The seedlings you purchased at Gregory Ware’s Spring Tomato Plant Sale have been carefully grown using only organic inputs. They have been grown in full, all-day sun, not in a greenhouse, so they have been exposed to the weather and are as acclimated as any plant can be.
Very small seedlings are about four weeks old and are just large enough to be successfully transplanted into your garden or containers. Statistically in Maricopa County there is a chance of killing frosts and freezes until the middle of March, so be prepared to cover young plants on cold nights.
How to plant:
- These starts can go into a garden now, or they can be held for a week to 10 days with no adverse effects. If you choose to wait to plant, keep the plants outdoors in full sun and be attentive to watering needs. Plants in peat pots will need water daily. Water the plants early enough in the day to allow water on the leaves to evaporate before sundown because we leaves overnight can encourage leaf diseases.
- Peat pots are made of wood fiber and peat moss and are biodegradable. The plant roots will grow through the pot and into the soil. Do not remove the plant from the pot. If you do, it is more than likely to kill the plant. Avoid fracturing the root ball.
- Plant so that no part of the peat pot is above the ground. Carefully cut or tear the lip of the pot off so the edge is below the soil lever in the pot and then plant pot and all. It is not necessary nor do we advise poking holes in the peat pot or removing the bottom.
- Once planted, your seedlings could need water daily until they are well rooted. You can not over water with any one watering. You can, however, keep the soil overly wet by watering too frequently. When the temperatures are cool, it is easy to keep a plant too wet which will cause the roots to rot.
- Sometimes young plants will wilt early in the morning as the sun is coming up. Don’t fret, they usually perk up within a few hours.
- The soil in the peat pot is nutrient rich and should provide enough nutrients to get your plants off to a good start. Begin fertilizing on a regular schedule once the plants have been in the ground for two weeks.
- We recommend using organic fertilizers. By their nature they are naturally slow release and less likely to burn during hot weather.
- Plants in pots should be fertilized every three to four weeks. Use a liquid fertilizer (fish emulsion is a good choice) or dry granular fertilizer which is labeled for use on potted plants.
- Most plants in the ground should be fertilized every four to six weeks. It is more economical to use a dry granular fertilizer for in-ground plantings, however you could use a liquid.
- Note: When using any fertilizer be sure to follow the application rate listed on the package: More is NOT better.
As always, you are always welcome to be in touch with questions, comments, photos of your plants. Happy tomato gardening!