Last week I was finally able to find the time to plant the tomatoes! I had started them from seed indoors under plant lights in early April. They were seeded in 6-packs and grew quickly…probably because the plant rack is only a few feet away from the toasty woodstove. After 5 weeks I bumped them up into 4″ pots filled with Quoddy Lobster Compost and put them outside when the weather turned warm to harden them off. It’s important to note that when putting plants outside for the first time, you should put them in dappled sunlight or at least shade them from the strong sunlight from around 10-3:00. A few days in this shaded environment will protect the leaves from scorching (it’s like us going to the beach for the first time without putting sunscreen on). They received their first topdress of Stonington Blend Organic Plant Food after the acclimation period and by planting time they had all grown to just about 15″ tall!
Before I get to the planting part, here’s a tip I’d like to share. I have always buried my tomato plants “up to their chins” so to speak. We all know that when burying any plant, you never cover the stem with soil because it will rot the stem and eventually kill the plant. Tomato plants are the exception to the rule. Roots will actually sprout from the buried portion of the stem and are responsible for transporting much needed water and nutrients to the growing tip. This method gives you much healthier plants and protects them from drought.
Now for the dirty work… digging the planting holes. The holes were dug deep enough to accommodate the root ball and most of the stem. I used about half of the soil from the hole to make a ridge of soil around the perimeter of the hole (this will create a reservoir area when watering and also stop the top-dressed fertilizer from washing away). Then it was time to amend the planting hole with the “Holy Trinity” … Quoddy Lobster compost, crushed eggshells (the added calcium helps to prevent blossom end rot) and Organic Kelp Meal (which contains dozens of much needed micro-nutrients!). Really, talk about a spoiled existence, huh?
The rest was easy. After mixing the amendments with the remaining garden soil in the hole, the plants were set in the hole, the bottom 1/2 of the foliage was snipped off, the hole was backfilled and a generous amount of Stonington Blend Organic Plant Food was scattered on top of the soil.
Now it’s time to watch, water and wait for that coveted first ripe, juicy tomato … still warm from the garden!