I'd say they were nearly big enough. Maybe give them another week or two. Wait for a run of mild weather, and plant them out late-arvo with a good water-in. I'm direct seeding everything down here now... Though not today- it's 37c and 41c tomorrow.
Sort of. They were in direct sunlight for the morning half of the day. If yours were grown under shadecloth maybe 5-7 half-days of direct sunlight would be advisable.
I have actually had better strike rates with direct seeding than planting out.
Your seedlings look healthy Jenni but they are a tad leggy (elongated stems like they've been searching for light). Generally, tomato and chillies are right to be planted out when they get their 2nd set of leaves but the time of year can play a part in safely planting them out into the garden. In summer, it's best to hold the seedlings back until they develop a good root growth (so you can see some fibres in the bottom of the tray) because it will give them a better chance to handle the heat when they are planted out. In winter, you can often get away with planting out under developed seedlings. Either way, if you want a good strong seedling with the best chance of survival then potting them up into trays after germination where each seedling has its own segment is the best IMHO. Then, you can let them grow into little plants and plant them out when the root ball is nice and developed but not bound. If you are holding the seedlings back a sprinkle of blood and bone or other fertiliser (like soluble) will kick them along after the initial seedling mix as ran out of nutrients.
I raise my seedlings in an outdoor open mini-greenhouse (open both sides) which has shade cloth over the top. The shade cloth protects the seedlings from the midday sun but throughout the day they still get some direct sunlight. This way they usually grow strong and don't need "hardening off" because they essentially are hardened. When I plant them out I ensure I water them daily for at least the first week until they get established. I also like to plant deep so I tend to bury the seedling with some of the stem under the soil to promote more root growth.
As Tim says, direct sowing is the best way where possible - just remember to keep the water up to the seeds because if they dry out right as they germinate you can lose them all. The reason I sow most of mine into trays is to prevent ants and field mice (even birds) from eating the seeds. There are some crops I always direct sow such as: peas, and beans (common variety), sometimes I'll sow cucumbers/pumpkins or broadcast salad seeds like rocket or lettuce.
Hi Jenni, if you started them indoors or under the shade cloth, they need to kiss the sun before you plant them in the ground. If you harden them off it will have a better chance of withstanding the state of our warm weather of late. Put it outside ½ an hour the first day, then 1 hour the next day…you increase each day for at-least a week.
With the leggy tomato plants and chillies you can bury them deep when you plant them, so that will be okay.
I grew a couple of heirloom varieties and they are overdue to go in the ground. I could put them in the ground tomorrow or the next but I might need to cover them up with shade cloth during the day.
I have tomatoes growing right now and they are seedlings I bought from Bunnings.