Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cherry Tomato Seedling in the Ground

One of my Sungold Cherry Tomato Seedling has grown tall enough that I decided to transplant it into the ground today.

Unfortunately, my other Cherry Tomato Seedlings are much further behind. I had a problem germinating seeds this year (see this blog entry) because I made a mistake of not warming my seed starting container to a high enough temperature to induce the seeds to germinate.

This is a week later than I had transplanted seedlings last year (see this blog entry). I think this is because it has been a lot colder and wetter than it was in February last year.

I transplanted the Sungold Cherry Tomato seedling into the 2 feet x 4 feet Raised Bed that I built last year (see this blog entry)

This Raised Bed is big enough to grow 2 Cherry Tomato plants.

Last October, at the end of the Cherry Tomato growing season, I pulled out all of the roots.

Then, I put in a combination of Soybean meal and steer manure (see this blog entry). This mixture has had over 4 months to compost.

I dug up some soil this morning and was pleased to see a lot of earthworms (see picture to the right). This is a very good sign that the natural fertilizer that I put in the ground is being turned into nutrients that the Cherry Tomato plants can use.

Last year, I also purchased 6 Texas Tomato Cages ( see this blog entry)

The Texas Tomato Cages worked very well. With the 2 feet extensions that I bought, the cages ended up being 8 feet tall. This was much taller than my previous Tomato cages (about 4 feet tall) and was strong enough to support the Cherry Tomato plants.

The Cherry Tomato plants were able to keep growing and growing and growing. I had my biggest yield of Cherry Tomatoes ever last year (see this blog entry)

The nice thing about the Texas Tomato Cages is that they fold nicely for storage. I put the Texas Tomato Cages away last October.

Today, just prior to transplanting the seedling, I put the Texas Tomato Cages back in the Raised Bed (see picture to the right).

One of the things I always do prior to transplanting a seedling is to cover the planting hole with Fish Bone Meal.

Fish Bone Meal is very high in phosphorous, which is an essential element that enables plants to produce flowers. Phosphorous moves in the ground very slowly, at a rate of 1/8th of an inch per year. So by placing Fish Bone Meal in the planting hole, I ensure that the Cherry Tomato plants have enough phosphorous to produce a lot of fruit.

Providing Fish Bone Meal when transplanting and composting Soybean Meal and manure in the winter are the only fertilizers that I use.

The picture to the right shows the bottom of the seedling after I had popped it out of the container.

See how the roots are starting to curl around the edges of the container. This is the right time to transplant the seedling. If I wait too long, the roots will curl around and cover the inside of the container and make it hard for the plant to get enough nutrients.

This picture shows the Sungold Cherry Tomato seedling after I had transplanted it the ground.

If the plant grows at the same rate as the ones from last year, I should have Cherry Tomatoes ready to eat by the end of May (see this blog entry)


  1. Hi So Cal Gardener,
    You might remember that I started my tomato plants a few weeks after you. Well, mine are getting close to being ready to transplant into the ground too. I have my seedlings still under lights near a large south facing window. They're doing great! I work long hours and I am not home during the day to start the process of hardening them off. I know that you put your seedlings outside some time ago. My dilema is how to get the seedlings hardened off if I only have Sat/Sun to work with. Any suggestions? I was thinking of putting them out with a shade cloth over them. But, I am so worried that I will lose them after all this hard work.

    Happy gardening,

  2. The two things to worry about when hardening off plants are the leaves of the plants do not get burned by the strength of the Sun's rays and the cold at night does not harm the plant.

    For the Sun, I would put the plants out before you go to work in an area that gets partial sun. You can then progressively move the plants to different areas that get more and more Sun during the day until you reach the place where the you are going to transplant the plants.

    For the cold, bring the plants in at night when you come home from work. The weather is mild enough at night that a few hours of cold at night or in the early morning will not hurt the plants.

  3. Hi SoCal Gardener,
    Thanks for your response. I'll try it! I don't have very many options. I know you and I have similar weather conditions, so, I guess the seedlings are ready to start going outside. We've just been having some weird weather, cold, warm, hot, rainy, warm, then cold again.

    I think your idea "before you go to work in an area that gets partial sun" makes the most sense for me. San Clemente is near the coast and it is not getting THAT cold at night anymore.

    I just dread coming home and finding all my plants wilted because we had a surprise warm day. I am thinking of investing in a little hot house so I won't have to do this as much next year. Going from "lights only" in the garage to daylight seems too much for seedlings. I know you start under lights. What are your thoughts? Wouldn't a small hot house be more expedient?


  4. Hi there,

    How are the plants you've transplanted outdoors handling this el nino weather we're having right now?

    I'm in Oceanside (north San Diego County coastal) and getting a ton of rain and wind and not a lot of sun, so I'm nervous about transplanting right now. Some of my pepper seedlings are ready to go but I might be able to just up-pot them. What are your thoughts?


  5. I would not invest in a hot house. Usually the weather in Southern California is not this cold or wet.

    You need to gradually convert the seedlings from the Grow Lights to natural sunlight. That is why finding a place with partial sun is the best. That way the plants are only exposed to the sun for a few hours during the day.