Tonight, I transplanted all my tomato seedlings, and the ‘golden guardian’ marigold seedlings, into garden bed number four. I had moved most of the seedlings to the cold frame two weeks ago. I usually plant the early tomatoes first, then follow with the other tomatoes, but I am planting later than usual this year so there doesn’t seem to be much point to staggering the planting times like that.
I had prepared the garden bed over the weekend, first turning over the soil with a garden fork. I then used a rake to pull the soil into a berm around the edge of the bed to keep water in the bed. I added gypsum to provide calcium for the tomatoes, raked that into the top layer of the soil, then added fertilizer and raked that in as well. Finally, I covered the bed with landscape fabric.
Tonight, after determining where the peppers and eggplants will go as well as the tomatoes, I cut an ‘X’ in the landscape fabric where each tomato group would be planted. I dug a hole and placed the tomato plants in it. You can plant tomatoes deeper than they were growing in their pots and they will then grow roots along the stem, but I planted my tomatoes at about the same depth as they were in the pots.
I also planted marigolds in a couple of spots in the middle of the tomatoes. I only had one pot of marigolds, but I pulled the root ball apart to get two clumps of plants. These ‘golden guardian’ marigolds are supposed to suppress harmful nematodes that feed on tomatoes.
I watered all the plants several times with water that had soluble fertilizer added to it.
Finally, I moved water jackets so they surround and protect the tomato seedlings. The water jackets absorb heat during the day and release it at night, protecting the seedlings from large temperature changes. They also filter sunlight, which could be too strong initially for the seedlings. The red color is supposed to encourage the plants to grow strong, stocky stems rather than getting too tall. I filled the water jackets a few days ago so the water had a chance to warm up.
The early tomatoes were too large to fit in the cold frame, so I have been moving them outside every day and back into the house at night. They are also too large for the water jackets, so I put a tomato cage around them and pinned some plastic bird seed bags around the cage to provide a little protection. The marigolds will just have to survive without any such help.
I plant my tomatoes in groups, so there are actually two to five plants growing in each water jacket. The number varies depending on how many seeds I had of each variety and how many germinated.
For more details on transplanting tomatoes, including several photos, see this post from last year.
The photo is rather low quality because I took it at dusk.
I also watered the peas tonight. We haven’t had much rain lately, and the garden beds are getting dry again.