Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Tomatoes' Journey: Transplanting Outdoors - Part 10

For those of you that didn't start your tomato plants from seed and just wanted to buy plants, here is your time to jump in! I just put my plants in the ground last night, and I'm already feeling a little defeated. My little tomato plants are dwarfish, and I have very little faith that they will survive. So, I have a few  sources of plants: 1) tomato plants I got from a friend who started from seed, 2) plants I bought from the store, and 3) plants I started from seed. In case mine totally die out, then I haven't wasted an entire tomato growing season. 

After your plants reach approximately 6" in height and have a strong, thick stem, you are ready to transplant these babies outside! Before you plant them in the ground,  you need to harden-off, or acclimate, the plants to prevent them from going into shock from the change in environment. 

A few tips that I read I'm going to try this year...
2014 Garden
  • A good gardening rule of thumb is to plant in the evening after the heat of the day. Planting in the morning or afternoon could scorch the plants. 
  • Don't plant all your tomato plants in one big clump or in one bed. It's good to space them throughout your garden to help prevent diseases, pests, and overcrowding. I have a few 4' x 4' beds, so I'm planting two tomato plant per bed and then interspersing peppers plants in the same bed. I am "breaking the rules" and have one large bed with just tomato plants; we'll see how it goes. 
  • Try not to plant the tomatoes in the same place every year to avoid soil-borne diseases. 
  • I mentioned in the Soil Preparation post that it's important to position the tomatoes where they will get a lot of sun, and at the minimum, good morning sunlight. 
After you've acclimated the plants and your soil is prepped, you are ready to plant these little guys outside. The process for transplanting outdoors is similar to the process of transplanting the small seedlings to a larger container indoors. Check out Transplant #1 for more info. 

Using a trowel, dig a 5 - 6" hole in the soil. Depending on how large the plant is will determine how deep to dig the hole. The goal is to leave only 4" or so above the soil line so that the plants can really root into the soil. You really want to burry the majority of the stem and root.

Sprinkle some of the egg shells in the hole to help prevent tomato rot later on. 

Gently take the tomato plant out of its container and transfer it into the hole. 

Cover the hole with soil. Gently pack down the soil, but don't tamp it down too hard as the roots like loose soil. 

Water at the base of the plant. I watered my plants with compost tea. I won't water them every time with this, but I'll probably water it once/week with compost tea. The other days, I'm relying on rain or  regular ole well water. The weather in your area and soil composition will determine how much you need to water.

The tomato plant variety determines the spacing between plants, but most tomatoes should be planted approximately 18" to 24" apart.

Let me know how you're tomato plants are doing or if you have any tomato gardening advice...because I need all the help I can get!

Check out my other posts on My Tomatoes' Journey.

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