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Tomato seedlings growing VERY slowly! Help needed badly!

7 years ago

This happens to me every year and it's
driving me nuts! I started my tomatoes (a mix of regular
indeterminate and dwarfs) on January 15. It is now 2 months later,
and the seedlings have done very poorly. They're only 3 to 4 inches
tall each (except the dwarfs, which are about 1-2 inches). Each has
2, maybe 3 sets of leaves. Some still have only their first true

For most, the leaves are unhealthy
looking. They're tiny, yellowish, with purple veins throughout. New
growth looks worse than the old. It can take the plants one whole
week to grow even a single new leaf. This seems very wrong to me!

Here's a list of how I did things so
maybe you can help:

1. Sowed seeds 3 to a small pot in
Miracle Grow Potting Mix. (Have tried other mixes in the past w/same
problem). Seeds took 5-10 days to sprout.

2. Put germinated seeds under brand new
4-foot T8 lights indoors immediately. Lights stay on for 14 hours a
day at least. Turned off overnight. Lights held 1-2 inches above
seedlings, moved up as necessary. Temperature kept at 75 or above.

3. Watered only when soil felt dry,
every few days as these were tiny pots. Top watered at first, later
switched to bottom water. Plants never wilted despite letting soil
dry out.

4. Seedlings grew first true leaves
within a week or so. After this, they seemed to sit there barely
growing. Plants about 2 inches tall after one month.

5. When plants had 2 sets of leaves, I
transplanted each one into its own 32 oz clean yogurt container with
fresh Miracle Grow Potting Mix. Planted deep, up to the bottom of
first true leaves. I may have torn some roots when separating plants,
possibly stunting them?

6. They went back under lights. From
here, they very slowly grew upward, but barely put out any new growth
of branches or leaves. I assumed they were working on root growth
however, when I pulled them out to check a month later, the root
system was quite small and didn't fill the container by any means.

7. At no point did I fertilize because
the Miracle Grow potting mix already contained food. The bag said it
fed for 3 months or something, so you'd think the food would have
lasted at least a month for such a small pot, right? I was hardly
watering so I didn't think all the nutrients would have washed out
that fast.

8. I began setting the plants outside
to harden off about 2 and a half weeks ago. Temps in 60s - 70s,
gradually increasing sun. Brought in at night. The real sunlight did
little to spur new growth and in fact, seemed to make some plants
worse. Their leaves began to curl, got crispy, and the yellowing with
purple veins became more pronounced.

9. A few days ago, when the plants were
almost exactly 2 months old, I got desperate and decided to put them
out in the garden. At this point root growth was still very scarce.
Only a few of the plants looked green and healthy, albeit still
really small. (My garden's a mixture of containers filled with
Kellogg Raised Bed Mix and Miracle Grow potting mix. Raised beds (sq
foot garden) is filled with a "vegetable mix" bought from
city landfill consisting of compost, shredded bark, expanded shale
and IDK what else.)

10. Then yesterday, nature mocks me by
sending a severe freak hailstorm to my garden. It knocked off several
of the already scant leaves and shredded most others, so now some
plants are down to only one leaf left and they look extremely sorry
indeed. Luckily I have a few that were undercover and not hurt.

I had hoped they would recover, but my
growing season is really short in north TX (zone 8a) and I don't have
time to wait, so I had to go out and buy a couple of backups. It's
almost depressing how much bigger the Bonnie tomato plants are
compared to mine.

As I said earlier, this same thing
happens to me every single year no matter what I do. Even my bell
pepper seedlings are stunted - they're almost yellow with only one
set of leaves after 2 months, and each is about 1 inch tall. I've
started seeds in other mixes, including an organic mix, compost,
coconut coir, wet paper towels, etc and same issue with all of them.
I desperately need to know why this is happening so it never does
again! Thank you all so much.

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