Yesterday (4/18/10), I finally got rest of the tomatoes potted up. Previously, I had potted up the tomatoes that were in the recycled aluminum tray “flat;” they were potted up into recycled cups and other various containers. Yesterday, I potted up everything in the 72-cell Jiffy tray, which included most of the tomatoes, three peppers, six basil plants, cumin, and cutting celery. Some notes:
- I potted all the Jiffy tray plants up into 18 oz. party cups (like the ubiquitous red cups containing “soda” at college parties). I used a sharp point thingy from one of Jason’s Leatherman-like hand tools and put four drainage holes in the bottom of each.
- I used the Square Foot Gardening soil mix for potting up: 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 sphagnum peat moss.
- As carefully as possible, I ripped the netting off the outside of the Jiffy pellets before planting. This should always be done, as the roots can become bound inside if you don’t.
- I should have potted up earlier (but I already knew that). The plants were getting huge (3 – 5″ tall) and the roots had grown through the netting, so in the process of removing the netting, some roots were removed.
- Despite the netting removal and resulting root loss, potting up the pellets was much easier and less traumatic on the plants than pricking out of flats. I’m certain I want to give soil blocks a go now.
- I put 2-3 seeds in each pellet, and thinned sparingly, so many pellets had at least two healthy plants in them. I made myself thin ruthlessly, as I have neither the time nor the desire to keep every one, so I cut the plants down to one per cell before planting. (I already have twice as many plants as I need, and will need to give and/or sell the rest. Or, as I did last year, compost the balance.) I also removed the cotyledons and buried the stem up to there to encourage more rooting.
- We were out of room under the lights almost before I began, so most of the tomatoes went out into our new unheated hoop house last night. Yes, with a frost warning. The lows predicted were 32-33, so I covered the plants with cardboard boxes inside the hoop house, and inside each box, I placed at least one gallon of hot tap water. I’m pretty sure they’re fine. There just wasn’t room for anything else inside.
- I’m excited to see how the hoop house works for us. We will need to vent every morning, close it up every evening, and water every day, but it will give us more space than the indoor lights can provide. I only wish we could provide supplemental heat for cold nights, and then we could put everything out there. But alas, the hoop house is too far from the house, and there is no electricity out there.
- On peppers: the Klari Baby Cheese Peppers had less than 50% germination. So we only have three plants. I’m disappointed. The rest of the pepper varieties did fine.
- Cumin: planted three cells, 2-4 seeds each, and only one cell survived, with four very delicate, wispy, grass-like plants. Of the other cells, one never sprouted, and the other died (damping off, perhaps?). I carefully separated the four little plants and put two each in two cups. I hope they do well.
- The cutting celery had 100% germination, but grows slowly. I should have started it in Feb, so we’ll see what we get. I thinned to the strongest plant in each of three pots.
I still have the other 60% of the recycled aluminum tray flat to pot up. That’s all of our eggplants, husk cherries, and lots of peppers. It’s time, but I spent so many hours potting up yesterday that I don’t think I’ll do it today.