I want to cover a few problems with tomato seed starting. It’s quite possible you’ll see these as they’re fairly common.
What I want to do is show you how to avoid these and what to do if you do get them.
- Is caused by overwatering. Period. So when you see the green covering on your seeds, you know what the problem is.
- If you increase the ventilation, this will reduce some of the problem because you’re drying out the soil surface.
- It doesn’t “solve” an existing problem (nothing will on the home scale I know of) so you’re stuck with fixing it mechanically but bringing soil moisture levels to the right amounts.
Small Tiny Black Flies
- Are usually right behind algae as that’s a primary food source. The larva eat plant roots so we do want to control them. You can drench the soil with insecticidal soap mix at the rate used for spraying. It doesn’t seem to hurt tomato roots and definitely kills the larva.
- The soap spray will also kill adults if you spray them.
- Adults also go to yellow sticky traps so these can work. The difficulty of course is that you can get equally caught by the darn things.
- Watch your watering.
Plants Keeling Over
- It’s called ‘damping off” and is mostly a problem of overwatering, cold temperatures and poor ventilation. Either singly or in combination.
- Again, a fan that’s allowed to blow 24/7 won’t cure the problem but it will help prevent it. Get the other things right or the problem will continue.
- Crush a clove of garlic, simmer in 2 cups of water (again, it’s not rocket science – a bit more or a bit less of either and you’re fine) for 10-15 minutes (some recipes call for longer – some shorter – all you’re trying to do is get as much of the oil out of the garlic into the water as possible)
- Some recipes call for straining the garlic. I run it through a kitchen sieve to take out the big chunks.
- Let the water cool so it’s baby-bottle, wrist-comfortable warm.
- Some recipes call for spraying the base of the plants. Unless you get every last teeny bit of garlic, this is a recipe for clogging up a sprayer. I simply pour this strained mix over the seedlings.
Tall spindly seedlings.
- nitrogen deficiency,
- nitrogen excess,
- too cold,
- too warm,
- not enough light.
Just about anything out of line will produce a thin plant. Luckily, we have options to repair this in following sections.
Purple tinged leaves, Curled Down Leaves
This is a phosphorus deficiency
Dwarf Growth, Thin Stem, Leaves Pale Green, Some Purpling on Leaves and Older Leaves Turning Yellow