Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Experiment in bypassing damp off

Most of my original tomatoes that I started by seed fell victim to damp off.

Aggravating, but many horticulturists suggest not starting tomatoes too early anyways as frost or disease from cold/damp that can occur early from early planting of tomato crop.  Luckily I had some seed leftover and so I've begun again, this time with the luxury of reasonably warm and sunshine-y outdoor weather.  A later home-started harvest, but with luck there will still be a crop!

A very kind friend of mine purchased a good size Bonnie's indeterminate heirloom tomato for me in addition to a smaller hybrid indeterminate (that had 2 plants in it!) so that I wouldn't be without the deliciousness early this year.  Oh us vegetable gardeners and our tomatoes!

But back to damp-off crud:

After I started pulling out the totally damped off seedlings from their small egg carton "pots," I wondered to myself  about the famously well known stem-rooting properties that tomatoes possess and thought that  I might still yet be able to save some.  So I kept one Tropic tomato seedling with a pinched damped off stem and popped it in a small bath of water I was growing a grocery store fennel bulb in, making sure that the damped off stem base was under the water line.   .

Here is the result after a week or so:

(at this point I had discarded the damped off portion that existed below the newly rooted part you can see now)

Now that I have potentially found a way to save damped off seedlings I am slightly smacking myself at not having done with more of the sad looking plants I chucked. 

So, just wanted to share if any of you run into damp off issues.  (There is hope!)


Anonymous said...

I have tried seeds two years in a row and am figuring out its not my strong suit. This year I tried tomato and cucumber. They are all shriveling up and dying, despite the grow light and water. Will probably break down and buy plants. However, the lettuce and carrots that I sowed directly seem to be doing ok.

persephone said...

Melissa, what sort of environment do you give your tomatoes and cucumbers when you start them? For cucumbers I typically just direct seed outside. You can do it now or a little later when it's warmer and they'll take off WONDERFULLY eventually. Cucumbers are typically work free I've found when direct seeded and can be wonderfully aggressive after they start vining out (hope you like pickles!)

This is the first time I've had the damp off issues for the tomatoes and I did have to break down and buy some plants (buck apiece at some local mom and pops!) I am still attempting to start seeds and maybe get a late fall crop at least of some more interesting varieties which I hope I can save seeds from and be able to make a more successful go next year!

Anonymous said...

I started them in the basement under a grow light. I will definitely direct seed the cucumber next time. I moved them all outside today and I have cucumber left and a ton of tomato seedlings. I think i will leave the seed starting to the farmers next year :(