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Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 12, 2009

How NOT to start tomatoes

Ok, here we go. I have to say I read a lot of blogs, and often times I'm inspired by them to try things that I never would have thought of. I've seen beautiful heirlooms veggies that make me want to try new breeds. I've learned how to make yogurt and cheese from scratch, and I've been honored enough to have occasionally inspired others (their words not mine). Often times these kind of blogs are visited by new readers that are searching for answers to many of the same questions that inspired the authors to research answers and to post their solutions online in the first place. I know there was a time, and some times there still are times, when I would look at what someone or some family is able to accomplish and think "Man, these guys are awesome! They never screw things up!". It can be really disheartening when you're just starting off and you make some mistake you think is just stupid and you imagine that others don't make those kind of mistakes. You know what though, I bet they do. Goodness knows I do.

I may not advertise all my screw ups, and when I do make them I've learned to work hard to not make them again, but I learn from every one of them. In fact their often my best lessons. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, and so that perhaps someone can learn from my mistake. Here is a biggie for this year.No biggie right? It looks a little bit dry, maybe could use a little supplement or something, but not bad for a week and a half old tomato start right? Yeah, that would be true if it wasn't 6 and a half weeks old instead!And here's the rest of the family. A pathetic, ugly bunch of purplish-yellow leaved stunted failures!

So, yeah, the tomato starts that are going in the garden this week end are not from my super slick seed starter set up. but rather were picked up at a local family run nursery a couple of weeks ago. They're about 50/50 heirlooms and hybrids and they're doing very well and are hardening off as we speak.

What happened though? best I can guess it was a problem with the temperature. The cold weather seedlings that I started did great, couldn't have asked for better. However, as we all know, tomatoes are not cold tolerant plants. From my post-mortem research, I've learned that colder, moist temperatures can cause a lock-up of phosphorus in the soil that will cause a Phos. deficiency. As the plants started displaying their early symptoms, I tried a little more water. Not too much, as this causes a whole lot of other issues, but I didn't let them completely dry out either. This extra water in the cool climate of my basement was, I think, I culprit. The seedlings are still alive, but very stunted and unhealthy. I'm trying to keep them outside and see what happens, but I'm not counting on them at all this year.

So there you go, my biggest seedling failure to date. (See Irma, nothing to worry about, the peas are doing fantastic!) It's ugly, but not that big a deal really. I know I'm still learning a lot of things and every time I have these kinds of set backs I get a little better. Take heart if you've had failures too. They happen. Keep pressing forward and challenging your self.

I will!
P~

12 comments:

Margaret's Ramblings said...

Don't worry, we all make mistakes. With me this year it was the sweetpea seedlings. Don't know what I did wrong but they just refused to grow. Oh well, thank goodness for the garden centre although I hate giving them my money.

Margaret

wendyusuallywanders said...

Did you try feeding the transplants? Seedling potting soil is only meant to support them just so far, then you need to feed them with seaweed/fish emulsion or something like Miracle Grow. Try it on these and they will perk right up and become lush.

nanofarminginnewmexico said...

I did the exact same thing this year! You should see my post about it. All I can say is thank God other people aren't perfect either. I'm so glad there are people willing to admit their imperfections in this "community" we have created. Thank you so much!

Chiot's Run said...

That's too bad, it happens to us all though. This is how we learn from year to year. Not to mention it keeps us humble, if we always were successful we'd start to think we had a super green thumb, but knowledge and skill can only get you so far in gardening.

I can't get sweet peas to start for the life of me (I think the chipmunks eat them). I also have trouble with my peas this year, but I think it was because they were seeds from last year.

I second Wendy, trying spraying the leaves with a little fish emulsion and see if that gives them a boost. I always give that a shot before I trash anything, and if you end up trashing them at least it's not a total lost, just compost fodder :)

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

I lost 2 entire flats of tomato seedlings due to damp surface soil and cool temps. Ah, well, chalk it up to character building exercises. If life were easy, it wouldn't be FUN!

farm mom said...

Oh you are a brave man! Actually, my tomato seedlings are looking strikingly similar. It's been a cold, damp spring and where we moved the seedlings to in the basement seems to not be turning into the ideal spot after all. Bummer indeed, but it does happen to all of us. Thanks for putting yours out there p, now I don't have to! ;)

Amanda said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! As you know, this is my first year with a "real" garden, and I have had a few failures. I was really beating myself up about it. Reading you post gave me a lot of encouragement. My tomato seedlings are also looking similar to the picture that you posted. But, hey, at least we aren't alone!

Irma said...

Ha, it will be many a day before I attempt to grow tomatoes by seed, thanks! My peas, however, are IN, and we also used your "skewers and quarters" tip on the bed to try to keep my cat out. My son now calls skewers "kitty sticks", and something tells me it's going to become one of those words that get passed down within a family.

mostlygardening said...

....well, they're not dead yet so at least there's still hope for your seedlings...unless you planted yours out too early and lost 80% of them to a hard frost last night...like some people...

Eva said...

My new garden is looking pretty pathetic. Not much is growing well, except the zucchini. But... there aren't any bees around to pollinate the flowers. I believe my soil in dead. Prior to planting, I worked in some manure & compost but I don't think it was enough. Also, my okra and cucumber sprouts keep getting munched completely off. I've replanted three times.
Glad to hear the rest of your garden is doing well!!

gintoino said...

Last year I also had stunted ugly looking tomato seedlings but I went away and planted them in the garden just the same. They grew into gigantic tomato plants that gave me a huge tomato crop. Maybe you should give them a chance ;-)

MasterpieceMom said...

same thing happened to my tomatoes. (and peppers and eggplant in the same flat)

However, i was able to revive them by bringing them into the bright, hot sun outside my greenhouse during the day.

They've finally perked up.