It has been difficult to post with all the activities around here. We've been on the go repairing and maintaining equipment or structures, researching all things critter related, heading to town to pick up needed materials and working on getting the garden set up. With all the planting and transplanting seedlings into the garden, we've also been starting some of the seeds that germinate very quickly inside. Like cucumbers, squash, melons and pumpkins.
You really don't have to spend a lot of money to get seedlings started. Especially the larger seeds like the ones mentioned above. I have purchased some flats for seed starting but I have also saved those plastic clam-shell containers from store bought strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes or mushrooms. My mom gave me some of those plastic egg containers a couple years ago and I still use them. Just punch a hole in the bottom of each cup with a nail so the excess water can drain out otherwise you'll end up with soggy soil (which will rot your seeds). These plastic containers make wonderful seed starting trays, they are reusable and stack nicely when not in use. If you need containers that are a little larger than your average vegetable can, look into purchasing grow bags. They come collapsed and after use, you can reuse them. A good rinse or wash in a diluted bleach solution and thoroughly dried before storing for the next season. The yellow ones I've used for about 7 years but my parents had purchased them, well.... a long time ago. Probably 30 years ago when they had bought them to start eucalyptus seedlings for wind breaks.
But the most important thing in starting seeds in trays is the soil. A good seed starting soil can really improve your success.
If the weather gets any cooler I'll have to put the seed starts on the seedling heat mat but it had been warm enough to set on the shelves in the sunshine in the greenhouse. So far only the cucumbers are sprouting. Tomorrow I may have to move the others to the heat mat since we are forecasted for several days of overcast and possibly rain. We really could use some good rain showers so no complaints here!
I have had a couple of 'volunteers' that popped up in my existing potted plants in the greenhouse this spring. A bean plant, some kind of squash or pumpkin, buckwheat and possibly an eggplant. I really hate pulling them out and letting them die, so when I pulled the squash plant I damaged the roots pretty good. I then put it in a jar of water. It is rooting, bloomed and I'll transplant it here soon. The buckwheat and the others were pulled an re-potted into cans. You can plant just about anything into a can and transplant it later. Just be sure to punch some holes in the bottom of the can, too.
|Buckwheat in a can|
So let's take a look at transplanting tomatoes. They were getting leggy and starting to yellow so into the ground they go. Chances of getting a frost are still possible but I can always cover them at this time of year. The main problem for us is wind. We get winds in the late evenings/afternoons during the summer when the valleys cool off or when a good storm passes through. With the lack of wind breaks it sure can cause some damage to your plants.
So here's a tip for transplanting tomatoes in windy areas where you cannot put a cover over them that won't end up two counties over. When you dig your hole for your plants, dig it at an angle. Like you are going to let the plant lie on the ground instead of upright. It will greatly reduce the chance of the wind twisting your tomato plant apart. I will also cover the stem of the tomato plant so about 4"-6" of the foliage is exposed. This will cause the stem to set out more roots. (Cut a tomato stem, set it in water and you'll see it set out roots.... a good way to get more plants out of one!) The additional roots will help keep your plants firmly rooted in the ground and keep the wind from uprooting them.
Please note that you would take the seedling to be planted out of the can or grow bag before you put it into the soil. I left the can in place so you could see the angle of the planting better. It looks like it is taking a nap but they are doing quite well and as the plant grows you'll never know that you put the root ball in at an angle. If the wind wobbles the stems loose from their covering of dirt, just pack more dirt on top or add a small rock to hold it in place until roots can start to take hold.
Oh, and don't worry if you break off a piece of the leggy stems you can always put the broken piece into a jar of water and it will take root. Then just transplant later. Tomatoes are a rather forgiving plant to grow.
Hope your gardening adventures are going well! Until next time.....