The Q&A Archives: Starting Tomato Seedlings

Question: I am growing tomato seedlings under grow lights indoors for the first time this year. I started them on February 28th. They were growing well until they began developing brown tipped leaves. I started them in 4 inch plastic pots that had been sterilized. After they developed their first set of two leaves (not the cotyledons) I transplanted them to individual 2 1/4 inch peat pots. Now is when the problem began. Several weeks after they had settled into their new pots I fertilized with half strength fish and kelp emulsion. I have always bottom watered. They are 3 inches below two 40 watt grow lights. They have two full branches and very long stems (6-7 inches). I have just transplanted them again up to 6 inch pots and am still losing leaves. What is wronghere? The room temp is at 68-70 during the day and around 60-65 at night. The seeds are Brandywine Tomatoes from Territorial Seed Company. They seem healthy otherwise but the brown tips eventually lead to complete leaf loss of the effected leaf.

Answer: Could be time to give them natural sunlight. Also check your water quality and/or pot/soil drainage. Bottom watering, by the way, is an easy way to accumulate mineral deposits from hard water (a typical symptom of which is brown-tipped leaves). Check, too, the solution you used to sterilize the pots and the method of rinsing.

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