Transplanting Seedlings

Today I started the transplant process for the tomato babies!

The key for seedlings in my experience is not to put them in direct light as soon as they emerge from the soil. Instead put them under a florescent light then they don’t get leggy. I just use a plain old florescent tube light but if you can afford the fancy grow lights go for it!

These tomato seedlings have been up for about 3 weeks and they are ready for transplant because their second set of leaves are forming. I am trying to do all of this on the cheap so I came up with using the cardboard boxes that I have access to instead of using expensive peat pots to transplant the seedlings into.

I cut the box so it is about 3 inches deep and for drainage, I cut holes in the bottom of the box. Make sure to wet the soil thoroughly ahead of time to prevent dry pockets. I used my kitchen sink sprayer to moisten the soil in a large bowl.

After spreading part of the soil in the bottom of the box I started to loosen the seedlings from their cramped container. Yes, I re-purposed sour cream and cool whip containers (don’t judge lol).

When separating the plants take care not to break their necks. Only lift the plants by the leaves and not the stem. If you break a leaf it’s not a big deal but if you break its neck, the plant is a goner. Loosen the soil at the base of each plant with a spoon or even your fingers and very gently guide the plant and root out by the leaf.

I placed the seedling in a pre-formed hole in the soil and then back filled the soil burying it right up to its neck. That’s right… bury the stem because it will create a stronger plant and along that buried stem roots will form. Be sure to pat the seedling in firmly so no air pockets form under the soil and there is good root to soil contact.

Water well. I use a squeeze bottle so I don’t hit the plants and knock them over with too much force. Now you can put them in a sunny window and water when the soil seems to need it, every 3 or 4 days.

Watch them grow super fast now. I always say a tomato plant has taken root and is growing strong when the stem starts to turn light purple. You’ll see.

These tomato plants are Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, an heirloom and there are 48 of them. I definitely don’t need 48 so when the time is right I’ll be giving some away.

See you in a few weeks for an update. 🙂 -MM

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