Proper cultivation of tomato seedlings
The favorite culture of gardeners is tomatoes. In the southern regions, a vegetable crop can be obtained from seeds in open ground, but in the middle lane and northern regions of Russia, crops can only be obtained through growing seedlings. In order to grow tomato seedlings, it is necessary to carry out a number of preparatory work, which must be started about 3-5 weeks before sowing.
Young tomato seedlings need special soil mixtures, light in composition, water- and breathable, moisture-resistant, with a high level of nutrient content. Such soil mixtures can be bought in a store, but, as a rule, they need to improve quality indicators. Therefore, it is more practical to independently prepare a universal soil mixture for tomato seedlings from pre-prepared ingredients. The simplest mixture includes 4 main ingredients:
- leaf or turf land (1 part);
- mature humus or vermicompost (2 parts);
- high peat (1 part);
- sand (1 part).
In the disinfected soil per 10 kg of the mixture, add 70-100 g of phosphorus-potassium fertilizers and a glass of wood ash. Mix everything thoroughly.
Disinfection of soil mix for tomato seedlings
Mixture disinfection is necessary to remove pathogenic fungi and viruses that can cause rot of the young root system of seedlings and death of seedlings. Disinfection is carried out in several ways. In the north, where it is freezing in winter, it is more advisable to freeze the soil, in the southern regions, hot disinfection is more effective (steaming or calcining the mixture).
Regardless of the region, successful disinfection of the soil mixture is carried out by dressing using potassium permanganate (3 g / 1 l of water) or antifungal biological products. The dried soil mixture is treated with biofungicides trichodermin, phytosporin in a tank mixture with bioinsecticides phytoverm, actophyte and others.
After completing all the work, the Emochki-Bokashi dry preparation is introduced into the soil mixture and the prepared soil mixture is slightly moistened. In a warm, humid environment, beneficial microorganisms multiply rapidly and simultaneously completely destroy the negative microflora.
Read more about preparing soil mix for seedlings in the article: How to prepare soil for seedlings?
Presowing preparation of seed material
As a rule, tomato seeds purchased from producers do not need presowing preparation. Self-received seeds must be calibrated and disinfected. These works are carried out 2 weeks before sowing.
Tomato seed calibration
When collecting seeds on their own, together with high-quality material, light and inactive seeds are mixed. They are separated with brine. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water, pour out the seeds and stir the solution with a spoon.
Heavy quality seeds sink to the bottom of the glass, and the lungs float to the surface of the solution. They are removed, the solution is drained through a strainer, and the seeds are thoroughly washed in running water.
Self-collected seeds are always infected with various fungal and viral diseases. There are several ways to eradicate an infection.
The most affordable is the treatment with a solution of potassium permanganate: 1 g of the substance is dissolved in 100 g of water and the seeds wrapped in gauze are lowered for 15-20 minutes. Increasing the time of disinfection is impractical - the drug negatively affects the germination of seeds. After disinfection with potassium permanganate, the seeds are thoroughly washed in running water and dried, sprinkled on a napkin.
It is more effective to etch the seeds in a solution of phytosporin-M, gamair-SP or alirina-B. In a solution of one of the preparations prepared according to the recommendation, the seeds are soaked for 1-2 hours. Then they are laid out on a napkin and dried to flow.
Dates of sowing tomato seeds for seedlings
The timing of sowing seeds for seedlings depends on the biological characteristics of the culture, light and temperature conditions of the region.
Early varieties and hybrids of tomatoes in the southern regions are sown in the period from February 25-27 to March 5 and at the age of 52-56 days are planted in open ground or under temporary film shelter in order to preserve plantings from returning short-term spring frosts.
Medium varieties and hybrids are usually sown after seedlings early or from March 1 to 20. Planted in open ground at the age of 60-65 days.
The latter are sown simultaneously with the middle or in the period from March 20 to April 15. Seedlings age is 70-80 days.
In the south, often late tomatoes are sown immediately in open ground.
Middle and North Region
The timing of planting tomatoes for seedlings in the middle and northern strip of Russia depends on the light and temperature conditions. If seeds are sown earlier in a warm greenhouse, they will have to be lightened. Landing in an unheated or in a greenhouse - there will be problems with the temperature of the air and soil.
Early sowing will not contribute to obtaining healthy seedlings, it will be weakened, elongated, slightly hardened and more expensive at the cost of heating, lighting and other work.
Therefore, for central Russia with coverage of the Urals and Siberia, seeds of early varieties and hybrids are sown in the period from March 15 to 20, and over early ripening hybrids - from April 1 to 5.
Medium varieties and hybrids are sown from March 20 to April 10 and are planted in open ground or under the film at 60-65 days of age.
Late tomatoes in these conditions are impractical to grow, due to the short warm period. Typically, late tomato varieties are grown in heated and adapted greenhouses with irradiation.
Before sowing, prepare containers for sowing seeds. The containers can be low strawberry boxes, plastic pallets with high sides, finished cassettes, plastic cups of different sizes, special or independently prepared peat or peat pots.
We cover the low boxes with a film, cover a layer of prepared soil mix, moisten it. Divide the box area into squares 2 ... 5 cm with a ruler. At the corners of the squares, we make indentations or holes 1.0-1.5 cm deep with a thin pencil and lay out 2 dry seeds. We close the box with a film to create greenhouse conditions with an air temperature of + 24 ... + 25 ºС and place it in a warm place.
If seedlings are sown in pots and glasses, then be sure to make a hole in the bottom to drain excess water. We fill the capacity with soil mixture at 2/3 of the height of the cup or pot. On the surface of the soil places 1-2 seeds, sprinkle with soil so that 1.0-1.5 cm from the height of the cup remained free. The soil is slightly compacted and moistened through a spray bottle. Before the emergence of seedlings, we sow the seeds daily from the spray gun, raise the film for ventilation.
Shoots appear on day 4-6. We remove the film and place the box with seedlings on a light windowsill to provide optimal lighting. If necessary, apply additional illumination. The first 3-4 days, seedlings are sprayed from the spray gun. We begin watering with a week-old seedling. We spend 1 time in 5-7 days with de-chlorinated water, heated to + 20 ... + 25 ºС. This technique will protect the seedlings from rot (black leg).
Before watering begins, we maintain the air temperature in the room at + 13 ... + 16 ºС during the day, and lower it to + 11 ... + 13 ºС at night.
With the beginning of watering in sunny weather, we raise the daily temperature to + 20 ... + 25 ºС, and in cloudy weather to + 18 ... + 20 ºС. The night temperature with the beginning of watering is maintained at + 17 ... + 19 ºС.
Dive and land
At 3 weeks of age (calculation from the day of germination, not sowing), 2 real leaves were formed in seedlings. By this time, we are preparing a container for picking, that is, for planting seedlings in a container of a larger area. The pick can be partially performed. Remove plants from the middle 3 rows from the box. There will be 6x6 (8x8, 10x10) cm squares.
You can read more about picking in the material: Pickling seedlings: nuances, tips, process features
Preparation of boxes and other containers for placement of picked seedlings is the same as for sowing seeds. The temperature of the soil in the boxes for picking material should be + 14 ... + 15 ºС, and the air + 20 ... + 23 ºС with a decrease at night to + 14 ... + 18 ºС. Dive can be carried out in prepared plastic or peat-humus pots, combining them in one box or other dishes.
Leaving as when diving into boxes. Before transplanting, the seedlings should have 25-35 cm in height, 5-7 formed real leaves, a stem with a diameter of 6-8 mm, 1-2 formed inflorescences with buds.
Topping up tomato seedlings
Feeding dive seedlings is carried out as necessary. If the plants of the seedlings are dark green, the stalk is thick, steady - additional nutrition is not necessary. When changing the color of the leaves (light green color, purple hue), stretching seedlings - it is necessary to reduce watering and air temperature, dry the soil with dry sand. A box with seedlings can be taken out into the corridor, fed with a fertilizer solution, mulched with dry sand.
It is better to carry out foliar top dressing by spraying the plants with a working solution of chicken manure or a complete mineral fertilizer with trace elements. To spray the plants, a solution of a complete mineral fertilizer is prepared at the rate of 1 teaspoon per 5 l of warm water. You can spray the plants with a solution of mullein or bird droppings. Dissolve 1.5 tablespoons of organics in 5 liters of warm water, strain and sprinkle the plants.
Hardening tomato seedlings
For 1.5-2 weeks, seedlings are prepared for more severe living conditions in the open ground or under the film. Hardening begins with the placement of seedlings in rooms with a gradual decrease in temperature to + 6 ... + 12 ºС and longer sunlight. 2-3 days before transplanting to a constant, seedlings are sprayed with a solution of copper sulfate with the addition of biological products from late blight and other fungal diseases. You can dilute 1 tablet of Trichopolum in 1 liter of water and treat the plants.
Note to the gardener
To obtain full seedlings, you always need to sow zoned varieties. They are most adapted to the conditions of the terrain for which they were created.
Be careful! When purchasing seeds, be sure to read the recommendations on the packaging. They will help you choose the desired and most suitable variety or hybrid of tomato for you.
- Region of cultivation.
- Permanent cultivation method (open ground, greenhouse, other shelters).
- Seeding date for seedlings.
- Estimated date of disembarkation.
- Type of bush growth (superdeterminant, indeterminate, determinant, ordinary bush). These data are necessary for calculating planting density.
- Ripening period (early, middle, late, transitional by maturity).
- The purpose of the crop (fresh use, for canning).
Read more about how to pick up tomato seeds in the article: Which tomato seeds to choose?
If such data are not available, refer to the official characteristics of cultivars and hybrids of culture (in the reference literature).
When buying finished seedlings on the market, pay attention to the external signs of plants. Vendors sometimes trick and sell raznosortitsa instead of zoned varieties.
Distinctive features of the southern and northern varieties of tomato seedlings
Southern varieties are very leafy with powerful foliage. (Sun protection). Development processes proceed more slowly, which contributes to the development of resistance to aggressive external conditions.
Northern varieties are distinguished by finer foliage. Rugged leaf blades provide better illumination to the fruit. The exchange processes proceed at an accelerated pace in order to form a crop and its ripening in a short warm period. In the conditions of hot summer, plants of northern varieties quickly age and do not form full-fledged crops.