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tomato: transplant vs. seed  RSS feed

 
Matthew Steffen
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I believe in colder climates, starting indoors is the only way to go. The 1st set of pics in my LAST post are the day i transplanted. I buried 74% of the tomato under the ground. Here is what i produce by EARLY august now. The hoop house also keeps the wicked spring winds off my plants.....
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Home grown tomatoes bountiful harvest
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Large home grown tomato
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Home grown peppers
 
leila hamaya
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Coralee Palmer wrote:We live on the Oregon Coast and would like to enter the competition.

We are experimenting with how best to raise tomatoes next to the ocean.

Tomato production on the Oregon Coast is challenging because of the large amount of cold Oregon rain; the Coast’s earth is cold until usually June or early July. Therefore, to get the right mixture of aerated media and nutrients for our coast is extremely important.

Our TomatoBarrel
We have grown tomatoes next to the ocean for the last two years. We have not grown any tomato plant in our TomatoBarrel over 8ft.

Another Tall Tomato Plant



i personally will be interested in your results, i lived on the california coast (pretty much the same foggy lukewarm region) for 8 years and gave up completely on growing tomatoes outside. i had one or two i kept under a skylight inside, but failed every time i tried to grow outdoors, no matter what i tried.
everyone else i knew who grew there also had the same experience so we all just accepted that tomatoes were not possible to grow there at all, except in a greenhouse.
the moisture in the air and lack of solid sunshine in the middle summer was not what they needed, and even though i almost got a couple to grow big, they got funks real bad from too much moisture, and produced no tomatoes.

i think if you get any tomatoes at all it will be a success.

this year i am psyched to plant all the stuff i couldnt grow on the coast and already started a bunch of varieties of tomatoes! and melons too =) another plant that was impossible to grow as well as a ton of peppers .

anywho good luck.
 
duane hennon
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here in west pa
i've have good luck with volunteer tomatoes until recently
we have problems with late blight
it's everywhere and blows in with the wind
come October it wipes out volunteers just as the fruit starts to ripen
transplants also get it but they have given fruit since August
so at least we get some
 
A.J. Gentry
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Fredrik Lundstrom wrote:Hey guys!

Decided to create an account on the forum just for this topic. Have been reading for a year or so already.

I went out and planted my seedling and seed today in to my raised garden beds and recorded a few videos about it. I will be uploading all the videos to the playlist here:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdoRfWYK9gAWpt5Zimk4htyPlVsczTe8X

The tomato I am using is a Siberian tomato which is cold hardy and it was 9C (48F) today when I planted them. Although I really doubt that the tomatoes from the seeds will produce a better plant I am more than willing to be proven wrong with this experiment.

-Fredrik


Welcome to Permies! Fredrik.

I watched your videos -- great start right out the gate.

Good luck and keep us posted.

A.J.
 
William Ross
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I'm in for the fun. we'll keep you posted on our tomato experiment.
 
Sunshine McCarthy
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I think I'd like to enter.

I live in northern Illinois, with the late winter It is just about time to start planting.

I recently moved, my vegetable garden is in its second year. Last year I dropped damaged fruit into the beds hoping to get some "Volunteers" this year to harvest. It looks like I have a few tomato sprouts coming up. Would that qualify for the seeded part of the test? I was planning to buy plants of the same varieties I had last year, specifically green zebra, and sungold. All will be in a 10 by 20 foot suburban garden. Since I had a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes last year the seeds may be cross breads.

Would that qualify for your experiment? If so count me in. I can document growth in photographs and record yield. I can also get my family to do a blind taste test.
 
J Bach
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I'd like to join in this experiment. I'm a long time reader, first time poster (I think this is my first), and this seems as good a time as any to start joining in the conversations!

We don't buy any products in plastic jugs I could use as a cloche, so I will be using Walls O Water as my cloche. Last year I didn't plant transplants until about June 5th or 6th (to be honest, I planted about a week before that and nearly everything was killed with a freeze!). This Spring is considerably warmer though, so this years plant out time might be the last week of May. That puts me about at about a month early right now. I've got two raised beds to do this with, I think I'll try Bloody Butcher in one and Little Bells in the other (both fresh seed from last year).
 
Jesse Biggs
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Well my timeline seems kinda screwed up but hey this sounds like fun so here we go! Today I planted 4 varieties of tomatoes.

It's about 2 weeks before my last frost date.

This all happened this morning.

Indoors:
Each variety was planted into a soil cube (one seed per cube) and placed on the table against a big south facing window.

Outdoors:
The same varieties were planted under make shift mason jar cloches (2 seeds per jar).

I'll try to find some already started transplants as well.



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Planting seeds in soil blocks
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Make shift mason jar cloche
 
Jesse Biggs
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There are 8 cloches in the first shot if you look REAL close.
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jon wareham
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This is a funny forum because I started a bunch of tomato seeds indoors at the end of March and I've been nursing them along, but I was awe struck to stroll past some of the tomato starts at Home Depot last weekend and see how much bigger they are than my little toms at home. I was a bit heartborken, but I'm holding to the fact that I can take the seeds from my best tomatoes and continue to have a better garden every year.

Ironically I got my seeds from Peaceful Valley who I found out about via my favorite youtube channel One Yard Revolution:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv9ITE5nuShQ37Xd-NVkdcg

Anyway, I am growing some types of tomatoes that they won't have at home depot, but I think I will transplant my #1 contender next to the store bought and see how they do side by side. Hopefully it will be entertaining.

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Need to get these outside
 
Mike Hamilton
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ya we will give it a go, we have 3' of the first huglebed almost to height[just started building it yesterday] we had 1.5'' of snow last week Thursday
the tomato plant's will be ''mountain princess'' they are a short season heirloom
the seed will be out of the same package and the plants that are all ready started are 12'' tall in rockwool
nutrients will be compost only [3 yr old pile just waiting to be used] and spring water if needed sense its a new hill

ill have to have help with pictures from my wife

Mike
 
Kim Hill
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I may be a bit late but since I do not have my plants into the ground yet, I am game. I would like to find out if my best transplants are out performed by seeds. I have 2 different varieties that are about 20" tall already and have been transplanted 2 times into deeper containers to help develop larger roots. It would be pretty amazing to see if a seed could out perform my best efforts. As soon as I get them planted, I will begin taking pictures and documenting how they are growing. I wish I would have seen this earlier because I would have started earlier in the hoop house or a cloche but it is never too late to experiment.
 
D. Logan
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jon wareham wrote:This is a funny forum because I started a bunch of tomato seeds indoors at the end of March and I've been nursing them along, but I was awe struck to stroll past some of the tomato starts at Home Depot last weekend and see how much bigger they are than my little toms at home. I was a bit heartborken, but I'm holding to the fact that I can take the seeds from my best tomatoes and continue to have a better garden every year.


Don't get too heartbroken. Having worked for a greenhouse, Those 'bigger' tomatoes not only got started months before your own, but were also pumped full of chemical fertilizers in their water to make sure they got a breakneck start on yours. We can't all start in January after all.
 
Jamie Wallace
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Nice work Matthew...
 
Fredrik Lundstrom
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I went to my garden plot today and I was very happy to notice that my tomato seeds had germinated, I planted them 16 days ago. I'm quite happy with the germination speed, not obviously as fast as if I start them on the heated bathroom floor but good enough. The race is on!

 
Tim Malacarne
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Nice work Matthew! Like the man said, "You can't argue with results."

I plant transplants, bought from a local nursery. We're not too far from St. Louis. In 2012 had a ripe tomato on the last day of May, off an Early Girl. Genetics counts!

We get too many tomatoes if anything. Have cut back to 9 plants this year. They seem fairly easy to grow, really. You grow too much it goes to compost pile or you drive around giving it away, not too energy smart....
 
Mike Hamilton
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Mike Hamilton wrote:ya we will give it a go, we have 3' of the first huglebed almost to height[just started building it yesterday] we had 1.5'' of snow last week Thursday
the tomato plant's will be ''mountain princess'' they are a short season heirloom
the seed will be out of the same package and the plants that are all ready started are 12'' tall in rockwool
nutrients will be compost only [3 yr old pile just waiting to be used] and spring water if needed sense its a new hill

ill have to have help with pictures from my wife

Mike


welp its been 10 days, the bed is done and the trans plants are in and the seed too
no sign of seed's coming up yet [went from winter to summer]
transplants doing great,new growth is dark green with just compost
ill peek at the seeds tomorrow because the guard skunk is out for the night[gota get a picture of it too]

Mike
 
Mike Hamilton
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Mike Hamilton wrote:
Mike Hamilton wrote:ya we will give it a go, we have 3' of the first huglebed almost to height[just started building it yesterday] we had 1.5'' of snow last week Thursday
the tomato plant's will be ''mountain princess'' they are a short season heirloom
the seed will be out of the same package and the plants that are all ready started are 12'' tall in rockwool
nutrients will be compost only [3 yr old pile just waiting to be used] and spring water if needed sense its a new hill

ill have to have help with pictures from my wife

Mike


welp its been 10 days, the bed is done and the trans plants are in and the seed too
no sign of seed's coming up yet [went from winter to summer]
transplants doing great,new growth is dark green with just compost
ill peek at the seeds tomorrow because the guard skunk is out for the night[gota get a picture of it too]

Mike


just a quick update;
we received 6'' of rain in the last 24 hrs
the Hugelbed is looking great and well soaked

Mike
 
Fredrik Lundstrom
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Some of the transplanted tomatoes have started to develop flowers and the tomatoes grown from seed are around 10cm (4 inches) tall. Still a long way to go but there is still 3 months left of the growing season so plenty of time for the seedlings to produce. It has been two months since I planted the seeds so they are growing slower than the ones started in doors because of the colder weather but warmer weather will hopefully speed things up.
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Transplant vs seed comparison
 
Jonathan Krohn
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Here is the Krohn family Submission. If anyone wants a copy of my original spreadsheet, I would be happy to email it, but I cannot attach an ODS or XLS file to a forum post.

Background and Methods

This experimental trial was a joint effort between myself and my mother, the primary gardeners in our family. At our location in the Denver Metropolitan Area, our median last frost is May 9 and our median first frost is October 1, which makes for a growing season of around 145 days. We used three open-pollinated tomato varieties: Moskvich bought in 2014 from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (days to maturity not listed), Pink Brandywine from seed we saved in 2013 (78 – 90 days to maturity), and Striped German from seed we saved in 2013 (78 days to maturity).

We started the seeds indoors April 2 and April 16, giving us roughly six week old transplants and four week old transplants. After being started in four-packs, the April 2 plants were transplanted into 1-quart plastic containers and the April 16 plants into 1-cup plastic containers. These transplants were planted outside between May 17 and May 24 and given no protection. We direct-seeded 3-4 seeds of each variety on April 30 and May 1. The Moskvich and Striped German seeds were protected by walls of water, and the Pink Brandywine seeds by plastic bottles. Additional Pink Brandywine seeds were direct-sown without protection on the same day that the transplants of this variety were planted outdoors. Thus, there were four experimental groups: six-week transplanted, four-week transplanted, two-week direct-sown with protection, and zero-week direct-sown without protection. The first three groups were tested with all varieties, and the last group with Pink Brandywines only (see attached spreadsheet for additional details).

Where necessary, the plants from the same variety but different experimental groups were separated from one another by varieties which ripened to a different color to make it easier to distinguish fruits from each plant. We mixed Transplant Care Nutrient Mix from Gardens Alive (a “specially formulated mixture of fertilizers, beneficial bacteria and fungi”) into the soil when all of the seeds were started and we mixed Tomatoes Alive! into the garden soil around the Moskviches and Striped Germans when the plants were set out.

The three varieties of tomatoes were grown in three different locations so that different microclimates could be compared. The Moskviches were planted in a bed established in 2013 and were watered regularly. The Pink Brandywines were grown at the southwestern base of a hugelkultur built in 2013 and were irrigated only at the beginning of the season until they were established. Finally, the Striped Germans were located in a well-established, 10+ year old bed and were watered regularly.

Results and Discussion

The results by variety and group are provided in the attached spreadsheet. In 2 of 3 varieties, the six-week plants produced earliest, but the first fruits had end blossom rot. In the other variety, the six-week and four-week plants started producing at the same time. If the fruits with end blossom rot are eliminated, there is no difference in the dates for first ripe fruit between any of the groups. Regarding productivity, all of the plants that were started earlier produced more pounds of ripe fruit than those that were started later. In addition, most of the plants that were started earlier still have a greater number of partly ripe or green fruits on their vines than do those started later (we have not received a killing frost yet).

Even though this trial used three different tomato varieties planted in three different locations, most of the results were similar. In all cases, production was directly correlated with plant age: older plants produced more fruit. The direct-seeded plants performed poorly in general. The exception was the Moskvich, which was advertised by Baker Creek as performing “well in cool to cold conditions.” This appears to be true, as all three seeds that were planted germinated. Since they were planted closely, however, the two weakest seedlings were culled to avoid crowding. In the end, the production of the direct-seeded plant was only about 10% lower than that of the 6-week plant, though the 6-week plant had many more immature fruits still on the vine. The other two varieties performed very poorly when direct-seeded, however. When the initial 2-week seeds failed to germinate, they were replanted, but none came up even then. Counting the 0-week group, we direct-seeded a total of 15-20 Pink Brandywine and Striped German seeds, of which none successfully germinated.

Conclusions

Our primary conclusion from this trial is that transplanted tomatoes tend to perform better than direct-seeded tomatoes. Secondly, most tomato varieties appear to germinate poorly in Denver, Colorado when direct-sown. The direct-sown Moskvich, however, performed almost as well as the transplant, and further experimentation should be conducted with it or other varieties that are known to be cold-tolerant to see how well they germinate and grow in cool soil during late spring. With additional research, it is likely that varieties can be found or bred that will perform quite well when direct-seeded.
Filename: 2014tomatotrials.pdf
File size: 22 Kbytes
 
Leila Rich
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Awesome Jonathan! Any other folks with results?
I wonder if we could add a third part to the experiment next season where we encourage actual tomato volunteers,
and compare their performance to direct-seeded and transplanted?
It'd be totally unscientific, but in my experience volunteer and direct-seeded plants are very different beasts.
Maybe compare when they germinate, last ripe fruit etc.

I can leave tomatoes to rot on the ground and pop up when they feel like it,
but do subtropical plant seeds survive a Northern hemisphere winter outside?
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Wow, if I was to mark this as a lab report, it would be A+!

My corollary from your conclusion is that it would be possible to improve the direct seeded Moskvich so that it would catch up to the transplant and produce even better. I would go Luther Burbank mass selection style!
 
Julia Winter
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Leila Rich wrote:
I can leave tomatoes to rot on the ground and pop up when they feel like it,
but do subtropical plant seeds survive a Northern hemisphere winter outside?


Yes, every year in Wisconsin some volunteer tomatoes would appear. Seeds are tough!

 
Jonathan Krohn
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Leila - Adding in actual volunteers would be quite interesting. And I don't know that I would worry too much about how scientific it is - this whole project is a little weak in that regard, because we're relying on such small sample sizes (and because the expressed goal was to prove something). I was just recently wondering the same thing about whether tomato seeds would survive over a northern winter. I guess it must be possible, though, since I have seen a number of volunteer plants in Denver, and it sounds like Paul has had volunteers in Missoula.

Adrien - Thanks! I was helped in my writeup by having just finished my senior thesis for college a little over three months ago. I actually researched hugelkultur microclimates for that project, which was interesting (I've been planning to post my results here on the forums ever since then, but I need to get around to actually doing it...).

My thoughts on the Moskvich were similar to yours. One of my trains of thought went something like this: All tomato varieties have been selectively bred. I suspect that people have started tomatoes indoors for quite some time, rather than relying on self-seeding. Therefore, even our heirlooms were probably bred to germinate well indoors, not outdoors. As a result, it may take some selective breeding to get a good feral tomato (!). It appears that Moskviches might have a good head start, however.

Jonathan
 
Cj Sloane
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Jonathan Krohn wrote:I suspect that people have started tomatoes indoors for quite some time, rather than relying on self-seeding. Therefore, even our heirlooms were probably bred to germinate well indoors, not outdoors. As a result, it may take some selective breeding to get a good feral tomato (!). It appears that Moskviches might have a good head start, however.


I think it's much more likely that tomatoes were started outdoors in "hot beds" rather than indoors over the last few hundred years. The tomatoes which have "cold" sounding names do bear much earlier for me (glacier, cosmonaut, and so on).
 
Jonathan Krohn
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Cj Verde wrote:I think it's much more likely that tomatoes were started outdoors in "hot beds" rather than indoors over the last few hundred years. The tomatoes which have "cold" sounding names do bear much earlier for me (glacier, cosmonaut, and so on).


Now that you mention it, that does sound kind of familiar. I guess we'll have to add hot beds to the list of things to try next year....
 
D. Logan
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Cj Verde wrote:
Jonathan Krohn wrote:I suspect that people have started tomatoes indoors for quite some time, rather than relying on self-seeding. Therefore, even our heirlooms were probably bred to germinate well indoors, not outdoors. As a result, it may take some selective breeding to get a good feral tomato (!). It appears that Moskviches might have a good head start, however.


I think it's much more likely that tomatoes were started outdoors in "hot beds" rather than indoors over the last few hundred years. The tomatoes which have "cold" sounding names do bear much earlier for me (glacier, cosmonaut, and so on).


My own research into colonial methods was that they would take punky wood (dry rotted wood) and crumble it fine. This would be put into wooden trays and kept moist to germinate tomato seeds indoors on window sills or where they would get good light.

Man I wish I could have been involved in this one. Too bad Texas was already well into tomato growing season by the time the testing started.
 
Cj Sloane
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I thought glass was too expensive in colonial times for that.
 
D. Logan
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Widows didn't have to have glass. Open air with shutters to keep ill weather out and any number of materials have historically been used to serve as a window when people wanted a surface to keep the outside out and still let light in. Even greased paper can be used to create a surface that allows light to penetrate without letting in insects or putting funds towards expensive glass. They didn't start in the dead of winter, but they would start when frosts might still hit, so opening the windows during the day and shuttering them at night isn't unreasonable as long as the temperature isn't too low in the daytime.
 
Cj Sloane
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That's interesting.

I can't remember where I first heard about hot beds but I know it was common in colonials times and of course in Europe.

Piled up 30 inches deep inside a brick-lined pit, the decomposing dung will generate enough heat to raise temperatures within the closed frame to 130 to 135 degrees. After being covered with 4 or 5 inches of fresh soil, it will still generate a 70-degree temperature for more than two weeks, providing an ideal medium for seeds to sprout.

In the following 2 or 3 weeks, the seedlings will thrive in the constant warmth of 50 to 60 degrees.

"By then, the frame stays warm enough by itself," McKelvey says.

The gardeners will sow their first summer crops in another hot bed beginning in March. Cantaloupes, mush melons, cucumbers and even tomatoes will get their start there, then be transplanted into the ground after the soil grows warmer in late April.

"You don't have to wait for these warm-weather crops," McKelvey says. "You can start them much earlier with a hot bed."

http://articles.dailypress.com/2011-01-14/features/dp-fea-cp-wintergarden-20110114_1_cold-frames-garden-straw

Two issues which don't really apply to the home gardener.

1. The plants were then transplanted so it wouldn't be OK for the test of this thread unless you didn't transplant them, which is possible.
2. I guess it's illegal to do this for veggies you are selling!!! The source of heat is horse manure which has not finished decomposing. Our colonial ancestors should be turning in their graves over our crazy over-regulated country.
 
Peter Ellis
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Cj Verde wrote:


Two issues which don't really apply to the home gardener.

1. The plants were then transplanted so it wouldn't be OK for the test of this thread unless you didn't transplant them, which is possible.
2. I guess it's illegal to do this for veggies you are selling!!! The source of heat is horse manure which has not finished decomposing. Our colonial ancestors should be turning in their graves over our crazy over-regulated country.


I suppose you could go for hot compost without the manure and get pretty much the same results. But I do have to wonder sometimes about our regulatory system.
 
David Livingston
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Hot beds were used to grow pineapples in the UK so tomatos should be easy

David
 
Jonathan Krohn
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Cj Verde wrote:2. I guess it's illegal to do this for veggies you are selling!!! The source of heat is horse manure which has not finished decomposing. Our colonial ancestors should be turning in their graves over our crazy over-regulated country.


It's only illegal if it's "intended" for human consumption....
 
Jonathan Krohn
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Paul - isn't this contest supposed to be finalized and a winner picked sometime around now?
 
Chris French
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I just wanted to drop my placeholder in here until I can take more videos this is the first I heard about this contest but I would have totally takin more photos because I had this exact same thing happen at our place.

I had 8 transplants and than I had a huge bush of different volunteers pop up from where last years were planted. This attached photo is entirely from the volenteers


I live in Utah, where we can't start them until after mothers day.



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Deb Rebel
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D. Logan wrote:
Lexie Huber wrote:I have always used transplants from the store, but this year I am trying from seed (and failing). I am on my 3rd attempt with seedlings. They sprout beautifully and grow about 2 inches, and have 2 leaves. After that they stall, then turn yellow and fall over to die a sad death. Any thoughts? I really want to use the heirlooms.


This might be dampening off. I've seen a number of plants that were in the early seedling stage with too much water around the roots suffer the yellowing effect you describe. Another might be a deficiency in the growing medium, which I have also seen be the cause of yellowing leaves in young plants.


Late to the party but have a comment that might be relevant. I have used a purchased commercial soilless mix for starting for the last several years, and this year was the first year I fought damping off, and I didn't get ANYTHING I started with that mix. I visited civilization (a city over 10k population) in June and talked to a person at one of the major nurseries. They get all their roses in dormant bare root, then pot them up and bring them into leaf to sell them. They lost over 3/4 of them, and the last quarter were sickly. They traced it to a large lot of that mix. I had some of the same batch. They had used it for several years and this was the first year the stuff had a problem.

I got my compost pile going and 2015 I'm going with 'mymix' instead. Could be the reason you had issues with starting. In 48 years of gardening, 2014 was the first year I had issues with damping off! I save seed, bag blooms and hand pollenate for my own crosses, and usually start and transplant, uppotting a few times before I plant in ground; with tomatoes...
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 406
Location: Georgia
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For the last 3 years I have tried to start tomatoes directly in the garden
under cloches. I have not gotten a thing. I want it to work for me but
so far nothing.

I do get volunteers like the Matt's Wild pictured here.

The other picture is from some of the heirloom tomatoes I started from
seed in the garage with lights and a heat pad and then put them in the
garden.
IMG_0892.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0892.JPG]
heirloom tomatoes
IMG_1106.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1106.JPG]
Matt's Wild volunteer tomato
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
Posts: 203
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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I didn't participate in the experiment at all because I'd decided not to grow any tomatoes this year. Then I found some volunteers growing near my pea trellis so I decided to let them grow. Here's a picture:
 
Rob Read
Posts: 88
Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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This is not technically an entry, but something related I wanted to share.

One of our volunteer tomatoes ended up winning first prize in a local (very conventional) fall fair. Our kids were entering stuff in a bunch of categories, and my wife Julie looked around to see if there were any other categories we could enter, and grabbed a few tiny and very pretty tomatoes from a descendant of the type Matt's Wild Cherry.

With no fertilizing, weeding, or watering (except for some incidental watering when I planted other tomatoes nearby) and only mulch from last year, I credit this win entirely to nature. The beds are sort of minor hugelkulturs (made with just a few branches several years ago).
 
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