I have miniature "balcony" tomatoes which I've planted from seeds last year, and they gave fruit which have been sitting in the fridge slowly drying down and shriveling for about half a year. A few months back I decided to try and plant these shriveled up tomatoes without taking them apart to get to the seeds inside, just to see what would happen. I think all of them sprouted, but there is a noticeable difference in sizes of the new plants. As you would expect, most fruits have produced groups of small saplings, but some have grown into few, but much more massive.

You can barely see the gaps in soil because I used sprouting pods and planted some of them together into one pot. Why is there such a great difference between the saplings? Is it just because the bigger ones had so few other seeds to compete with for nutrients? Because it doesn't look to me like it would be that big a deal, but I may be wrong. Could it be because the roots got stuck inside the tomato fruit's skin? Or is it because some fruit have had more time to mature better than others?

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  • 2
    I'm not convinced these are tomato plants of any description - the tallest one has enough leaves that it should have started producing leaves that look like tomato plants, that is, lobed edges, though its a little unclear what the smaller ones with only 2-4 leaves might be.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 5, 2017 at 10:04
  • This tiny pot is just under 10cm in diameter, and the saplings are tightly packed in there. Also, I'm not using any fertilizers and might be watering them improperly. And there is currently not enough light and warmth to really let them grow. There have been a few days so far where I have notices significant growth in all pots between morning and the previous day, but the good weather is yet to come. Jun 5, 2017 at 11:15
  • Yes, I understand all that, but have any of the seedlings developed leaves like a tomato plant (different from those in the picture)?
    – Bamboo
    Jun 5, 2017 at 11:57
  • I think so. Here's today's photo: i.sstatic.net/YOyk6.jpg Jun 5, 2017 at 12:09
  • The small ones in the right hand pot look like tomatoes, but the tall one on the right does not - that may be a weed that's got in the mix.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 5, 2017 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


Nope, nutrients or rather chemistry is not affecting the size of these seedlings. It is genetics. One thing people need to understand is the process of making seeds where one can actually put seeds in a packet and declare it is 'such and such' and you will grow 'such and such'.

While growing your own plants and allowing them to make seed (tomato) you have absolutely no idea what pollen has fertilized the flowers and no idea what the genetics (nor genotype or phenotype) will produce. None. Pollen flies through the air; from neighbors, tomato production greenhouses, from Home Depot Garden Center. This unknown pollen is half the genetics that made the seed you are now growing. Seed to be sold is produced under very strict, sterile, sealed and controlled environments.

The difference is only genetics. Go ahead and try to separate into tiny containers (no larger than 3" please) using only potting soil.

No harm in seeing what happens; you'll get tomatoes for sure. Use potting soil, start with tiny pots and transfer to 1 gallon pots and then 5 or 10 gallon pots...all with potting soil. Add a little balanced fertilizer (not compost or any source of chemicals that you have no idea of the percentage you are adding, it has to be balanced)...start with even numbers; 10-10-10 then when the flowering begins reduce the nitrogen so that the number, the first number is less than the other two numbers; 5-7-6 for instance. That encourages flowers and reproductive growth which means tomatoes! Too little chemistry or a little too much chemistry (fertilizer) is death for plants.

  • I always, always pay good money for NON GMO seed. Always.
    – stormy
    Jun 4, 2017 at 22:34
  • I'm growing these for purely decorative purposes, and so I'm not concerned about the nutrient proportions. I simply water my plants (peppers, citruses, mint, different berries) and nothing has ever died on me yet. I manually rumbled around the flowers with a small painting brush for pollination. Maybe some insects got to them first, maybe it's biology beyond my depth, but I don't think there was any pollen other than from trees that grow around my apartment building. I'm pretty sure there are no tomatoes planted in the city, and it's not a popular idea to plant them on balconies like I did. Jun 4, 2017 at 22:59
  • No big deal. Honest. We have no way to know anything about the 'OP' and their background or even expertise. I just go on as if they know nothing. Take no offense, please. Pollen is in the air from miles and miles away. There is no way to control plants out of doors for what pollen gets them fertilized. Trust me, we get so many questions from people trying to grow on their balconies, there are zillions of tomatoes in your neighborhood and beyond. Did you grow only one species of tomato last year? Just two will make different plants from the parent...not kidding about the pollen tho!
    – stormy
    Jun 4, 2017 at 23:24
  • And if I am reading you comment correctly you are saying you never fertilize? So where do the plants get the chemicals necessary to manage this process called photosynthesis? Photosynthesis requires, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium as well as the dozen or so micro chemicals boron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron...so on. Fertilizer is not the same as pesticide (which includes herbicides in the term pesticide). I've been seeing this idea popping up and am quite flummoxed by this notion. Fertilizer is critical, as critical as light and water to grow plants. Quite the science!
    – stormy
    Jun 4, 2017 at 23:30
  • And I use the term chemicals not nutrients...same thing essentially. Humans think nutrients are like food which is the farthest thing from the stuff they call 'nutrients' for plants, that make their own food; for growth of leaves, stems, reproductive growth and root growth. Without these, plants will limp along until they die. Too much and they will die quite quickly. I do know botany and plants need chemicals to live...
    – stormy
    Jun 4, 2017 at 23:34

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