The Q&A Archives: Growing Tomatoes From Seed

Question: when growing tomatoes from seeds the plants always come out long and stringy--never with a strong stem like you would buy at a garden center--what am i doing wrong?

Answer: To grow sturdy transplants at home usually requires either a greenhouse or supplemental light (such as fluorescent lights kept just an inch or two above the plants) as well as a good schedule; if you start them too soon they will be leggy and weak before it is time to set them out in the garden. You also need to provide them with adequate fertility while being careful not to overfertilize them which results in overly lush and leggy growth. There is one more thing, in my experience, which can help and that is to brush them lightly with your hand several times a day. This seems to simulate the wind and other stresses they would encounter outdoors and encourage sturdy stems. Finally, some varieties simply look different from others and so there will be some variation depending on what kind of tomato you are growing. I hope this helps you troubleshoot.

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