift it with some 1/4" hardware cloth first. Now I normally use Burpee's Coir starting mix (no sifting required).
I don’t screen it. My seeds have done just fine without needing to do that. Additionally, I have found no great advantage to using a starter mix over regular mg potting soil. And don’t even get me started on those darn Jiffy pellets! All that stuff is a waste of money in my opinion, at least where tomatoes are concerned.

I think a lot of people tend to sow their seeds much deeper than necessary. Perhaps the seed starting mixes are a bit more forgiving in that respect? So, I suspect that is why it is popular. I use a typical 72 cell tray and fill each cell loosely to the top with potting soil. Usually, 2 seeds per cell, maybe 3 if it’s older seed. Seed is placed on top of the soil, never in it. Then, sprinkle a very thin layer of soil on top of the seed, just barely enough to cover them. I use a spray bottle to wet soil. Cover with the clear top that comes with the tray. I keep them at room temp. No heating mat required. After about 3 days when I see the first sprout appear I turn on my fluorescents. Two 4’ shop lights, 4 bulbs total, 2 warm white and 2 cool white (2red/2blue) alternating the colors. Hang fixtures as close to the tray as safely possible.

My seedlings don’t appear to be suffering from “stick and bark” trauma at the moment. Although, I think they are just about ready for their first dose of fertilizer.

I have actually culled a bunch of seedlings out of this tray due to the high rate of success.
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Last edited by Foose4string; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:29 PM.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #19
Jetstar
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Bought my seed starting mix at my local ALDI 4.38 so far so good.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #20
Ironwood
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I like to get them a good dose of P when it's time to fertilize. Phosphorus gets those stalks nice and thick and prevents the seedlings from becoming leggy.

The best seed starting mix possible is a good start. Fox farm light warrior seed mix is a good bagged soil available most anywhere if you don't feel up to making your own.

Rule of thumb .. anything but miracle grow..
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #21
Foose4string
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Rule of thumb .. anything but miracle grow..

Yeah, not sure why anyone would use that nasty stuff!
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #22
pmcgrady
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Originally Posted by Ozark View Post
I start seeds the way Carolyn has always taught: Jiffy Mix Seed Starting Mix with no fertilizer until they grow a set of permanent leaves, then transplant into 3" cells filled with MG Potting Mix.

Those always work well for me, but I'm going to change my timing a bit this year. I always start seeds on Mar. 15 and plant out in the ground during the first week of May - that's because our average last killing frost date here is April 15 and, not liking frozen seedlings, I've played it safe.

However, my tomato seedlings are growing bigger than I want them AND other gardens around here are usually a couple of weeks ahead of me in getting ripe summer veggies. I'm going to get braver this year and, keeping an eye on the forecasts, try to get tomatoes and peppers in the ground as soon after April 15 as I can.

Hope I'm not out there after dark covering seedlings to try and keep them from freezing.

Im using Pro Mix BX in 72 cell to germinate and give them a dose of liquid fertilizer when they get true leaves, under cheap shop lights, seems to be working well.
I've started many too early for years, but not this one...
I don't want the earliest tomato of the year... I want the Best one!
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