Indoor tomato starts


Old 02-03-14, 11:59 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
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Indoor tomato starts

Thinking of trying for the first time, starting tomato plants indoors from seeds. Does Miracle Grow have a formula specifically for tomato plantings...? When to start them...March...? (Wisconsin). Should I have a grow light...? Cover them...? Etc.
Would appreciate knowing the basics....Thanx for any input.
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Old 02-03-14, 01:15 PM
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I just use regular potting soil though I suppose there could be a special tomato mix. Have you checked their website?

As for planting time I would check the almanac for your area for the safe planting time after the last frost. Then back your seed starting time from that. I don't go for full store sized plants but start them about a month before planting but you can start earlier and have larger plants to put in the garden. For me it's mainly a matter of space since I start so many plants. I just don't have room to grow them too big indoors so we start a bit later.

I make pots out of old newspaper about 2" in diameter and 3" deep and start seeds directly in them. I thin once they get about 2-3" tall so there is only one plant per little pot. Then I plant the pot directly in the garden. The pot decomposes and the roots grow through with no transplant shock from disturbing the roots. Some people start the seeds in one container then transplant them up to larger pots as they grow. I find that it is just extra work and stresses the plants a bit.

Also, search the web. There are many sites that provide detailed instructions for starting tomatoes and other garden plants.
Old 02-06-14, 09:20 AM
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Thanx for the input Pilot Dane. I've often used newspaper when transplanting trees, bushes, etc. Someone told me long ago that there are small amounts of ingredients in the ink that plants can utilize...( ??...maybe an old wives tale, but it worked wonders in transplanting...never lost a transplant).
Great idea about making the pots from newspaper....thanx again....Charlie
Old 02-06-14, 09:37 AM
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Don't try to get the biggest plants ready to set out (probably too early here) and have the sit until the weather gets them growing. When that happens, they quickly explode due to the climate and conditions. I just used the peat pots and potting soil, but dirt out of the yard also works well when warmed.

It is a lot fun nursing plants, but frustrating when you try to push Mother Nature. Even early and late varieties are a problem, but can even out the yield rates.
Old 02-06-14, 10:32 AM
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Just to expand on what Dick said... starting the plants too early can stunt them. Around here, tomatoes don't really take off and start growing quickly until June 1st when the hot weather starts to set in. They don't like cool temps at night. So starting them too early will just lead to a stunted, root bound plant. You have to time it just right so that there is no "pause" in the growth of the plant.

For me, that means starting tomatoes indoors April 1st. They will generally be 8 to 10" by the time I want to plant them middle or end of May, depending on the weather. I like to plant them in the 3"-4" peat pots so that they have plenty of soil and so that they do not need to be repotted before they go into the garden. The instructions on the Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food, says: "2 to 3 weeks after planting with Miracle-Gro Garden Soil, begin feeding regularly with Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food to keep your vegetables growing vigorously."

You don't want to give the plants fertilizer too soon, nor too much. If they are over fertilized, it will stunt them badly, and you will see it on the leaves- if they get burnt they will pucker and curl a little. Too little fertilizer is better than too much. When it's time to plant them in the garden, I'll dig a deep hole and water deeply with the fertilizer, then I usually lay the plant on its side- not straight up and down and not too deep- and cover about half of the stem with soil. The stem will grow roots when you bury it like that giving the plant a lot of root potential right away. Planting it shallow also keeps the roots in the warmest part of the garden soil which encourages fast growth. I keep 5 gallon buckets around them, and then eventually put the cages right in the buckets.

I also started a few tomatoes from seed right in the garden (planted the seed around May 10) and they did just fine. Rutgers variety - round, small to medium sized- very prolific.
Old 02-09-14, 05:46 AM
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Very happy and appreciative for all the great info from you guys out there. I specifically want to start a D-Lishious cherry variety called "Sunsugar". They're small. orange in color, and realllly sweet. If you can, try them.
Thanx again....Charlie

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