Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tomato Seedling Support

The 2013 tomato seedlings started on 12-27-12 are doing fine. It is about this time during their growth I have to support the plants with a stick because they are so tall and weak they will fall over. A cheap and convenient way to do this by using 12 inch Bamboo Skewers from the supermarket and Twist Ties that generally come inside boxes of smaller plastic bags.

For the last few years I still find using SOLO 16oz Cups the best way for me to start seeds in. They hold a good amount of soil (2 cups) so the roots have plenty of room to grow, holds water/moisture more evenly between watering and they can be re-used for years. Also when transplanting the 2 cups of soil keeps the roots comfortable in their own soil until the roots begin to grow out into the garden soil.

I grow and transplant two seedling per plant site just incase one dies from shock of transplanting. If one doesn’t die after a few weeks I will cut off the weaker plant.
Here you can see the two plants tied to the bamboo sticks, the package of skewers and twist ties.

In this photo you can see I wrap one end of the twist tie around the bamboo stick about three (3) times then loop the other end around but leaving lots of room for the plant stem, then back to the bamboo stick making a loop. It works great and easy to adjust.

Over the years and learning from trial and error that watering seedlings it can be difficult to judge how moist or how dry the soil is below the surface. I’ve found that by taking a knife and cutting a slit about 1 inch long and about 1 inch from and parallel to the bottom of the cup controls the water amount. It is just a slit, not a slot, just stick the knife in and pull it out. This is all that’s needed to let the excess water dribble out but leave the bottom 1 inch holding water to be wicked up into the upper soil as needed. If you over water it just drains out of the slit and not drowns the plant.

The kitchen garden window with the seedlings and this year I’m starting seeds for:

Tomatoes, Better Boy, large slicing type, 2 plants
Cherry Tomatoes, Super Sweet 100, for salads, 2 plants
SuperSauce Hybrid by Burpee, for sauces only, very large @ 5½ inches in diameter, 2 plants.
Green Bell Peppers, California Wonder, 2 plants.
Sweet Corn “On Deck Hybrid” by Burpee, 9 plants. These are small plants 4-5 ft high producing 2-3 ears developed for container gardening but I have a small spot for them in the ground.


  1. Great step by step! When you put the tomato seedlings into larger containers, what is your soil mix? Is bagged potting soil OK? I've got to start sometime and you've inspired me to at least get tomatoes going.

  2. Thanks LyndaKay,
    The SOLO Cups is where the seeds are started and grown for 6-8 weeks then transplanted into the garden dirt.
    I have in the past planted the seedlings into 5 gallon buckets and the soil mix that I make from roughly a 50/50 mix of Black Kow and Vermiculite.
    Scott's has a ‘seed starting mix’ which is pretty good but their ‘potting soil mix’ is bad and I no longer use it. It’s mostly made from wood chips where they grind stumps and parts of trees that nothing can be made from.

  3. Mike,

    Great looking seedlings! It's too cold over here to get mine going.

    I like the idea of using skewers and twist ties. You can pick them up at any grocery store. Very convenient!

  4. Sandy,
    I'd guess you have at least one more ice storm before you could plant anything outside. My sister live near Newkirk and it was always a guessing game for her when to plant seedlings.


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