What to do about leggy tomato seedlings?

What to do about leggy tomato seedlingsYou’ve planted tomato seeds of your own this season. They have sprouted perfectly, but you’re now noticing that they are growing very tall and thin! So, what should you do about it?

Seedlings that start out very leggy often tend to be weaker, more prone to disease and produce less when they mature. And that’s not the kind of plants we want.

At the same time tomato plants are easy to grow from seeds on your own. Especially if you have kids, planting seeds and watching how the little seedlings grow can be a very fun activity to do together. And not to mention the delight of harvesting time!

Growing your own is well worth it, so don’t worry if the plants are not picture perfect.

The reasons why your tomato seedlings got so thin and leggy

  • Planting too early in the season. Tomato seedlings are one of the first you need to get started in the season. But don’t start too early either. I start mine mid to end February.
  • Too little light. If the plants have to less light, they will stretch extra tall to get as much of it as possible. I think this is the main reason mine are growing long.
  • Too much fertilizer. If the seedlings get to much food, they will grow like crazy! I prefer to follow the permaculture principles with my plants, so they don’t get any fertilizer.

Fixing leggy seedlings

Mature tomato plantSometimes just adjusting what’s causing the problem, is enough. Are you fertilizing too much? Then stop doing that. Are the plants standing in a too dark spot? Move them to the sunniest location available. When seedlings get the right conditions they most often do just fine on their own, without you having to do anything.

But sometimes the seedlings have just grown too tall and leggy to be okay on their own. To save the plants all you have to do is to repot them! Wait for the plants to mature a little bit before repotting. They need to have at least one set of true leafs. Then just get a bigger pot and fill it up with good compost, replant the seedling very deep so most of the leggy stem is underneath the surface of the earth. The tomato plant will grow roots along the stem that is in the compost and you now have a stronger and healthier plant.

Just make sure you give it the best conditions, plenty of water and light, and harden it of gradually before you plant it in its final destination for the summer. Then you should have a plant that will produce juicy tomatoes for you all summer long!

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