One Way to Plant Tomatoes

Posted on by linnea

A few weeks back was time for tomato planting in New South Wales. Heading into mid-November, the danger of frost had just passed and this southern-hemisphere Spring was finally warming up. Since my track record raising tomatoes is pretty shoddy, I was excited to get some tips from the Milkwood market gardener Michael Hewins. The Milkwood crew started their tomatoes from seed back in September- below is a picture of the little beauties all laid out, ready for planting.
First step is to trim off the lower leaves of the plant as close to the stem as possible. If you are doing a large scale planting, it is important to sterilize the knife or scissors you are using with alcohol as you go, since it is possible to transfer diseases from plant to plant. The lower leaves of the tomato are cut off in order to bury the plant into the ground all the way to its upper leaves. Once underground, the stem of the tomato will grow roots, creating a sturdier plant.Before planting, Michael submerges the lower half of the potted seedling in a mixture of fish emulsion + sea kelp diluted with water. This gives the seedling a surge of nutrients to help it overcome the shock of transplanting. Hold the pot under the liquid until all bubbles have come to the surface, guaranteeing that the roots are fully saturated.

Tomatoes are vigorous seedlings and their little roots will often be pressed up against the side of the pot by the time they’re ready to transplant. Gently loosen the bottom of the root ball to encourage the roots to grow out into their new home.
Here is a (mostly) happy tomato seedling! Sometimes the leaves discolor slightly as the plants get over transplant shock. The bed was prepared by incorporating cow manure and compost into the soil, providing a good dose of nutrients to get the seedlings growing. After just a few weeks these tiny tomato plants have doubled in size, and soon it’ll be time to prune and trellis. More details on that shortly!

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