Skip to comments.Weekly Gardening Thread (Transplanting Tomatoes) Vol. 10, March 9, 2012
Posted on 03/09/2012 10:51:08 AM PST by JustaDumbBlonde
Good afternoon gardeners! After a high of 81 degrees yesterday, we are at 50 degrees today after experiencing high winds and 3 inches of rain last night. Radar would indicate that there is more rain to come, as I see it in Texas right now. I hope that all of our Texas gardeners are catching up on much needed rain! PTL!
We have so many new gardeners in our group, in addition to folks with the desire to begin gardening, that I thought a primer on transplanting might be useful. Please feel free to add to the discussion with your regular practices. And, as always, please feel free to ask any questions that you may have. This group loves to share information, and advice is free for the asking!
Because I plant over 100 tomato plants every year, I've got my transplanting down to a science that works for me and allows me to move down the row quickly. My tools are a bulb planter, a old spoon from the kitchen, a small bucket and several 2-liter soda bottles. (One day I'd love to do a thread on all of the common non-garden-related items we all use in our gardens.)
I start off my mixing up several bottles of a starter fertilizer, either the TNT pictured below, or Miracle Grow Quick Start. Whatever you use, make sure it is a low-nitrogen product, or you will grow lovely leaves and not much else. I also put some tomato food around the base of the tomato after transplant. Please notice the N-P-K formulation on these products. Similar products from any manufacturer are fine, these are what stores in my area offer for sale.
My tomatoes are planted through a commercial quality landscape fabric for weed control and moisture retention. It has other benefits, but weed control is my major concern. I begin by measuring off 30 inch increments and marking them on my fabric, then I go back and cut X's in the fabric and fold the corners under to access the soil.
Begin by digging your hole. I use a bulb planter because it makes the perfect diameter hole for a transplant that comes from a commercial 6-9 pack, or the small newspaper pots that I make myself. Tomatoes should be planted "deep", so dig your hole accordingly.
Here is an example of a bulb planter:
By "deep", I mean that you are going to plant more than just the roots, you are going to plant at least half of the stalk as well, up to 3/4 of the height of the plant is perfectably acceptable. Bonnie Plants, which supplies the likes of WalMart, Lowes and Home Depot garden centers, used to suggest 80% of the plant stem, but they have since backed that off to 2/3. This method is really the ONLY way to grow the strongest possible plant. Roots will develop on the entire length of the stem that is buried, giving your plants lots of roots to anchor the plant, as well as the ability to absorb more moisture and nutrients. In the photo below, the top of my index finger is indicating how deep I'm going to plant this tomato.
The next photo shows that I have pinched-off the leaves of the plant up to the point that I will bury the stem. This is not a required step, many folks let them stay, but it is my personal preference to remove them to avoid air pockets around the new roots.
Next, gently place your plant in the hole you've prepared. You can see from the photos below that there is enough room in the hole to surround the delicate roots with looser soil to accomodate quick spread and avoid transplant shock.
In the next step, you should replace the soil you removed with the bulb planter, just enough to cover the existing rootball. I use the small bucket to break up the soil and hold it until I'm ready to put it back. If you're not working on landscape fabric, of course you can keep the soil on the ground next to the hole. The important thing is making sure you break it up well.
Then water that soil in with your starter fertilizer/water mixture. Water until the loose soil is underwater and then allow it to soak in. It only takes a minute or less.
After the water soaks in and settles the loose soil, fill in the remainder of the hole, and build it up to a small pyramid. The next rain or watering will take that pyramid down to level ground and, if it doesn't, that's okay too. At this point if you have not already fertilized your soil, place a tablespoon or two of a good tomato fert around the base of the plant. DO NOT let the crystals touch the stem!
My final step is unfolding the landscape fabric to cover the soil, and standing back to watch the growth!
The Weekly Gardening Thread is a weekly gathering of folks that love soil, seeds and plants of all kinds. From complete newbies that are looking to start that first potted plant, to gardeners with some acreage, to Master Gardener level and beyond, we would love to hear from you.
This thread is non-political, although you will find that most here are conservative folks. No matter what, you wont be flamed and the only dumb question is the one that isnt asked.
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Very nice tutorial!
Note to self: time to get busy making paper pots!
Hi! Please add me to your list.
Wow! What a story.
I guess this illustrates another REALLY good reason to use rebar! :-)
...and a mallet or hammer!
Wow! A tender hug from me for your aunt.
You and me both - now that wood stove season is over I get to use the newspapers :)
My tomato seedlings are about an inch tall.
Finally getting around to replying. Got bot my plots tilled and put into rows yesterday after adding some manure compost and peat mulch. I have a bunch of tomato plants in small containers saved from years past. My neighbor has a LOT of volunteer tomato plants in a couple of his veggie beds.
We are still in the low 40s with rain showers hanging in the better part of the day. Lord knows we need rain here in central Texas. The lake is about 50 feet low and I hope the storms west of here dump a few feet into Lake Travis. My parsley plants are growing like crazy. Our neighbor loves cooking with it and I told her to help herself.
We’re going to go see her early next month - her “little brother”, my dad, is 89. Her memory is failing - when he called her for her birthday, she got confused and for a short while, didn’t know who he was. It will probably be the last time they see each other .... he has CHF and she’s a tiny little thing .... I think a strong wind would blow her away. They don’t “make ‘em” any more like my dad & Aunt E .... the best of the best. I’ll be sure and give her that hug!!
Glad to hear that you got your stuff moved safely. Getting “unboxed” and organized was a huge chore for us and we still cannot find some things.
That’s quite the story.
She is one tough lady.
Sending prayers for her.
Feisty yet loving and caring. I know what you mean. Give dad a smoocheroonie. ;-)
Could someone remind me which gardening thread had the newspaper pot construction in it? Or another source would be good too.
Great looking garden! I wish I had that much area to plant every year. Time for me to move to the old farm. I use rebar as well, and cut swim noodles into 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces and but them on the top. I almost took out an eye a few years ago. Get the pink or red. I find them along the road during the summer.
JustaDumbBlonde, aren’t you the newspaper pot construction expert?
I was at one of the parks last week and there are areas that have several feet of good dirt. I feel like getting some for my yard. I found a couple of "rocks" while on my expedition. One was a small point and the other was the bottom half of a 4 - 6 inch knife.
Boy do I know that feeling --- and it will be 9 years next month since I moved. I'm not a real organized person, if you couldn't tell :(
Thanks! Even with us moving ourselves we are having problems remembering what some boxes have in them. Most boxes were marked well enough but at the end of the packing process we neglected to label every box and some items were just thrown in to boxes to fill them up! I know what you mean! Also I found out that this 64 year old is no longer 35. Ouch!