As part of my Big Gardening Adventure where I’m going to reduce my food miles for produce to 0 as often as possible, I’ve chosen three kinds of heirloom tomato seeds to start from seed and then grow using organic means:
• Aunt Ruby’s German Green’s
• Cherokee Purple
All three of these varieties are supposed to mature within 70 to 75 days so if all goes well, I should have a pretty abundant crop of colourful tomatoes to share by the end of July (the line up starts from the left!).
In the past I’ve written that you should start tomato seedlings indoors no more than 6 weeks prior to transplanting the tomato plants to the garden, but I started mine earlier this year due to the crazy extended winter weather. The general concern with starting seeds too soon is that the young plants can become leggy and weak. To prevent that problem, I’m going to transplant my seedlings into larger pots in enough peat moss to help support the bases. We’ll see how it goes.
In the meantime, here are my tips for successfully transplanting and growing tomato seedlings. Print this page or bookmark it so that you can come back to this info later in the spring and summer when you need it.
I’ll be testing my theories as the season progresses. Then, I’ll report back on how things worked out when I followed my own advice (wish me luck and, if humiliation ensues, please be kind):
• Before planting tomato seedlings, work a spadeful of compost into each hole. This should be enough fertilizer to feed the plant for the entire season.
• To help new tomato plants to establish themselves in cool spring temperatures, protect the seedlings by cutting the bases from 2L soda bottles. Place a bottle over each seedling until temperatures become warmer.
• Since hot summer weather can lead to dry soil conditions, be prepared to water tomatoes often during hot spells. Ideally the water used to water tomato plants should be ambient temperature (this is where my rain barrel will come in handy!) since cold water may prevent the roots from developing. Likewise, it’s better to water tomatoes at the base of the stem with a watering can than to use a hose that drenches the whole plant.
• When mature, tomatoes ripen to optimum flavor when grown at temperatures between 13°C and 27°C. As a result, tomatoes must be planted so that the fruit will mature when this temperature range is common in your area.