This is an entry in this month’s contest “How To Grow Tomatoes; Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials”. A big reason for this contest is to have a living resource of information we can all reference in the future. Be sure to rate this article – your vote is important!
Whether or not you grow from seed in the late winter, tomato starts can get a little tall and spindly before it seems the right time to transplant.
That’s fine. Strip leaves off the long stem, leaving a nice bouquet at the top (please pluck flowers and any fruit also -first order of business is roots!) Then dig a shallow trench, 3-4 inches deep. If you can dig a little deeper and refill with finished compost, all the better! Then turn a hose in the hole and soak it till the water stands. Un-pot the start and lay it horizontal in the trench, being sure to break up any tangled root-mass.
Take a strip of newsprint (b&w is better than color!) about 8″ long and 2-3″ wide. Wrap the paper around the stem in a gradual spiral, covering 3-4 inches of stem near the bouquet of leaves.
Now, GENTLY bend the wrapped section so the stem goes from horizontal to almost vertical. DONT INJURE THE STEM! Fill in dirt, ending up with about 1″ of newsprint above ground level, with a long horizontal section for extra root growth and the wrapped stem emerging nearly vertical with no leaves dragging in the dirt (if they are , pluck them after.)
Then, water the transplant(s) in thoroughly, so the whole area is completely soaked. The newsprint will guard against any cut-worms that may be present – nothing worse than coming out in the morning to see your new transplants felled as if by a logger! If it’s hot sunny weather, shade the starts with boxes, pots, whatever, for a day or 2, being careful to provide ventilation. Same at night if it’s still cold.
I used to take old windows and create a cold frame around the tomatoes for early season growth – they also saved me a time or two from early June hail -while the neighbors had theirs beaten to nubs, I had full bushy plants! If you do that be sure they have ventilation on sunny days!
We are giving away five prizes this month! Winners get to pick one of the following; a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set, or a copy of the “Alternatives To Dentists” video set, or 3 months of free membership in the Core Community. If you want to enter this month’s contest click here: http://growyourowngroceries.org/contribute-here/