March 7, 2010

Moving Day for the Tomatoes

As promised, Our tomatoes moved into their halfway house this week and from all accounts they are doing very well. Here’s their story:

About six weeks ago I started some tomatoes, herbs and bell pepper seeds in a Jiffy starter kit. I had used one of these kits before but didn’t quite follow the directions - I was too quick to move them outdoors. So this time I did some research online and read all of the directions and it seems to be paying off.

Jiffy Greenhouse Kit

Jiffy Greenhouse Kit

Here is what we saw about three weeks into their lives when they got to be too tall to have the greenhouse lid in place.

Tomatoes in the front and some herbs in the back

Tomatoes in the front and some herbs in the back

After another couple of weeks, the tomatoes were doing the best, they had true leaves and were about six inches tall, albeit spindly. According to tips I found online, I thinned out the seedlings, leaving only the strongest tomato in each pod. I also kept them by a sunny window, watered them when the pod was dry and kept the ceiling fan on low in their room. When the weather started to warm up I moved them outside for a few hours during the day but made sure to bring them in at night.

The seedlings on transplant day

The seedlings on transplant day

Then this week I moved the tomatoes into their “halfway house”. They had to move because they were outgrowing their little pod and needed a bigger house in which to grow stronger before they could move into their permanent home. In a few more weeks when they are stronger and the nighttime temp stays above 55 they will take up residence in the garden, upside down in hanging pots and anywhere else I can stick one because if they all make it I will have over 30 tomato plants!! Their luxury accomodations as they await the warm-up and continue to thrive are solo cups, soda bottles, milk jugs and other recycleables.

I saved all the plastic bottles, cups and jugs for a few weeks,  punched some holes in the bottom of each and VIOLA planters!

I saved all the plastic bottles, cups and jugs for a few weeks, punched some holes in the bottom of each and VOILA!

Next I prepared the dirt. The Bloomin’ EZ Compost (blogged about here) instructions suggested mixing one part compost to four parts garden/potting soil which I mixed in an old plastic bin. I was reading more about the product on their website and the one thing I am really excited about is that trials of their product by Clemson University resulted in more pounds of produce (compared to commercial fertilized plants) as well sweeter fruit. Both of which sound good to me. Plus its organic!

Really great dirt!

Garden Soil & Bloomin EZ Compost blend

Finally it was time to transplant! I filled each container with a few inches of dirt, removed the netting from each seedlings pod and dropped ‘em in. I read that tomatoes should be transplanted deeper than their original planting as the stem produces lots of good roots when buried. Planting them deeper also helps them be more upright and less spindly.

Removing the netting from the pod

I buried several inches of each stem and lightly packed the dirt around it. Gave them a thorough watering and let them enjoy some sunshine.

All the tomatoes in their happy little halfway houses

All the tomatoes in their happy little halfway houses

I’ll be sure to let you know how they are doing as summer progresses. Plus, if you want any tomato plants, please let me know - I don’t know where I am going to put them all!


Forgot to mention how much the whole seedling project cost. Jiffy greenhouse = $7; total seeds (including tomatoes, bell peppers, rosemary, basil, and dill = $11; recycled halfway houses = $FREE; water = $FREE from mother nature via our rain barrel. Total Project Cost = $18. Compare that to the cost of buying all this produce over the course of a season and you can’t beat it!

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