The Hectaro Lagrimoso grow houses were overflowing this week as our tomato plants took off. I needed to make room for more plants so I distributed many of my precious tomato plants to good homes. (Peppers = slow & not ready yet.)
There are a million websites that will tell you how to plant tomatoes, like this one or this one. But for those who have better things to do, here's a short summary of what to do with my babies:
1. Don't put them outside yet. I swear, do NOT do it or I will forever ban you from my list of suitable homes. Wait until it's warm. No earlier than Mother's Day, but if you can wait until Memorial Day, even better. The plants will not grow any faster if you put them outside, and you might even stunt their growth. I relearn this lesson every year.
2. Keep seedlings in a sunny place like a windowsill, or next to a sliding glass door.They need as much sun as possible. (I keep grow lights on 14-16 hours/day!) When the stem starts to grow towards the sun, turn them around.
If it is an especially sunny, warm day, feel free to temporarily put them outside. I move mine to the deck. But you have to bring them back in at night! Put them in partial shade the first few times they have go outside.
3. Water them, but not too much. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
4. If your containers start to disintegrate or the plants just get too darn big for their peat pot, transplant into a larger container, but leave them indoors. If they get to be 10" tall and it's not yet warm enough, you'll have to transplant them into a larger pot (at least 4-6", but the bigger the better).
Curious what varieties you have? I actually remembered to label the plants this year, so you can look them up by using the search box here or find them elsewhere on the internet.
Go ahead and start preparing their outdoor homes. Turn the soil, add fertilizer if needed, buy and put out tomato cages and stakes, etc. (But do NOT put your plants out. I will mock you publicly if I catch you.) If you want to build some raised beds, now's the time. Each plant needs about a 3 foot x 3 foot space at minimum.
If you are growing in containers (pots), get the LARGEST pots you can find. Add all new potting soil because in such a tiny home they will need all the help they can get. I like Costco's Miracle Gro Moisture Mix. You don't have to water it quite as often, and at Costco you can get a huge bag for about $11.
You should definitely cage & stake plants in pots. Remember containers dry out fast and you will need to water almost every day, so make sure a hose can reach wherever you put your containers.
This concludes today's lesson. As we get closer to super-sunny-fun-time, I will provide more instructions for you to ignore.