Friday, March 14, 2014

My Tomatoes' Journey: Transplant #1 (Part 5)

My tomato seeds were planted a few weeks ago. Since then, my tomatoes sprouted, and now I'm simply trying to keep my plants "fed" with plenty of sunlight and just the right amount of water. I used egg cartons to start my seeds, but they quickly outgrew that container. So now it's time for me to move 'em on up to a bigger container. Another word for this is transplanting. I'm calling this "Transplant #1" because we will be transplanting these plants to their final home outdoors once the last frost is behind us. If you started your seeds in bigger containers, you may be able to avoid this step altogether. I'm not sure what the advantages/disadvantages are to starting in smaller containers, but that's what I did. So, I must transplant. 

This process really isn't difficult, but it can take a little bit of time. So, let's get our hands dirty...

I'm still not using fancy containers; I simply saved some plastic produce containers with holes already in the bottom. You could also use larger yogurt containers and poke holes in the bottom. 

I am now using regular potting soil, and I mixed in some of the seed starting mix with it. I filled the container about halfway full with the soil before gently scooping up the tiny little tomato plants and gently placing it in the container. If you didn't catch that, "gently" is the operative word. You'll notice that there are still two plants growing in each segment of the egg carton. I have not "thinned" these yet. You'll learn about that in an upcoming post. I read that you should wait to thin the plants until the first "tomato leaf" (i.e., the ones with the jagged edges) appears. I'm not sure if I'm going to wait that long or not. In the meantime, I just transplanted both plants together. 

Place the plant(s) into the container and fill the container with soil until the plants are surrounded. You certainly want to make sure the entire root system is covered as well as part way up the stem. I added enough dirt to adequately support the stem so it would stand upright. 

You want to give each plant enough room in the container to grow a bit. You don't want to have to transplant again. After getting the plants situated in their new homes, I add dividers between the plants to avoid the root systems from growing together. I simply cut the plastic lids of the containers I used. You could use anything you'd like. Plastic is nice because it won't get soaked when watering. I also labeled popsicle sticks with the different tomato varieties. I don't want to lose track of which plants are which. 

Place your containers back in the sunlight on their trays and water from the bottom as needed. As a reminder, don't overwater your plants. Only water when the soil is no longer moist.

Check out my other posts on My Tomatoes' Journey