The Q&A Archives: Hothouse Tomato Starts

Question: I recently had a failure (complete) with some COBRA hothouse seed starts. There was no overt evidence of damping because none of the seeds started and I used clean, high quality starter soil. The starts were attempted in a greenhouse atmosphere and were kept moist at all times. I'm about to try again. Any suggestions?

Answer: Since I don't know exactly what procedures you followed it's a bit difficult to offer advice. However, tomatoes germinate best at warm soil temperatures and in a mix that is evenly moist but not at all soggy. Is it possible they were kept overly wet and rotted? You might try placing some seeds between moist paper towels, and keeping them in a loosely-closed plastic bag in a warm, dark place. Check the seeds frequently, and see how many germinate. You should be able to get an idea of whether the problem lies in the seeds, or in your method or materials. You can also get an idea of the percentage of germination, so you can determine how thickly to sow the seeds. I hope this batch germinates for you.

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