If you're like me and planted your tomatoes from seed a few weeks ago you may start to notice the roots beginning to move beyond your original potting medium. I used the peat pellet system for starting our peppers and tomatoes and noticed recently that the roots are extending beyond the pellets. What does this mean? Time to get a bigger pot! I'm using a technique that I'm calling sequential deep planting. Basically I'm taking the best method for planting tomatoes, deep planting, and adding an intermediate step to it. It's pretty simple, just dig a hole deep enough to cover all of the tomato plant except for the top couple leaves. Because tomatoes are vine plants they have the ability to grow roots all along the stem. When you place the tomato stem under the soil it will grow roots. More roots mean the tomato can take in more water and will establish itself faster in the garden.
Sequential deep planting is potting the tomatoes up into larger pots in between seed growth stages and garden planting stages. You may already do this but I think it's worth talking about. Here's how I did it.
I used peat pots. You can get other mediums some of which are made of other biodegradable materials, like cow manure, but these were easy and convenient. Newspapers or cardboard would probably work as well.
Then I took my tomatoes, some of which were 6-8 inches high, and had a short photo op. They like to pose. They are pretty aren't they?
I put the tomato plants right into the empty peat pots. You can put a little dirt in the bottom if you want, either way should be fine. Right now I want to generate as many roots along the stem as possible and shorten the length of the stem. Shorter, more compact plants with more roots grow better than their long and legging counterparts. This is especially true if you are buying transplants from the store. Definitely avoid the leggy ones. (You can trench plant those if that's all the store has.)
Then I filled up the little pots with soil and made sure that the tomato plants stayed as centered in the pots as possible.
After filling them up I added water and put them in our garage greenhouse to help harden them off. In a couple weeks I should be able to plant them outside with nice sized root balls ready to grow. That's when I'll plant them deep, for the second time.
Labels: vegetable garden, vegetables