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Monday, April 19, 2010

Tomato Massacre Spring....are we on round 3 ? ? ?

I can't begin to tell how irritated I am at myself for allowing this to happen, not once but twice already this season.  It is enough to make me cry, that I have killed yet another batch of tomatoes.  I know it happens to the best of us, I know we all have our "off" years...but the frustration of the waste of time, money and materials just gets so dejecting!
But as I always say, you pretty much learn nothing when you don't make mistakes.  And I am a big fan of picking things apart, so here we go....what went wrong?

Ok so the first batch that I started from seed died from a number of factors, as I have explained in a previous post.

  1. Didn't sanitize pots
  2. Used potting soil, instead of soil less mix
  3. overwatered (seeds rotted, not one sprout out of a dozen and a half seeds)
That is newbie stuff, I wrote it off and bought transplants, and started Roma seeds from my dehydrated tomato from last year.  We'll see what happens with my seeding (AGAIN) later.....we'll see, we'll see.
But what about those transplants?  HMMMM????  I was so excited to try new varieties of heirlooms, and what did I do???  I am not sure.  I am thinking that there are so many variables to this one it is hard for me to narrow it down.  Either way I am sure it was my fault!  The thing I should have done, first and foremost, that I can never do is just leave well enough alone!!!!  But here is how I think I massacred a perfectly decent batch of transplants that some nursery people spent 8-10 weeks nurturing, in less than two weeks!

  1. I put them in the prop box while it was much too warm.  even vented it was an oven.
  2. I potted up the transplants into larger containers, WITH PEAT MOSS. (that would be for seed starting) When likely, the only plants it was imperative to pot up would have been the ones in the 4 cell packs that looked like crap to begin with.
  3. I bought plants that looked like crap to begin with. (Juliet tomato)  And kept them with the others.
  4. When I potted up the transplants I buried them deeper than in their original pots.  this is fine in the ground...I do it every year....it makes the tomato sturdier with a much denser, deeper root system....but apparently you can't do that in their pots...
  5. I gave them fertilizer...I don't know if that also shocked them.
  6. I moved them into the house during a 2 day cold spell, then back outside.  I took them in and out of the prop box, as weather changed.
I could probably think up a few more things I did to contribute to their sickliness....I just can't think of how many more ways I could have screwed this up that I didn't do already.  There are signs of fungus establishing on the surface of the peat.  The plants that actually have died show signs of damping off, just as the seedlings would.  That is a combination of the peat's moisture retention and perhaps over watering.  Plain peat is just as bad as plain soil I suppose...not a lot of room for air transfer...I have smothered them.  A few others show signs of burn, like in the peppers.  The Juliet's were just in steady decline to begin with.  There is no end to my frustration.  All I can do is get the bed in, plant and cover, and PRAY.....and perhaps start some late seeds, as a back up....be careful in planting, if the survivors are permanently stunted and become bug magnets....GEESH....what a waste of 30 bucks!

Anyways, I had to share tomato story as a reminder to myself, a lesson to be learned or maybe just plain out common sense, or the lack there of, that caused this....I have to be humbled by my inexperience, grit my teeth and sink my shovel back in the dirt....and keep on truckin'!!

Take care, and may your tomatoes stay lush, green and healthy...and not keel over as mine have.....Oh, and could you spare a cutting??? LOL

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