Disclosure: This post has been compensated by Monsanto Co. and the “Hey Let’s Grow Monsanto Home Garden Program”. All experiences and opinions are mine alone. #HeyLetsGrow
It was time for transplanting this week. But when should one transplant?
Update on My Vegetable Garden
To reiterate, I planted about thirty tomato plants of two varieties in small jiffy pods a couple weeks ago, and now it is time to transplant them. These got a little leggy, due to a problem with the amount of light vs. dark that they got during the first week.
Why a Timer is Important
I cannot impress enough that a timer is essential, especially if you plan to take a short weekend trip away. While I was gone, I left a light on and best I can tell the tomatoes jumped out of the ground sometime during the weekend.
The light was a little too far above the plants; and after they sprouted, they stretched for the light, especially since it stayed on the entire weekend. Not good, as I later learned.
So I dug around my garage until I found an old timer I bought years ago. I set the timer to turn on at 8 am and turn off at midnight, giving the plants 16 hours of Grow light. They began this part of their growing journey a little leggy, but I think I can correct that when I transplant them.
Thinning the Herd
A few days ago, I snipped off all but one plant in each pod, a thinning which made for ten tomato plants. Then I waited for the ten to grow their second set of leaves.
So When Do You Transplant
So that brings me to today. This morning I noticed another set of leaves beginning to form. This is their third set. The first being the seed leaves also called colydon leaves, then the next set called the plants’ true leaves, and now another new set. This means it is time to transplant.
In the past, I collected and have quite a collection of various empty pots from when I earlier brought flowering transplants home from the store, but they needed to be sterilized. So I used the sink in my laundry room to spray Clorox on the little plastic pots, and then I rinsed them very well. This way I know that there can be no fungus or other problems for the delicate transplants.
Next, I mixed half and half of seed starter soil and potting soil. I do not use dirt from my yard. Why add more problems to the process. I mixed the starter soil and potting soil in a bucket.
Placing a thin layer of soil in the bottom of each small pot, I added the pod and plant being careful not to hold the plant by its stem. Its little stem is its spine, its lifeline. If you crush it, it cannot survive. Then I filled the soil all the way to the top of the pot, completely burying the stem of the tomato plant up to its first leaves.
A tomato plant will grow roots from its stem if the stem is covered in soil. Only a little of its stem and its leaves peek out from the soil. Hopefully, this solves the problem of my leggy tomato plants. I’m also careful not to hold the plant by its stem.
Next, I used a water soluble fertilizer and added it to water in my laundry sink, using the package instructions. I bottom watered each of the pots, adding a little to the top to soak it.
After waiting an hour for the plants to soak, I took the pots outside to sit on my potting bench for another hour. This last step begins the “hardening” period. This will get the plants ready for finally planting them in the ground. I made sure they got no direct sunlight, though, the first day.
Thanks, Monsanto! Until now I already had everything I needed, but the bigger pots required more lights. All four are on the timer now.
For the rest of the week, I’ll take the pots outside to sit in the dappled shade underneath a tree lengthening the time each day. An hour at a time at first and increasing daily.
Next week we’ll place everything in the ground! I’m also hardening off the rest of the seedlings as they produce their second set of true leaves. Two varieties of my peppers, though, still have not completely sprouted.