Monday, February 13, 2006

Gardening question When to plant tomatoes indoors

To grow healthy tomato seedlings, plant seeds no more than 12 weeks
before you plan on putting them into the garden - and that early
only if you CAN transplant into gallon-size pots.

Three transplants are needed in 12 weeks - 1) from seed tray into 2"
pots, then prune leaves when they overlpa with other plants 2) in
about 3 weeks transplant into 4" pots, and prune twice when leaves

3) If you still have weeks before being able to put the plants
safely into the garden, when the leaves overlap again, transplant
into gallon-size containers.

When the plants are 12" tall, insert a small-diameter stake next to
the stem, being careful not to destroy roots. Tie the plant to the
stake, to prevent the plant from falling over.

Use the same potting material for each transplant: recommended
clean material includes peatmoss, perlite, sawdust, and vermiculite
(last choice), and sand. The sand should be 25-30% by volume.

Apply Pre-Plant and Weekly Feed mixes 1 1/2 oz and 3/4 oz per cubic
foot of mix, and water every time with the dilute mix of 1 ounce
weekly feed per 3 gallons of water.

Give your plants maximum light! This must be 16-18 hours daily of
growlights 1" or closer to the plants.

As soon as possible, put your plants outside in direct sunlight -
even for a few hours each day. If they have been grown in
greenhoouse light they can be "hardened off" in direct sunlight in
only two or three days. If grow-lights have been used you may need
to be a little slower.

The cool temperatures will be harder on the plants than direct
sunlight, so protect against large temperature variations. Anything
below 60 degrees will shock them, so wait til it's warm outside
before taking them out.

And putting them into cold soil is tougher on them than sunlight
also. Light is LIFE to plants - it's cold that is trouble, for the
tender ones especially.

Plant with the entire root ball intact - a little deeper than in the
container. Don't try to put your roots a foot deep, so as to cover
the entire stem. If you've grown a sturdy stem by pruning, feeding,
and lots of light, they'll be fine. Do stake them immediately.

Feed immediately after transplanting with 8 ounces of 34-0-0 - or
1`2 ounces of 21-0-0 per 30' of row. That's 1/2 tablespoon per
foot, or 1 teaspoon per plant of 34-0-0 and half again that much of
21-0-0. Water it in immediately.

After 3 days, begin feeding weekly with Weekly Feed.


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