Two packs of tomato seeds not germinating?


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Every year for the past 15 or so years I grow my own tomatoes from seeds. This year i bought the only seeds I could find for Beefsteak and Better Boy tomatoes, from Lowes. FM vs the usual Burpee.
The seeds were coated not plain but no one had any other choices.
I used the same starter mix I've used for years, (Got two bundles of it in the shed), same trays, and they're sitting on the same two heat mats on the rack.
Its been three weeks and nothing so far. Getting concerned I put a few extra seeds in a starter mat in plastic a week ago and I see nothing from them either.
We're talking around 50 or so seeds, all duds it seems.
I normally put plants in the ground the second week in April, so chances are I may be buying plants this year.
Hopefully the four packs of other seeds, also Ferry Morse, will grow, but those will get put right in the ground once the weather warms enough here.

I'm hoping its not a repeat of last year, I bought a pack of Kirby Pickle seeds and planted a whole row. I got 1 pickle plant and 9 zuchini plants, and something I couldn't identify. What was supposed to be kirby pickles gave me an odd mix of small pickles and huge, massive cucumbers that shot off the main plant forming a vertical trunk type of plant while the vine like parts gave me the small pickles I was after.

Peas were also a dud last year, they took too long to come up and they got cooked by the early heat before I got any significant production from them. In past years, I had huge bushes of peas well into late June.
 
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My mangetout peas failed me this year, but I have been growing them year on year out of the same pack. One too many years.

I read an interesting thing about saving tomato seed. Apparently they need to ferment, you scrape the inside of the tomato out and leave it until the mushy bit ferments, then wash out the seeds and dry them. On the other hand I used to know an old boy who chose his best tomato each year and stepped on it in the greenhouse. Come Spring he would prick out the seedlings, I guess they fermented naturally.
 
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Do you have a Walmart around? I've had the same luck germinating seeds with Ferry Morse as I have had Burpee. Neither brand is better than the other in my opinion.

Its how you store or keep the seeds that matter. I have seen Lowes put their packs of seeds in the greenhouse part of Lowes right in the direct sun. If you see that, don't buy those seeds. Last year they wisely moved them just inside the doors where the houseplants are out of the sun and cooler. I don't think I've ever seen Walmarts seed outside but they do store things in those hot containers outside.

In my experience any kind of starter or potting mix or dirt will germinate seeds if you keep them damp at the right temps. After they sprout is a different story between disease and fertilization. I've done the damp coffee filter, in a sandwich bag, in a 70F closet, in the dark thing with great success for germinating them.

If it's been three weeks trying to germinate tomatoes either your seeds are no good, your temps are too low or way too hot, or your soil is way too dry.

They make a controller with a soil probe that the seed mats plug into that turns the power off if it gets to a certain temp, assuming the mat can raise it that much over ambient temps. I wouldn't have one without the other.
 
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I looked in Walmart but they didn't have anything but organic seeds with no VFN resistance.
Lowes here has the seeds in the middle of the store in front of the hardware bins and tractors.
They had just put the displays up a few days before I bought the seeds.
My heat mat is at 71 degrees, the starter trays are covered in shallow covers. the soil is damp.
The seeds I saved from last years cherry tomatoes germinated in 9 days and are now 4" tall.
They were planted the same time as the FM seeds.
I've had FM seeds in the past but this is the first time they've been coated. They looked like little round white beads.
I have a thermostatic set up on the mats, and they're in a spare room in the house on a table. The mats don't have much heating to do.
The soil is damp, not soaked. My guess at this point is that I have two bad bags of seed. Not a single one in the 50 have germinated.
 
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For tomatoes turn up the soil temp to 80F that will shave a day or two off germination time.

The cherry tomatoes germinated in the proper time at that temp. The pelleted seeds may take a couple more days to germinate but definitely not 2 weeks longer. Pelleted seeds aren't your problem.

It sounds like the seeds are bad. Take a coffee filter or paper towel and dampen it. Lay it on the counter and put the seeds on half of it and then fold the paper over the seeds. Put that in a gallon baggie and poof it up with your breath and seal it shut. Put it in the closet. If you hold the baggie up to the light you can see if they germinate. Give them 7-10 days.
 
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I never ran the heat that high before because it dries out the trays too fast even with the covers on them.
I put 6 or 7 remaining seeds in on a wet paper towel in a zip lock bag in the bottom of my kitchen hutch, its dark and its directly above
a heater duct. It stays around 75 degrees in there. That was 5 days ago. I sowed the starter trays on March 17th.

I've had seeds in the past that didn't produce 100% but never two packs that did nothing. I really figured that by now I'd have a three or four flats of nice sized plants at least half way on their way to getting put out in the garden.
 
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I've had some pretty crappy packs of seeds before but like you say seems like I've always had a couple seeds sprout.
 
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A number of years ago when a local farm supply was going out of business I bought two huge bails of premade starter mix, I've used that for years with good results. I'm doing the exact same thing I've done for years but this year I got nothing.
I'd estimate that in past years I've gotten close to 100% germination. I'd sow a full pack, and some would sprout earlier, but all usually eventually germinated. When I saw all the sprouts were large enough to move to individual cups they got moved to a light potting mix and put into a small hot house table I set up on my porch which uses a single heat mat on a thermostat. As they get larger I move them to a homemade glass hothouse next to the garden slowly opening it up to get them ready to plant. Its worked great for years.

I hate going to the local hot houses for plants, everytime I did I got diseased plants.
 
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When I put the last few FM tomato seeds in the cupboard here 5 days ago i did the same with a baggie and damp paper towel with some sunflower seeds, tonight i see those are all sprouting already. In a day or so I'll put them into individual cups.
The FM tomato seeds are just sitting there, they're staining the paper towel but not sprouting.
The temp in that cupboard is 72°F since that cabinet straddles a heater vent.

I stopped at Walmart last night and all they had there was some off brand Cherry, Grape, and San Marzano seeds and a huge rack full of flower seeds. Another rack had only Organic seeds, another Burpee rack had only Celebrity, Roma, and Brandywine determinate varieties.
The rack was 4ft wide and 6ft tall but most of the seeds were for other than tomatoes. They had no squash seeds, and no Okra seeds.

Something else I've not been able to find are the giant African marigold seeds I always used to buy, they were only at Walmart and they were cheap, like $.39 per pack of 100 seeds or so.
I'd put them around my tomatoes as part of my pest control methods.
Not to mention they also drew in bees for pollination.

The last time I bought them I bought 12 packs and I used them up last season.

I'm thinking its too late to bother seeding a new batch of tomatoes now, I usually have my plants in by the end of April or first week in May.
Even if I seed another two flats with new seed, I'll be 4 to 6 weeks before they can go outside at the minimum.
 
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When I put the last few FM tomato seeds in the cupboard here 5 days ago i did the same with a baggie and damp paper towel with some sunflower seeds, tonight i see those are all sprouting already. In a day or so I'll put them into individual cups.
The FM tomato seeds are just sitting there, they're staining the paper towel but not sprouting.
The temp in that cupboard is 72°F since that cabinet straddles a heater vent.

I stopped at Walmart last night and all they had there was some off brand Cherry, Grape, and San Marzano seeds and a huge rack full of flower seeds. Another rack had only Organic seeds, another Burpee rack had only Celebrity, Roma, and Brandywine determinate varieties.
The rack was 4ft wide and 6ft tall but most of the seeds were for other than tomatoes. They had no squash seeds, and no Okra seeds.

Something else I've not been able to find are the giant African marigold seeds I always used to buy, they were only at Walmart and they were cheap, like $.39 per pack of 100 seeds or so.
I'd put them around my tomatoes as part of my pest control methods.
Not to mention they also drew in bees for pollination.

The last time I bought them I bought 12 packs and I used them up last season.
 
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I've used that offbrand seed company from Walmart before. They seemed fine. I didn't look extra hard at the seeds but I didn't see any heirloom tomato seeds. All were hybrid. Kind of concerning if you want to save tomato seeds.

I always start my late tomatoes around then end of May or first of June and they have plenty of time to grow so you should have plenty of time to grow tomatoes.
 
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My go to tomato variety has generally been Burpee Better Boy. The problem I have is finding them 'VFN' tollerant. All the local greenhouses grow only the non disease resistant varieties. I have the same problem when looking for seeds. Usually Tractor Supply is the only source for disease tollerant seeds but I bought from Lowes when I saw they were VFN tollerant I bought them while I was there. A trip to TSC also now shows they no longer have the huge Burpee display and all the seeds, all I saw was some sort of plastic pods for 6 for $15.
 
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I usually grow Celebrity or Empire to start, then for my late tomatoes I use Better Boys, like you for the disease resistance. This year I'm trying Brandywines so I can save the seeds, if they suit me.

They still have the seeds here at TSC. Burpee I believe.
 
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I tried Celebrity and Brandywine years ago, along with Early Girl, Beefsteak, Better Boy, Better Beef, and Porterhouse.
The Celebrity, Brandywine, and Early girl all ripened early and all at once. The rest did great. Porterhouse also did great, giving me some of the largest tomatoes I've ever had. They averaged about 2.3 lbs, with some over 4lbs. They were what ended my use of string and trellis' to support my plants. I now use heavy 18" and 24" diameter by 6ft tall re-mesh cages secured with a t post between every pair.
I have 60 cages in all but in the last few years I cut down on the overall size of the garden. I was planting just over 1/4 acre, I cut it back to about 30x15ft or so in my back yard.

I accidentally found out that pickles and zucchini like growing in the cages too. Last year when I got the mixed batch of seeds, I had planted what I thought was a row of Kirby pickles and ended up with 3/4 of the row being zucchini, which grew in the same tomato cages. The plant were 6ft tall by mid July and kept producing late into the season. I had tomatoes up to the end of October and was still ripening green tomatoes I had picked before the weather into late Nov. The tomato crop last year which was split between Better Beef and Better Boy went in on May 4, I pulled the plants and picked what was left the first week of Nov.
The Better Beef plants did well early on, but got diseased when it got really hot, then after the weather cooled off, they seemed to recover and start growing and producing good tomatoes again. The Better Boys went all summer with only minor issues, no blight but a few had canker spots when it got really hot.
The biggest advantage I see to Better Boys is that they produce fairly steady all summer and fall with little attention.
If I gave them 10ft tall cages, they'd likely grow to fill the cages. I actually added some height to a few cages by putting 20" legs on a few cages. It means picking tomatoes with a step ladder but they stay healthier and produce more that way.

In the past 10 years or so we haven't had much 'spring' weather, it seems to go from freezing to sweltering hot all at once.
Last week I was running the heater and wearing a heavy winter jacket with nights in the 20's, today its 84 degrees, last night never went below 70. I found that if I do a late batch of tomatoes, they either 'catch up' with the earlier plants or if put in later, they don't come due in time to produce enough to bother with.


cages.jpg
 
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All were hybrid. Kind of concerning if you want to save tomato seeds.
People tell me I shouldn't save f1 hybrid seed, but I really don't see why not. As I understand genetics I should get one like each of the original parents and two hybrids; and nobody is going to try crossing two duds. The originals were pretty good.
 
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I tried seeds from a few of my more productive Better Boy plants but all I got was stunted plants that produced little or no fruit. Those that produced fruit only put on a few malformed tomatoes that never matured.

I had been saving seeds for years from a few varieties of grape, cherry, and San Marzano tomatoes which do fine every year but I haven't planted those in two years now. The seeds I started with for my plum tomatoes were seeds saved from a neighbor's tomato plant 40 years ago. He told me they were seeds he brought with him from Italy in the 50's. They give me a huge eggplant shaped plum tomato that generally weighs in well over a pound. They grow as a bush about 5ft tall and get loaded with fruit. Their highly susceptible to disease though. I plant those away from my main garden in a couple of raised beds I have up near the house. They're a good tomato for sauce or paste but have little juice when you crush them. The old guy that gave me the seeds said to make sure to keep them far from any other tomato because tomatoes can cross pollenate and it'll ruin the seeds for next year. He would use fireplace ash, cow manure, and compost on his plants, and every two years he'd burn the ground by planting barley and burning it off when it dried out. He said it kept diseases out of the ground. I do the same if I see any issues during the summer. I generally just chop up my leaves and cover the ground, I burn off the un-composted leaves in the spring.
I had problems about 9 years ago with plants getting diseased, it was the first year I used a few bought plants I burned the garden, didn't plant there for 3 years after that, using it only as a covered compost pile for those three years. I cleared it off and tried planting there again after that but had problems again. At the end of the season I took the backhoe and I dug out the whole area down 5ft, and I put in all new soil and started over. That seems to have solved the problem.

I also no longer do the soakere hose for water, I use tubes that can be filled every few days with water. Since I don't plant a whole field full f tomatoes now, the tubes work fine. I still use a fine sprinkler on occasion too to rinse off the plants every so often. In the spring when the cedar and pine trees are making pollen, it coats nearly everything around here, including the tomato plants.
 
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After 10 days with the loose seeds laying on a wet paper towel in a baggie, 3 out of the 6 have attempted to do something, one seems to have turned black, another one split open and sort of dissolved, and one did nothing and looks the same. The 3 that sprouted gave off 1/4" long curly shoots that shot out yesterday and stopped.
I tried to dig out a few of the seeds sowed in the starter mix and I could only find one that I was sure was one of the seeds, the rest were either melted or rotted away or dissolved I suppose somehow. The one I found looked untouched, when i crushed it, it was white through and through, like a tiny ball of chalk. The remaining seed that did nothing on the papertowel was the same way, just a white ball, no seed inside.
I guess its a lesson learned. Don't buy any more FM tomato seeds. Since Lowes won't accept returned seed packs, even if their unopened, I guess I'm either out the $12 or so bucks I spent on the rest of the seeds if they don't grow. I haven't opened those packs up yet to see if they're coated or not. I hope not.
(The pack of tomato seeds said nothing about being coated either.)
 

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