We sure spend a lot of time babying our seedlings. We start them indoors where it’s safe from the elements. We start our seedlings in excellent soil. Sometimes we use warm water or a warming pad underneath to help germination and growth. They bask under grow lights to keep them from getting spindley or leggy.
But guess what? Your tomato seedlings need a good workout every now and then, too.
“A workout ?”
You bet! The one thing that tomatoes miss from being outside is the wind. Movement helps build strong, thick stems, just like a Pilates workout will strengthen your “core”.
- When the tomato seedlings reach about 2-3 inches, gently brush the tops of the plants with your hands once or twice a day
- Once they have their true leaves, and seedlings are over 4 inches tall, your tomatoes can handle a more vigorous workout. For nostalgia and entertainment, whip out those old Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons videos to get you and your tomatoes in the mood. Grab the stems and bend them back and forth. Do this to the higher part of the stems so that you won’t disturb the roots. A couple of times a day should suffice.
A research project from Cornell University and the University of Torino, Italy, showed mechanical brushing results in tomato plants that are shorter but stockier, have thicker stems, and are less likely to suffer transplantation stresses than seedlings that did not get a workout!