This week we started tomatoes in the greenhouse. These guys are going to be planted to the field around May 28th after the last full moon in May. In zone 5B, we don’t often have frost that late in the month but a couple near brushes have made me a little less cocky with planting early.
And frost isn’t the only thing that can give tomatoes a tough time. Cold soil and damp cool overcast days are not the conditions that tropical plants like tomatoes enjoy establishing themselves. Waiting till conditions are better often results with a plant growing quicker and better than a plant that has faces a lot of early challenges.
Sure, you can use row cover and perforated plastic tunnels to create a warmer micro-climate, but these ressources aren’t cheap and I’d rather do something else with my sunny Spring hours than wrestle with remay.
We seed tomatoes (and peppers and eggplants) in open flats full of potting soil. We seed 5 rows of roughly 65 seeds/row.
We mark the rows with this handy tool my co-farmer Renée built. It is designed to mark 7 rows in wide styrofoam trays for onions or leeks but we make it work in a 5-row situation
These peppers and early tomatoes are doing fine.
These seedlings are quite tight in their small tray – at this size they’ve just about depleted the nutrients in the potting mix. Potting them up will give them a shot of new soil and fertility. If you wait too long, the plants might be stunted and compromise future production.
Emily separates the little plants …
and delicately (but quickly and efficiently!) snugs them into the tray. We usually pot up nightshades once into 50 cell trays (10×5 cells). We sometimes pot up tunnel tomatoes into 3″ pots but don’t do this for field tomatoes.
In other news, Crop Planning for Organic Vegetable Growers is out!!! My co farmer Fred and I have been working on this book for a year and a half and are thrilled to see it published. It is available through the Canadian Organic Growers website though Fred and I do have copies also.
Also, last weekend the Eastern Canadian Organic Seed Growers Network had another great event. In one of the sessions, I applied some of the profit analysis featured in the crop planning book to seed production. I will try to write that up next week.