It’s now been approximately 8 weeks since I planted the seeds for all my tomato plants for the year and they are all flourishing, growing rapidly and making me realize that I should have just followed the guidelines and planted the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before last frost rather than 12 weeks, like I did. All the different varieties that I planted, being San Marzano, Polish Linguisa, Blondkopfchen, Moonglow, Siberian Red and Yellow Pear, the San Marzanos are leading the pack in growth. They’re growing way faster than I expected they would indoors, being around 15cm and taller already with three or four secondary branches of leaves. I haven’t even fertilized them yet, as I’m afraid I’ll be overgrown with tomato plants if I do! Despite the problem of waiting for the weather to finally be warm enough to harden off the plants and move them outdoors, they all seem to be enjoying the lighting set up that I have for them in our basement.
I expanded our light stand to include a second double T8 florescent light, giving us two double lights total, or 4 T8 bulbs. Our automatic timer comes on at 7:00am and turns off at 9:30pm, giving the plants a total of 14.5 hours of light every day. I water them as necessary, usually around once every two or three days, by pouring water into their tray for them to soak up from below while giving them some water from the top down as well. To water the plants I’ve been using this seedling watering sprayer than I purchased from Lee Valley Tools, which seems to be gentle enough to not disturb the soil while the gentle root systems are expanding.
About 2 to 3 weeks ago (at 5 to 6 weeks after planting seeds) I started moving the seedlings out of their smaller seed trays to bigger pots. I originally intended to use the paper pots that I posted about on this blog, but upon closer inspection, those pots simply would not have been deep enough to allow me to bury the root ball and stem of each tomato plant when transferring. I’ll have to try those some other time, perhaps for starting seeds in next year. Instead of the paper pots, I used red Solo cups, which a poked holes in the bottom for to allow for drainage. They seem to be a perfect size for a second pot and will be reusable next year when I do this all over again. Also, it’s cheaper to buy a sleeve of 20 or so cups than it is to buy seedling pots from a garden centre, so overall they worked out well.
So, the next step for me will be to maintain and fertilize these little guys while they continue to grow, hopefully keeping them in these pots for as long as possible and moving them directly outdoors afterwards. Unfortunately, it would seem that we’re still around 5 or 6 weeks away from last frost in Muskoka