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Tomato seeds have not germinated - can I do anything?

EscapetothegardenEscapetothegarden Posts: 188
edited May 2023 in Fruit & veg

I bought some tomato seeds (Chadwick cherry) from an online retailer that I came across here.  I wanted to try out an interesting variety rather than the normal ones I get.

I sowed the seeds in a seed tray and the seeds haven’t germinated.  I believe it has been two weeks.  

They were placed by the back garden door of the kitchen and although it may be cool at times I thought it would be ok as we are in early May.

I even poked around a bit this morning looking for any signs - I couldn’t even spot any seeds.

Is there anything I can do? Could they possibly germinate after this long?

Also, is it too late to order some more and try again? Or is it too late?

Feeling disappointed ☹️ 

Thank you 💐



  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,463
    What's the compost like? It should be moist but not soggy (too wet and the seeds can rot, too dry and nothing will happen). If it's OK, maybe try putting them somewhere warmer? I usually germinate my tomatoes on a heated propagator base then move them onto the windowsill as soon as they're through.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • EscapetothegardenEscapetothegarden Posts: 188
    edited May 2023
    Thank you for your reply!

    I have had a feel - it is quite wet.  Will they have rotted this fast?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,882
    Not ideal having them next to a door because of draughts, so if you can get them somewhere more sheltered, that would help.
    However, they can take a while if conditions aren't ideal. I had to start again with mine as the new compost I used was a disaster. I resowed various ones in my own old compost/grit mix, and they've been far better. My house hasn't been as warm as usual, so I expected them to be slower anyway. I never sow until mid March, and the re sown ones were done in early April or so. The crop might be a little later than usual this year.

    I think you've over done the cling film too - they really need lots of light, every bit as much as warmth. A single layer, pulled tightly, would be far better if you don't have a suitable cover.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thank you @Fairygirl

    The compost I used was a normal Gro-sure compost.  I will try to place them near the window instead but there is less light.

    I put the second cling film layer on a few days ago as it was quite sunny and very warm and I wanted them to get warmer outside - the cling film was rubbish quality and kept on peeling off 😑 so doubled up - but yes probably over did it!
  • Is is too late to start again? ☹️
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,691
    Wet compost is evil stuff and covering the tray with clingfilm will just make things worse. I find it is best to start tomatoes off in very small pots and that way you can minister unto their needs more easily but unless you are a fan on Bon Maman mousses, you may not have pots to hand. If possible start them off on a windowsill so they get warmth and light and don't let the compost get too wet. They are unlikely to need much watering, after the first soaking, until they have germinated and grown a little (though obviously keep an eye on things as dry compost won't help at all). If they are covered in plastic there is ample opportunity for moulds to take hold and you cannot keep an eye on them very easily.
    The cold air coming in the back door everytime it is opened will not encourage germination even in early May...............tomatoes like a bit of comfort.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,882
    Sorry -I missed Jenny's post and your reply, but yes - keeping the compost at a good level of moistness is often tricky, and they don't like sitting in very wet soil for long. Mine was a compost I'd used for various things last year - but this year, the same product was dire - even for the sweet peas, which really aren't too fussy.
    It's worth having another go, although it might be better using some basic garden soil if you have it, with some grit or Perlite for extra drainage. The toms will be later, but that's just how it is. If you have some of the usual toms you grow, try doing some of them too, because it might also be down to the variety as well. 
    I think quite a lot of people are having similar problems with composts, and are experimenting more. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,540
    I sowed 4 varieties of tomatoes, all at the same time, all in the same compost, all in the same conditions.  One variety completely failed to germinate but the others are all doing well - and have now been pricked out and soon potted on.  The variety that failed was not one I've tried before.  It could be that you were just unlucky - if I had only sown that one variety I too would be feeling a bit paranoid now.  

    But agree - the conditions you sowed it in were not ideal.  Mine were on an east facing windowsill in a propagator to start then the covers lifted after germination and bottom heat removed, with the compost kept moist but not wet.
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • Thank you all 💐

    I can only conclude that the soil was too damp.  I have ordered another pack of seeds from a different online retailer.

    I will read more about compost - I am a beginner at this and wanted to avoid buying too many extra things - I have a module seed tray in which I have sowed some courgette seed - I am worried now they will fail too! ☹️
  • @didyw that’s interesting! Perhaps I should try another variety at the same time too 👍
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