April 2008


 

The husband of a friend of mine is a serious gardener with years and years of experience, and I always use his transplant method for tomatoes.  This formala is like a Cook’s Illustrated recipe – just do exactly what it says, don’t deviate from the plan, and you’ll get a great result.

Peter’s Perfect Tomatoes

When you transplant into your garden do the following:

  1. Dig a hole as deep as the seedling height and twice as wide as widest set of leaves.
  2. Fill the hole 1/2 way with a 50/50 combination of peat moss and composted manure.
  3. Water the mix and make a thick mud.  The water should contain a transplant fertilizer (organic or chemical – your choice)
  4. Plant the seedling in the mud and bury it past the original seedling leaves.  The tomato will sprout new roots from the buried stem.
  5. Water as required for the rest of the summer but do not fertilize again – the tomato has everything it will need for the entire season.

Your tomatoes will go gangbusters – trust me!  Heirlooms in particular really like it.

Last summer my husband built raised beds out of Trex, the deck material.  They turned out really well, and a few days ago I posted this pic on The Easy Garden Forum.  If you click over to there in the  course of a few pages my husband and I answer questions about how they were built.

Seed Starting has just about finished up; we have a metal shelf unit set up in the garage with two sets of grow lights on chains.  The seed trays with covers are on heat mats 24/7 until germination, then the covers are removed and the mat turned off because the ideal temp for seedling is about 60-70 degrees F.

The mats speed up germination by increasing the soil temps about 10-20 degrees F above the air temperature, and a thermomater helps me keep tabs on the temps (see white disc on the right).   Here we have heirloom tomatoes on the top left, already sprouted, and on the top right are 3 types of basils, 2 types of peppers & some jalapeno chilis. Bottom right are cantaloupe, summer squash and watermelon and an ornamental annual flower called Castor Bean (var. “Carmencita”).  The lights are on timers for 18 hours a day so that by the time a seedling is ready to go into the ground its nice and stocky.  

Last month the early spring, cold hardy seeds were started (kale, lettuce, swiss chard, broccoli de rabb and scallions) and those have already been transplanted outside.  Those seeds will germinate in temps as low as 50-60 degree F, so with the heat mats I was able to start seeds even though the air temperature during March was in the low 40’s.  The raab is already in the garden, and swiss chard (below) will be ready to transplant in another few days.