This past Friday, April 19, all the baby tomato seedlings were transplanted from the germination trays into 2.25 pots where they will stay until we plant them outside. There are 155 total tomato plants.
My main helper, Linda Archibald has been doing this with me for about 4 years and this year Tom Pollard joined us to learn how to do it all. It took us 4 hours to transplant them. Thank you folks! There were 4 tomato no shows which isn’t bad for how many we planted. It is amazing how fast the seedlings grow since it has only been 16 days since we planted seeds.
We use Moonshine potting soil from Agua Fria Nursery to grow them in-amazing stuff as everything grown in takes off really fast. So now they are off the heat mats and still inside under lights that will be 3 inches away from the tops of the tomatoes. I put the lights close so they grow sturdy stems. If you put the lights higher they can get too tall and lanky. As the plants grow, I raise up the lights with them. I will actually have around 28 tomato plants and Linda will have 59! The rest are orders. Looks like it’s going to be a big year for tomatoes for Linda! I hope she buys another freezer to store all that sauce she’s gonna be making! I’m hoping to get them out in early May again this year but Mother Nature will decide when they will go out, not me!
Last evening I planted my tomato seeds-both heirloom and hybrid seeds. I brought out and set up the light boxes and heating mats last week. Before planting my seeds, I always clean the little pots with some bleach water that I use for starting tomato seedlings. It’s important to disinfect the pots because you don’t want your plants to pick up any soil borne diseases. I use about a 10% bleach to water ratio. I use the kitchen sink and try to not get dirt everywhere from the used pots. The trick is to convince your partner that it is ok! Just tell them you are disinfecting the sinks out (which is true)! I picked up the seed starting soil-Metro mix 300 from Agua Fria Nursery last week. It comes in a big bag but you will be planting up into larger containers in a few days after the second set of true leaves appear and besides if you have any left over, you can use it for next year. I’ve bought many seed starting soil mixes (usually at the big box stores) and hate the way the water rolls off of the soil when you first go to use it. With this soil mix (Metro Mix 300) I just plant the tomato seeds about 1/4 inch deep and water it all at once. It saves time and anything that saves time I like!
Metro Mix 300
After I water the seeds, I put them under my lights and on top of a heating mat which is great for warming the soil for the seeds to germinate. I’m starting the tomatoes later this year because last year I started the first week of March and they got too big-about 3-4 feet tall because I couldn’t put them out with the cold spring we had. This year I’m hoping to get them transplanted into the garden around mid April (with protection) weather permitting. Why do I think I might be able to get them in early this year? We are in a La Nina which generally means warmer weather in spring but less rain. By planting them later if I have to, they shouldn’t be as big as last year.