Tomato Seedlings 101

So I’m in the green house today transplanting Tomatoes now it’s just thinking to myself why not make a little how-to on this because this is probably the one place where I think most new gardeners make the most mistakes is either transplanting or planting tomatoes and so since the method is pretty much the same whether you’re going into pots or going into the ground I figured I’d just cover some basics so the first thing I think is really important to know is that tomatoes have something called adventitious roots and what that means is that all of these little hairs that you see right here along the stem if they are to touch the soil they basically become a root structure and this is important to know because when you’re planting a tomato you’re actually going to plant it deeper than its currently planted.

So all of these tomatoes in this flat right here in front of me were started from seed about a month and a half two months ago and they’ve gotten really tall and are becoming really nice strong plants but we want to pot them up so that they can continue to grow as you can see this is starting to get root found and what that means is that the roots start circling around the soil that they’re growing in eventually given long enough in the same container they will circle in circle and circle until they choke out the plant and then it’s just not able to provide enough nutrients to the plant it can’t grow much larger than that space and eventually wither and die without giving you fruit we don’t want this so what we’re going to do is I’m taking some two inch pots that we had sitting around we’ve labeled them with just standard masking tape and a sharpie marker and what I’ll do is I will put maybe a half inch to an inch of soil in the bottom of this it’s just a little bit of soil now because this isn’t actually root bound I’m not going to tease the roots too much if it was really tight what you’d want to do is pull these out just a little to get them to stop circling and start growing outwards so I’ll do it a little bit at the base but it’s not really that necessary if you had a really root bound plant and you’re putting it in the ground definitely tease these roots out a little but try not to break them you can dunk them in a little bit of water and just fluff them out of the it but as long as they’re not circling really tight you should be good to go so we’re going to stick this in this putt that just has about half inch inch of soil and as you can see now the top of the plant is well below the line of the container and then we just put soil all the way around the edge.

We have a compost mix that we use here in the greenhouse that we’ve made with compost from the farm and we’re just going to pile that compost mix all the way up this plant to basically the top of this container and I like to overfill the containers a little if I’m using a dry mix that means as we just go all the way up to the top because when it gets watered it will all compress down now I don’t like to top water tomatoes especially when we start working with compost and planting them because there’s a lot of pathogens that can live in the soil and a lot of them tend to breed on the leaves of the plant so when you water from the top you’re risking some sorts of pathogens bacteria splashing up from the soil onto your leaves and causing all kinds of havoc for your plants I prefer instead to fill something like this nursery flat it’s just a standard plastic growing tray you can get at most hardware stores and so I’ll fill that just enough with water at the bottom and basically here at a top to the bottom you will notice these guys are really wet because I watered them yesterday this way but the roots will grow down because they’re looking for water and it’s going to suck up through the soil because this little acts like a sponge so super easy way to water them you mitigate the risk of any pathogens and bacteria and it all works out better for everyone in the long run so this guy’s good to go he’s all planted up in his little seedling pot and as you can see he’s a lot lower on the soil line now than his brother or sister here which is great because that means all of those little fibers like we said before all of the adventitious roots are going to create root structures all throughout the soil and create a much stronger root system for the siblings so when we put it in the garden it’s already really it’s got a really strong root system.

I can show you with one of these these are the seedlings I got it love apple farms last weekend and see if this is a good one you can see this was probably done in a similar fashion and the root system has taken over this entire square now so you basically have two times the volume of roots moving them into a pot like this before you move them into the garden as you would moving them from a cell path like this into the garden which means you’re going to get a better start and it’s going to allow that tomato to take up a lot more nutrients them a lot more water and eventually just grow a lot faster and better so I have a few more of these guys to do one of the things that happens when you’re starting seeds starting from seed and occasionally when you buy tomatoes from say like a big box hardware store instead of a nursery that is making sure there’s only one plant in each cell is that you’ll get multiple plants in a cell such as this guy and so you can see there’s a little baby one here and a big one here now another mistake that new gardeners make growing from seed is trying to tease and separate these plants away from each other I don’t recommend this because I think that it really is detrimental to both root structures and you’re going to end up with weaker plants so what we do is we cut out the weaker baby plant and that way the big one is able to take over the entire cell and grow accordingly now if you’re really sad about this baby plant instead of trying to pull its roots apart what you can do because of the adventitious roots is stick that little piece of cut plant directly in some soil and press it down just a little bit and make sure it’s nice and damp and I’d say about 50/50 chance of that taking root it’s not foolproof but your odds are pretty good so the same thing with this one just going to put a little bit of soil in the bottom of this.

I’ve pre-labeled this entire rows worth of plots um just makes it go a little faster when we’re doing 100 or so transplants and then I’m just going to drop this guy in there it has roots are good I’m gonna drop him in and then just put a little bit of soil right around the edge make sure it gets down in those crevices and then a little bit more all the way up to the top I think that that pretty much covers everything I was thinking about in terms of growing and transplanting Tomatoes and I guess just the most important thing to remember is get as much of that stem and soil as possible because it’s only going to benefit you and your plant as always if you have any questions comments suggestions hit me up in the comments below if there’s something that you have questions about that’s a different sort of plant let me know because I probably can answer them and subscribe and like this if you like it okay I think that’s it for this time next time guys bye

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