A Black Thumb’s Guide to Growing Tomatoes Part 2 – Transplanting the Seedlings
Ok guys here it is, Part 2 of my three part series on becoming a little bit sustainable and growing your own tomatoes. In case you missed it, you can check out Part 1 – Planting From Seeds to get the full story!
Have you had a go at planting some seedlings? How are they going so far?
I’ll keep it short and sweet today! Obviously if you only planted your seedlings last week you’ll still be a little bit away from this stage of the process…but it never hurts to be prepared!
Transplanting the seedlings
You will need:
Transplant pots – one for each seedling. I chose some of these from Bunnings (I love Bunnings, can’t you tell?). You want to make sure they have good drainage holes at the bottom (we’ll get to that bit in a minute).
More soil, enough to fill each pot. You can definitely use the same type as I mentioned in my previous post.
Some plant starter just to give these babies a little boost.
Some aluminium foil (straight from the kitchen is fine!)
When the plants reach between 2 and 4 inches tall, it is time to transplant them to larger pots. Dig around the base of each seedling with a spoon to scoop it out of the egg carton, without ruining the roots. If it’s quite a warm day you can transplant them outside, however you don’t want them to be out of the soil for too long as this can be bad for them.
You want to be incredibly careful not to squash or tear the roots as you re-pot them. Make sure that you hold the plant by the stem just above the root ball, this is the easiest way to control the plant without stressing the roots.
This is the cool part – when you are re-potting them, plant them deep into the pots. You will see lots of fine, hair-like growths on the stems – these turn into a root system when planted in soil. Nifty huh? You want to plant them so that when full, the soil in the pot comes to around an inch or so below the top leaves. Water them nicely. I added some liquid fertiliser at this point to give them the help they needed to get through the stress of replanting.
Return them to a sunny inside spot. To make my plants into mini self-waterers I wrapped some tinfoil around the base of each pot. This is easier than trying to cram them all onto a baking tray or two! It also means you can spread them around the sunny spots in the house as the get bigger.
They will absorb a lot of water, so you will need to water them quite frequently – pretty much whenever they look like they’re getting a bit dry. Obviously the weather controls how quickly this will happen. As I transplanted mine during winter, it was only every day or so that they needed watering, but as they grow they will need it more frequently – sometimes twice a day even.
They will grow very quickly from this stage onwards – when they start to look like they might topple over, you will need to stake them. This can easily be done with some wooden skewers and zip ties (or rubber bands if zip ties are lacking!).
And that’s it! That’s transplanting in a nutshell. Your plants will grow happily inside like this forever, however may need to be transplanted again into larger pots if they outgrow their old ones. If however, like me, you wish the change them from inside to outside pots, you will need to be very careful and weather them appropriately – I’ll cover that in next week’s post – The Final Transplant!
Until then black thumbs!