Saturday, April 28

Thursday, April 19

grow: tomato seedling, amish paste 2012

My dad always manage to grow the most ridiculously successful and bountiful tomato plants, despite lack of pruning, fertilizing, and general maintenance. It's so ridiculous that though he leaves his tomato plants uncovered until early October, and while gets soaked from several days of rain, his tomatoes never get blight. His neighbours' plants get blight, but his does not. We don't know how this happens, because from everything I've read and been taught his tomatoes should get blight. I don't question his methods, I just try to imitate them now.

His favourite cultivar is Amish Paste. He loves the plant but hates starting them, so I've been assigned to that task. This year, I started all my seedlings in diy newspaper pots:
It's alive!

On DIY Newspaper Pots

There are plenty of tutorials online on how to make these if you're interested. I started all my warm weather seedlings in newspaper pots–tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and basil. I don't think I'll use them again. Yes, they are cheap (free supply at the building lobby) and are easy to make, but they wick the water away from the growing medium. I tried to remedy this by keeping the plastic dome on my seedlings and simply propping it open for air circulation. The soil remained moist, but it was too moist for too long. After a few days ugly white fuzz appeared! It's fuzzy and just slowly covered the top of the soil. A Google search and several gardening forums confirmed that while unsettling to look at, it is harmless and is caused by the lack of airflow in constantly moist environment for seedlings.

Tomato Roots and Their Super Powers

Deeper and more extensive root system mean sturdier plants that can easily extract water and nutrients from a larger area. In other words, tomatoes do better if they have deep roots.  Luckily they have a wonderful ability (super power, really) to grow roots along their stem (given the right conditions). This means that when it is transplanted to a bigger pot or to the garden, it should always be buried to its neck.

Repotting a tomato seedling. Bury the main stem to get a more extensive root system.

Two weeks after:

See the fuzz along the stems? All potential roots!

This plant has since been transplanted into a larger pot. (I broke off the two lower stems and buried it to its neck again.) It is now hardening off in the patio greenhouse. But more on that later.

Do you start your plants from seed? Or you you buy seedlings instead?

Tuesday, April 17

when days are long and skies are gray...

I look at this photo of Beans. It makes me smile and realize that whatever is bothering me now, likely won't a year from today.
Beans asleep.

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