Sunday, March 18, 2007

Early Tomatoes for Green Thumb Sunday!

My goal is to have extra early ripe tomatoes by July 1st!

I planted Early Girl Tomato seeds in cell packs back in February and then transplanted them to peat pots. They are looking pretty good now.

They now need to be potted up again to a larger pot. Each time I transplant them, I bury the stem all the way to the first set of leaves. This way extra roots grow from what was the stem. Here is what the seedling looks like now compared to the first day I transplanted it.

These seedlings didn't start out as well as they are now. They germinated alright, but then we had a cold spell near 0 degrees and my basement got pretty cold. The seedlings still looked good from a distance, but upon closer inspection I noticed that the underside of the leaves were purple.

This has happened to my broccoli plants outdoors in the past when it was too cold, so I was familiar with it. Leaves turn purple when there is a phosphorus dificency in the soil or when the plant can not take up phosphorus. When soil gets cold the phosphorus in the soil gets "locked up", meaning it is not available to the plant at all until the soil warms back up.

Since my tomato seedlings were still inside, I had complete control over their soil and its temperature. I suppose I could have heated the plants and soil, but instead I decided to go ahead and transplant them up, using warm soiless mix and warm water. The tomatoes responded well, the outside temperatures and my basement warmed up, and now my plants look healthy as can be. They are enjoying being part of the cool season veggies, sitting in the flat beside my broccoli and lettuce seedlings.

There is more to be done than just transplanting to enjoy early ripe tomatoes. I will be warming the bed they will go in with black plastic, and will have to fashion something that can be covered with clear plastic after they get planted outdoors in April (about a month earlier than my main season tomatoes).

I will post more about that when the time comes. As for now, I am just enjoying my growing plants and dreaming of eating that first organic garden fresh home grown tomato - before the July 4th holiday! That is if I have a little luck and if I really do have a green thumb!

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Crafty Gardener ...

Happy Green Thumb Sunday. Your tomatoes look very healthy. Bet you can't wait to taste the first one.

Gotta Garden

Well done! Look how great they look! I will be cheering for you to get those early tomatoes! I still haven't even started some seeds...I must get going!

Katina Mooneyham

I had this happen to my tomatoes last year. I ordered plants from a place and they came a bit early. But I had to get them out quite soon after, transplanting them about a week after they came. But then it was too early and we got some last cold weather in. I cut off the bottom of some green two liter bottles and put them over the tomatoes at night. That seemed to help them. I only lost a few but they turned purple. For awhile I thought I would lose them all but they survived to give me a nice abundance of tomatoes.


Good for you - your tomatoes look very healthy. Last year I ordered tomatoes online - I couldn't find any Sun Gold locally - but ordered them and enjoyed them.

I am so excited that what appears to be spring is here


Great job. It looks like you may have tomatoes by May! My tomatoes are still in their seed packets. I had better get them in some dirt this weekend.

Your post is giving me a craving for a tomato sandwich. Delicious!


I second the tomato sandwich idea!

Thanks for the compliments on the tomato seedlings but the real test is if I can keep them protected when I kick them out into the cold, cruel April weather!

We shall see.

Petunia's Gardener

Ohhh... I just noticed my little seedlings in the garage are getting a little purple, and came back here to see again what you did about it. I thought it might stay warm enough in the garage. But, they also need to be potted as I can see some roots. I'll try potting them and then move one to the house to see it is temperature or just needing soil/food.

A posse ad esse

Looks like your well on your way. Have you just begun square foot gardening? I have been doing it for a couple of years, and if I can say one thing about it it's that it is The Way to garden. I assume that you will be trellising these 'maters. That's definitely the way to go.
Good luck. I'll check back for sure!


I had always used raised beds and French Intensive Gardening techniques before I read Square Foot Gardening. Mel explains his Square Foot Gardening so simply and precisely that it IS the way to go.

His new improved book is even better than the original even.

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