Week 2 True Leaves on Roma Tomato Plants

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Did you check several times to see if your Roma Tomato Plants were sprouting?  I walk by my seed starter trays to make sure there is water in the tray and to see if I have any sprouts.

Germination is the process that the seed does before it sprouts.  The seed absorbs water, it depends on the hardness of the seed shell as to how much water it needs.  The water will soften the shell, allowing the root to emerge.  There is so much that is going on inside the seed, and this is why it’s important to make sure that the soil never gets dry.  As the metabolism of the new plant is activated, the tissues absorb water, and the plant begins to grow.  First the root tip, then the stem and finally the leaves. Not much is going on outside the shell of the seed yet, but then it sprouts!

On Day 4, there was the first sprout!

It’s very important for the soil to be loose and not compacted.  This is why a seed starter soil is important. The sprout builds it’s strength and pushes through the soil reaching for the light. The soil will break down providing food for the new sprout.

If you are starting in the late summer for a fall harvest, the soil will be warm enough.  When you are starting your seeds indoors (if you are starting in late winter for early summer harvest) it is important to keep the soil warm.  To keep the soil warm, you can use warming mats.  I have found waterbed heaters at garage sales and these are longer and work great.  You don’t want to place the aluminum tray directly on the heater, you can use small bricks at each end of the heater and place the tray on the bricks.  Placing plastic wrap over the tray will create humidity and keep the soil warm.

On Day 5, the sprouts shed the hard little shell of the tomato seed and the first leaves appeared.

By Day 7, the next set of leaves, the True Leaves started growing.  As the stem grows, the true leaves will continue to grow and more leaves will come out.  The first leaves will be lower on the stem and when we transplant the tomato plants, we will pinch off the first leaves from the stem.

Once the true leaves appear, less moisture is needed.  You will want to make sure the soil is damp, not as moist as before when you kept the water in the tray.  Do not allow the soil to completely dry and you will still add the water to the tray so the soil will wick and water through the roots and not the top.  A sign of too much water are fungus gnats flying around the trays and plants.  If you do not address this your new little plants will die from a fungal attack at the base of the stem.

It is also important for the leaves to receive strong light to create photosynthesis to provide energy for themselves.  If it is too cold to have the seedlings outside in the sunshine, then you can put the trays on shelves with grow lights.

These shelves are from a hardware store and can be assembled easily.  Then with chain and hooks, a florescent light fixture can be hung under each shelf.  The bulbs are a special ‘Grow’ bulb that can be purchased where regular florescent bulbs are. We got ours from Lowe’s.

If it is cold (for winter planting) wrap a 6 mil clear plastic around the shelves.  Make sure you can open the plastic to water and tend to the plants.  The plastic will keep in the heat from the lights and provide some humidity.

If your plants don’t receive enough light, they will become ‘leggy’ and pale.  You can not have too much light…but with light it will dry out the soil.  You will want to always want to check the soil to make sure it’s moist, but not wet or too dry.

To prepare for next week, you will need a seaweed/fish emulsion.  We will be feeding our little Roma Tomato plants.  You can purchase at any nursery….the Backyard Genie uses:

Welcome to our new little Roma Tomato Plants,
The Backyard Genie