Tomato Seed 911
Answered by: Ginny Cotterill
Question from: Christine
Posted on: May 11, 2011

I started out my tomatoes from your seed (and some 2nd gen "saved" seeds of yours) about a month ago. I put a few into an expanded peat pellet and kept them inside in a warm place to sprout as I had last year. They began coming up in a few days.

While my Cal-Wonder peppers appear to be starting strong (already have green stems), my tomatoes are once again giving me a hard time. The stems begin white with a little green leaf but after a few weeks I started to expose them to a bit of sun indoors with light peeking through the semi- opened venetians. Within a day or 2 they’d withered down to nothing and seem to have died.

When this happened last year, I placed them in the indirect sunlight of my deck to dry out the peat pellet and try again next year. To my surprise, I got some shoots! These were my late bloomers but at least they bloomed.

Can you please tell me what I am doing wrong? I water them and keep them in a covered plastic greenhouse with the peppers but the peppers are fine while these ones die. PLEASE HELP!

Should I start over or try to "recuscitate" them??

A few issues come to mind, when I consider your tomato seedlings. Firstly, your seedlings sound like they may be suffering from too little light to begin with, followed by light that is too harsh. The peat pellets, once seeded, should be in a bright sunny window continuously. Going from one extreme to the other, may harm the plant tissue. Another possible problem, by your description, is dampening off of the seedlings. When this happens, the seedlings appear to be growing normally, but suddenly succumb to a fungus and rot at soil level. Overcrowding and overwatering can promote the fungus that leads to damp-off. If you think this may be the problem, thin your tomato seedlings to one or two only per pot. Allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. I advise this cautiously, because your seedlings may have also dried out and therefore, died. There is a balance that you need to achieve. When the seedlings first appear, they should have one set of leaves. Soon after, the true set of leaves should appear. Good luck with your tomatoes.

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