Emergency Surgery for Tomatoes

My spring seed starting is going well, with quite a few seedlings coming up. Alpine strawberries, Jacob's ladder, bee balm and columbine have all germinated reasonably well, but my tomatoes seem to be having a few problems. This might be partly because of the low temperatures they are subject to in my basement, but I'm hoping that once they germinate, they will grow stronger and stockier at the cooler temperature.

Two of my tomato plants that came up seemed to have a difficult time breaking through the seed coat. One in particular (the variety 'Celebrity') had been up for almost a week, but it was just a stem with the seed still on top, unable to get its leaves out. I left it for so long to see if it could manage to break out, but after so many days I was afraid it would soon use up all its stored energy and die if it couldn't get any light on its leaves. The only thing to do was try to break the seed myself.

The stems of new seedlings are very fragile, so I was very careful to handle only the seed coat (which was very hard). I cracked it with my fingernail enough so the leaves, which I could see inside, should be able to unfurl. I didn't pull it off, as that could have pulled the leaves off with it. Hopefully it will now be able to grow successfully. The other tomato that had the same problem hadn't been trapped as long, and was much easier to free. This operation may also have been easier with a pair of tweezers and some sharp scissors.

I've never seen a seedling with this problem before, but something unusual often turns up. Last year, one of my tomato seeds produced twins, two small plants growing from a single seed. Apparently this is common when growing citrus fruits from seed, and the two plants will be genetically identical.

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