I’m Loving the Botanical Interests Heirloom Plants. If this is the first time you’ve visited my blog, take a moment to visit other postings because I’m giving away free seeds every friday! The donation from Botanical Interests has truly ignited a passion of mine. I want to teach everyone how to grow tomatoes in their own backyard. If you haven’t yet commented on my blog, do so on this or any posting and be registered to win a free packet of Botanical Interests Heirloom Tomato seeds. (as an aside: the company also sells tools, and flower seeds).
I cannot say enough about this company, and the high quality of their product. Thus far, I’m at a 100% germination rate. And, the packages are beautiful. Seriously, check them out before you go anywhere else for seeds.
Here in the south, we’ve passed what we call “indoor seed sprouting time.” However, it is not too late to sow seeds directly into a “bed” in the garden. One only needs an area of loose soil (or a sprinkle of potting soil into a row in the garden), some water, and patience.
Once the seedlings have reached a couple inches in height it is time to replant them into an area where they’ll have more room to grow.
Tip One: lightly water the seedlings before transplanting them, AND, do not dig them all up at once. With the weather turning hot…fast, it is best to transplant a couple, water them, then transplant a few more.
Tip Two: It is wise to pre-dig the holes. Tomatoes should be planted deep. While this method is difficult when planting tiny seedlings, as temperatures rise, tomatoes planted deep in the soil suffer less stress than those planted two inches deep. It will be necessary to scrape excess dirt away from the edges of the hole, as dirt falling into the hole can break delicate plants.
Tip Three: Egg shells provide wonderful organic matter. Rich in calcium (which is one of the primary reasons for blossom end rot), broken shells feed the plants from the moment they’re planted.
Tip Four: Avoid fertilizing newly transplanted plants. Billy and I learned this the hard-way as one-third of his plants died this past week. We had a few 90 degree days which triggered a massive growth spurt. Unfortunately, the roots hadn’t adjusted to the soil. High temps encouraged the roots to plunge deep into the soil where we had applied a generous “handful” of fertilizer. Learn from our painful lesson. Fertilize later, not during transplant.
Tip Five: Water, then cover. After placing the seedling into the hole, gently water the plant, and then add soil. Finish the process with another drink of water. Careful: don’t get water on the leaves, especially if the sun is shining. Droplets of water reflect the sun and can burn leaves.
Tip Six: If I may shamefully endorse another product, ya’ll thank me later, GROW BEST liquid plant food is the best product I’ve ever used on my vegies. Giving the seedlings a light spray from the moment they emerged, and as directed on the instructional literature, the plants responded with thick, healthy stalks which required no hardening-off. And the best thing about GROW BEST is that it is affordable (oh, and it works).
Tip Seven: Teepees. When temperatures rise to above 85 degrees, newly transplanted tomatoes will “die back,” wilt, and look quite pathetic. Prevent this by building newspaper teepees to shade plants during the daytime. The same is done during the “hardening-off” period when temperatures are cool.
As the growing season progresses I welcome your photos and comments. Remember, leave a comment on this or any blog to win free seeds; and keep those hands dirty!
Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of the book In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes.