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Monday, April 29, 2013

Supporting Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow fast and quite quickly become tall. When they grow indoors by a window they tend to turn to the sunlight which can cause that they bend and fall down because they are too heavy to keep standing in this uncomfortable position. It happened to a few of my plants. I used to turn them around to keep them in the straight position but it did not work in all cases and some of them collapsed anyway. This is an example of my laying tomato:



The longer time a tomato plant lays down on the ground, the more difficult is to lift it up again. I have read that one can actually replant a tomato in this position but the plant should be planted deeper then usually so the whole laying part stays around 10 cm underground. That helps to develop a stronger plant. I used to have such curvy tomatoes in the previous years but never replanted them this way. I must try this trick when I transplant my tomatoes to big pots.  We will see if they get stronger than the other plants. 

The part under the red line is going to be planted underground

I will write about it more when I transplant them in May. 

I decided to prevent my plants from further collapse. I used shishkebab sticks to support every plant. I pushed sticks in every pot and tied tomatoes to them with yarn. The tomatoes actually lean on their sticks so the yarn is only additional help in case the plants change position and form. 


Tomatoes with sticks


I´m glad that my tomatoes started growing fast after planting them in the pots filled with soil because it means they are healthy. On the other hand they are not going to be too tall by the middle of May ("thanks" to keeping them too long in the propagation cubes) when I move them to the greenhouse. It is not too easy to replant a big but still very fragile plant. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Greenhouse

After I had realized that growing tomatoes outdoors in Sweden is not the best idea I decided to buy a greenhouse. I did it next spring. There are many kinds of greenhouses - from very advanced and big ones to very simple models. It might be tempting to have a big glass greenhouse which can be used also as a romantic room in the garden but not every one can or should have one. Not me. First of all I wanted something small that would not take too much space in the garden. I did not need tones of tomatoes because they were supposed to be eaten only by my family (mostly by me who is a tomatmonster). I just wanted something practical where I would be able to squeeze minimum 10-15 plants. I bought a simple model with a window in the roof. It is ca 2 m long and 1,5 m wide. The greenhouse is made of polycarbonate plastic which makes it childproof. A glass greenhouse would maybe look better but it could be easily broken by playing children. Plastic solves this potential problem. My polycarbonate greenhouse has also a UV protection layer. It blocks ultraviolet rays that can damage plants but let the "good" sunlight in. The window does not open automatically like in advanced models but it is not a problem to open it manually. Frankly speaking I keep it open almost the whole summer. I close it occasionally when it rains cats and dogs. Last year some of my tomatoes grew so tall that some of them "looked out" of that window.

The greenhouse arrived in a box. First, my husband (who is big and strong) made a foundation of concrete to make it stable and not able to fly in the wind. Then we put all parts together. When it was ready my husband made a path of concrete plates. It was very important because a natural path on the ground could easily become muddy. The concrete path stays dry and clean.

It is finally spring and my tomatoes have lots of sun. They started growing faster after planting them in little pots filled with soil. I will transplant them to big pots in the greenhouse in the middle of May. The picture below was taken last summer.

My concrete path and tomatoes in pots



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Transplanting Tomatoes To Larger Pots

My little tomatoes did not feel comfortable in their tiny cubes. They developed long roots but their growth stopped. It was high time to transplant them to bigger pots. I remember that my last year´s plants  were bigger at the same age. I will rather use some sawing soil mix next time than propagation cubes. 

I transplanted my plants yesterday evening when it was only 2 °C degrees (35,6 F) so much too cold to keep my tomatoes outside. I did not want to conduct the whole procedure inside so first I prepared pots outside. I started with putting labels with number on the pots. The numbers correspond with the tomatoes sorts I planted. Before sawing my tomatoes I had prepared a numbered list of their sorts. When they get fruits I will know which is which. After putting the numbers labels on the pots I filled them with a special planting soil mix. It contained a natural fertilizer. I did not prepare the mix myself but bought it ready in my gardener´s store. When my pots were ready then I took the first tomato plant outside and planted it quickly before it got too cold. I had to be very careful because their roots were long I did not want to damage them too much as well as I had to make sure that the roots ends are in the right position and go down in the soil. Then I put the ready tomato pot back inside and placed it on a plastic tray. Every pot has a hole in the bottom to remove excess water from it. Therefore I needed the tray. I used it instead of many regular pot plates. I repeated this procedure with every tomato. Now I have 24 pots on 3 trays. After transplanting tomatoes to the new pots I carried them to the upstairs hall where they have very good conditions thanks to roof windows that let lots of the sunlight in. Tomatoes really need it. At the end I watered them with mild temperature water. They survived the whole process and went to sleep because it became dark:) Plants don´t like to be transplanted in a sunny hot weather because it makes them tired. They need some time to regenerate. I planted my tomatoes in the evening so the had the whole night to rest:) 

Today they look OK. I hope they feel good and will start growing fast. I plan to transplant them to very big pots around May, 15th.   
Plant ready to go to the new pot


My tomatoes today. Still alive;)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Water Tomatoes;)

My tomatoes survived 5 sunny days without watering thanks to my tray-in-tray solution. They were just dipped in water all the time. When I came yesterday it was high time to refill the water. I noticed also that their roots were hanging below the tray bottom like some seaweed. It happened because they had grown very long during those 5 days and went out through holes that are in the bottom the the tray. I pulled them up carefully and put all the roots in the cubes tray. Some of roots ends broke and I hope it did not cause shock to the plants and does not affect their growth. So far they look strong. 

I am impressed how fast seeds sprout in the propagation cubes and how fast roots grow. It happens much faster than in a regular soil. On the other hand though the whole process needs too much attention. Growing plants in regular pots with soil maybe is not so effective and it takes longer time for seeds to sprout but they really need only regular watering (not too often).

Now I try to keep the water level not too high so it only reaches the bottom of the tray. The cubes absorb water very well so they stay moist. 



Long roots of the plants


Tomatoes one month after sowing

Next step will be transplanting my tomatoes to bigger pots. I am looking forward to doing it.