Potting up the Tomatoes

It seems when I get around to the potting up stage that Spring really is on the doorstep. I realize that it is technically spring right now… And this year it certainly feels like Spring now.. but this is Alberta, and we could get 2 feet of snow tomorrow if someone really made Mother Nature angry. Bottom line… Its not safe to plant many things outside just yet.

Inside however, my seedlings are starting to take over. Despite completely scaling back on the amount of planting I have done this year, I still have a very full windowsill.

This year, I have only grown 24 tomato plants. AND I’m not even keeping them all. Some of them are going to my mom and to my best friend. Which is really a mutually beneficial situation. They get strong healthy tomato plants, and I get the satisfaction of being able to put seeds in the soil and start gardening early, without the guilt of “where the hell am I going to put this plant?”

I am potting them all up into home-made newspaper pots… Partly because it is free, compostable and easy, and partly because I don’t have enough pots for ALL the things. The other great thing about newspaper pots, is you can make them whatever size you want, so I can get some more height in my tomato pots than a traditional black plastic pot.

Place the tomato deeper than it was planted before. It will grow roots out of the stem, and help to anchor itself into the soil. Just be sure to remove any leaves before you hide them under soil, as it can help introduce disease into the plant. (You can see in the photo above how the stem is trying to root itself.

Once they are in their new homes, I firm the soil around them a little (not much, just to keep everything where it should be). and I tend to top-water as needed for the first week or so. Then only bottom watering unless the newspaper starts to get too dry. I top water because I start them off in the peat pellets, and I believe this helps keep the peat more moist, helping the roots to expand out into their new space. If I pot them up a second time (or started in soil to begin with), I will only top water once, just to help the soil fill in any big air pockets I may have left.

One last tip: I tend to stake them with bamboo skewers as I am relying on a mostly East facing window for their light and they tend to get a bit leggy. The skewers just help keep them in their own spaces. I just gently tie them with a cotton butcher twine.    

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