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.
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Weekly Gardening Thread (Catalog Fever) Vol. 1 Jan 6, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Seeds) Vol. 2, January 13, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread Vol. 3, January 20, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (U.S. Hardiness Zones) Supplemental Vol. 1
Weekly Gardening Thread (Soil Types) Vol. 4, January 27, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Vacation) Vol. 5, February 03, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Vacation) Vol. 6, February 10, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Vacation?) Vol. 7, February 17, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Home Sweet Home) Vol. 8, February 24, 2012
Weekly Gardening Thread (Soil Structure Part 1) Vol. 9, March 2, 2012
Detailed State Plant Hardiness Zone Maps
|Alabama||District of Columbia
||Kentucky||Montana||Ohio||Texas ( East )|
|Alaska||Florida||Louisiana||Nebraska||Oklahoma||Texas ( West )|
|California ( Northern )
||Idaho||Massachusetts||New Jersey||Puerto Rico||Virginia
|California ( Southern )||Illinois||Michigan||New Mexico||Rhode Island||Washington|
|Colorado||Indiana||Minnesota||New York||South Carolina
|Connecticut||Iowa||Mississippi||North Carolina||South Dakota||Wisconsin|
Great photos...great info.!!
Thanks as always.
This should be stressed again. The tomato plant will make more roots from the buried portion of the stem and be able to absorb more nutrients from the soil, resulting in larger and more abundant crop yields, and be better able to withstand dry periods and wind..............
Please add me to your ping list. Thanks!
Thanks, and you’re welcome! It is such a pleasure sharing info.
Terrific! Thank You!
Is that rebar you’re using to stake your tomatoes?
Thanks for another idea or two we can rip off...now to track down some rebar.
About how many quarts do you put up with 100 plants?
Last year I had 160 or so plants, and I put up hundreds of jars of tomato sauce, green tomato relish, spiced tomato jam, etc. We also love fried green tomatoes.
That is amazing!
I use the rebar for my peppers too. With our loooong growing season, many of my peppers reach 5-6' tall.
Great looking garden - thanks for the info
I only had 6 tomato plants last year and I scrounged up 6 cages that my mom wasn’t using. My plants grew ‘great guns’ and ended up collapsing the cages .... quite a mess! I laughed when I saw the rebar .... hadn’t thought about using something like that, but for sure, it won’t bend or break!!
One more question .... what do you use to tie the tomato plants to the rebar?
Please add me to your weekly garden thread. I’m a newbie but would like to grow some tomatoes in a container this year. Thank you.
I use a velcro tape to tie the plants to the rebar. It is reuseable from year to year. I am going on year 4 with some of the pieces.
I know a better way to set those tomatoe plants in the ground.
Make a furrow and set the plant in it laying down on its side. Have some of that stalk in the furrow too. The entire length of plant in the furrow will turn into root structure which will increase the capacity of the plant to get nutrients.
Howdy, howdy. It’s 55 and overcast in my corner of the DelMarVa Peninsula, after being in the 70s yesterday. It was supposed to clear up by now, but it looks like it wants to rain again. The ground is still over saturated from the rains we got last week, and last night’s rain didn’t help any.
You’re welcome. Thank you for stopping in.
In our divided house, it is always the Tigers ... me with Auburn and my husband with LSU. I’ll yell for LSU if they aren’t playing Auburn. :)
Hey! We are thankful for the rain after last year’s drought, but it has been an awfully wet winter. Thank goodness my husband and son got several hundred acres of corn planted earlier this week. It’s not too late yet, but it is getting close and we have hundreds of acres yet to go.
Here’s a tomato stake ‘horror story’ for you. My elderly aunt has had a vegetable garden all her life. Back ‘in the day’ (depression years), you had a garden or you starved. Anyway, even in her older years, she has always had a small garden in the back yard. When she was 81 or 82, she was pushing wooden tomato stakes into the ground (from a standing position) and when they didn’t go in easily or deep enough, she was really pushing hard and leaning into the stake. Well, a stake she was leaning on broke and she fell head-first into the dirt. As she became aware of where she was and more or less what had happened, she realized she couldn’t move . not her arms or legs. She laid there for quite some time and, in her usual calm manner, had decided that she was probably going to die, right there, lying in the garden.
As time went on, she began to feel tingling in her hands and then her feet gradually she was able to move her arms and legs. She tried to get up, but her neck was hurting so she took both hands and held her neck and tried to get up again. Being an older woman, she always wore cotton dresses and even though she was able to get to her knees, the dress was keeping her from walking on her knees or getting up. She started trying to call for help. Her neighbor had a side porch where he stored junk on the side of the house facing my Aunt’s house. She said he NEVER came out on that porch .. but that particular day he did, heard her weak cries for help and came to her aid & called the Rescue Squad. It turns out that she had a broken neck . they put her in a halo brace and the doc told her that it would be a ‘wait and see’ . at her age, he wasn’t sure if her bones would heal on their own or if she would need surgery. She recovered just fine neck healed up, no surgery needed and no adverse affects. February 1 of this year, she turned 92 and is doing fine, if a little forgetful these days.
I guess this illustrates another REALLY good reason to use rebar! :-)
Even though we are having a mild winter here in CNY, I can’t wait to garden.
Wow ... I am so thankful she was okay in the end. What a trooper!
Holy cow. What a story!
LSU is playing Kentucky, but they are falling behind...
For me, tomato cages ended up being nothing more than a perch for the birds that enabled them to ruin ever tomato they could reach. I haven’t had a bit of damage by birds since changing to rebar! My tomato cages always bent and collapsed or fell over. They are okay for smaller varieties of peppers though.
Thank you so much!
Your tomatoes are nearly on top of each other. How do you avoid disease? Isn’t your crop yield low? You must water alot for such dense planting.
Distance between rows?
Late in the season, as the tomato plants died & I cleaned up the mess, I took the cages and used them on my Hungarian Wax Pepper plants and some green bell pepper plants. They needed the support - a couple of them were almost lying over on the ground. I’ll make sure any peppers I plant this year have support from the get-go.
Great post JADB! Tomatoes are what I focus my garden on and this is good info! We are now in Marshall, Tx and got that same gully washer you got last night. That front really dropped the temps here too. We were at 75 yesterday and in the fifties today. I have located a fairly sunny spot for my garden and should get plenty of morning and early afternoon sun. The property we are on has 21 pine trees on it and shade is a big problem but might be a blessing if we get a hot summer with little rain.
We picked up our rental truck Tuesday morning and started packing and finished Wed at noon. Then drove the 362 miles to Marshall. We arrived here at 8pm. Started unpacking the truck yesterday and finished up just before those big rains blew through here. We just got back from turning the truck in over in Longview. We are a couple of tired puppies.
What do you recommend?
40 inches. The landscape fabric is 48", which gives perfect overlap.
Our local Corpus Christi, Tx weatherman, Dale Nelson, grows super tomatoes.
There are two Tomato formulas.
One formula for sandy soil and one for clay soil. The first time you use the tomato formula use the “Original” formula no matter what type of soil you have.
Original Formula / Sandy Soil
1 cup 10-20-10 (1-2-1 ratio) fertilizer
1/4 cup super phosphate
1/2 cup gypsum
2 cups cow manure
Dig a hole and mix ingredients. Then, add regular dirt on top of formula before placing tomato plant in hole. Otherwise, formula will burn the roots of the plant. Don’t let formula touch the roots when they are first planted. Let the plant grow into the formula. Water regularly. Stand back and watch them grow! Best varieties are Sonny, Bingo, Carnival, Heatwave, Celebrity, Big Boy, Better Boy and President. Best cherry tomatoes to use are small Fry and Cherry Grande. Everything needed is available at any local nursery.
Caution: Please be aware that excessive use of phosphorus in our clay soil over a long period of time can be non beneficial to your plants.
1 Cup 21-0-0 (1-0-0 Ratio) Ammonium Sulphate
3/4 Cup Gypsum
2 Cups Cow Manure
Mix these ingredients together with existing garden soil and plant one tomato plant per hole mixture.
*Most clay soils in this area already have too much super phosphate, which tends to stay in the soil for a long period of time. The local nursery people tell me, the best way to correct this is by adding ammonium sulphate which is 21-0-0.
Y'all get some rest and stay in touch as you get all settled in. What does Cashmere think of her new home?
Wow, amazing.. guess I only have one question: where did you get that stuff you’re calling ‘dirt’ that you planted in?
:) We live on one huge slab of limestone in Centex. We hire trucks to go scout out dirt and bring it to us. Doesn’t seem to like us much, seems to prefer washing into the lake..
Thank you for that information. Interesting and I’ll definitely look into it.