Why Won’t My Tomatoes Grow?
The last two years I have tried to start my garden plants from seed—some saved and some purchased.
The germination rate is very high, between 68 percent and 97 percent, depending upon the plant variety. But my tomato plants get to 2 or 3 inches and stop growing they remain green but do not grow beyond this point even though they are several months old. The same is true for the peppers, lettuce, and broccoli. I can plant the same seed out doors and get far better results especially with the lettuce and tomatoes.
What am I doing wrong or how can I improve my seed starting?
John from Georgia
There are so many variables that I’m not privy to so I don’t really know how to advise you. First of all, tomatoes require warm soil and lots of light. Living in Georgia, you should have the heat requirement taken care of!
If you’re starting them indoors and setting them in front of a window, you may think you’re getting plenty of light for them, but…
If you have newer insulated, thermo-pane windows which stops a lot of the sun’s UV rays from entering your house, you may not have enough sunlight for your plants to develop. You may need to start toting them outside so they can get direct sunlight. Tomatoes require at least 7 hours of direct sunlight (which may be why those you plant out of doors are doing so much better).
It’s also easy for plants to get root bound and crowded. You say they stay one size for several months. Are you repotting them and giving them enough room to grow? Close conditions inhibit their growth, so transplant them into a bigger pot (a 4 inch pot is ideal) once they get their first true leaves. Remember, tomatoes are greedy feeders
How are you fertilizing them? What nutrients are you providing your tomatoes? They require a balanced fertilizer, such as Protogrow™, an all-natural liquid fertilizer. Another natural fix is Epsom salts. The magnesium and sulfate in Epsom salts in greatly beneficial to vegetables and herbs, from germination to fruit set (with the exception of sage), and watering with a mixture of one tablespoon of Epsom salt to one gallon of water may also help. However, just because a little Epsom salt is good doesn’t mean that more is better. Too much magnesium can prevent calcium uptake in the plant, and then when your tomatoes do set, you’ll wind up with blossom end rot for lack of calcium. Just remember, all things in moderation!
Without more information, these are just the general suggestions I can come up with off the top of my head. You may want to take advantage of any information your county extension office can provide as well.
Thanks for writing!
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