It’s been quite a while since I reported on Tommy’s progress so I thought it was time I tried to catch up. He’s been busy!
On May 14 Tommy was moved to his final home in the garden. Earlier I had installed stakes for all the tomato plants and sowed buckwheat as a spring cover crop. The buckwheat didn’t do so well because the weather turned cool again as soon as I planted. Still, some came up so I now know what it looks like for future reference. Anyway, here’s how I transplant tomatoes:
Start with a sturdy plant you’ve either started from seed yourself or purchased from a local grower or friend. I’ve read that you’re actually better off with a shorter, sturdier plant than an impressively tall one. My plants got a bit taller than I would have liked because I started some of them too early and I even ended up transplanting them a couple weeks before I expected to because the weather was so nice. Thank you, Global Climate Change!
Next, I dug a hole a few inches from the stake. A deep one. Most plants you buy or grow for your vegetable or perennial garden should be planted in the ground at the same level they were at in the pot. Not so with tomatoes. If you pull off some of the bottom leaves and put the plant in the ground deeper, it will grow roots all along the buried section of stem and make for a stronger plant. Tommy was probably a good eighteen inches tall at this point so I buried about another six inches of stem. Alternatively you can also dig a horizontal or slanted hole and lay the plant down but I like to have the initial roots deep.
I dug the hole even a little deeper than I wanted it to finally be and put a big handful of compost in the bottom. Then I watered the hole. That’s right, I watered the hole. Think about it. Where are Tommy’s roots going to be when he goes in there? And when he’s all good and planted how long do you think I’d have to water to get the soil down around those roots wet?
Next I gently removed Tommy from his pot and placed him in the hole.
I backfilled with the soil I removed to make the hole with out stomping, tamping , or even patting. I want rainfall and irrigation water to infiltrate down and around and into that soil and leaving it a little on the uncompressed side facilitates that, so I let it settle on its own. Halfway through the backfilling I watered again just for the heck of it.
When I’d finished returning all the soil to the hole I tried something new. Last year I had some issues with blossom end rot. It looks like a disease, but is actually caused by a deficiency in calcium uptake. It’s probably more pH related than the actual presence of nutrient in the ground but I threw some crushed oyster shell around Tommy and lightly scratched it into the soil. I don’t really expect it to help all that much, but I’ve got pounds of it on hand from my old Chinese-slipper-orchid-growing days.
Next time things get a little kinky with young Tommy and his friends.