The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

May 20, 2015

Thoughts about tomato planting

Filed under: Transplants,Vegetables — bob @ 9:00 am

I’m sure someone somewhere has done a survey on what is the most popular vegetable grown in home gardens. My guess is that it would be tomatoes.

In virtually every vegetable garden I’ve been in and on every deck or patio with a planter, I’ve seen tomato plants.

Since we are past the average frost-free date in southeastern Michigan, it’s now safe to plant tomatoes outside without any frost protection. That’s not to say that a frost won’t happen this spring, but it is very unlikely. So now is the time to get those tomatoes planted.

Beginning gardeners should keep in mind that although tomato seeds are available, tomatoes are grown in the garden using young seedlings called transplants — plants that were raised to plantable size in a greenhouse or under grow lights. Tomato seeds sown directly into the garden at this point may not have enough time to produce tomatoes before the growing season ends.

If you are buying transplants, the best ones are those that are short, compact and leafy. This early in the spring most transplants fit that description but later on as they grow older, they will eventually become spindly and leggy. However, even leggy plants are usable, if that’s all that is available.

Over time, through natural selection, tomato plants have developed the ability to grow roots anywhere along their stems. These types of roots are called “adventitious roots”. ¬†Adventitious roots help tomato plants survive during times of stress when their main roots would be damaged, such as during a wet spring when soil becomes water logged or flooded. The adventitious roots in that case would form and replace the damaged roots allowing the plant to continue to grow.

By setting tomato transplants deep into the soil, we can use adventitious roots to our advantage. Roots will quickly form all along the buried part of a tomato stem.

A leggy transplant, instead of sticking up above the soil surface, should be set on an angle into the garden soil so that its stem is covered with soil up to the first set of leaves.

Even well-shaped tomato transplants can be placed in the soil lower than the level they were growing in their pot or flat container.

Tomato plants are tougher than you think. Often plants purchased on-line or from a catalog will be shipped without a pot or even soil, they’re just tied together in a bundle and shipped in a box or envelop. These plants recover nicely if you take them out of their mailing container and transplant them soon after they arrive.

We still have time to plant tomatoes. Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the date when many gardeners plant tomatoes. Depending on the season, many times those later tomatoes end up producing fruit almost as soon as those planted earlier.

Bob

 

 

 

 

 

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