Reader question

My friend Seana sent this email yesterday. First, I am SO excited that little Preslie is growing her own tomatoes. Preslie lives with her Mama and Daddy in Texas…so nice that she and Hope are still connected even though there are too many miles between us. Second, so proud of her Mama and Daddy for investing in a little project that will likely leave Preslie more inclined to eat her veggies!!!

Here’s Seana’s email:

So you inspired me with all of your indoor planting, and when Kev and I were at Lowe’s we saw all these adorable Sesame Street indoor green houses for kiddos; Preslie picked out the Elmo cherry tomato’s and we got them planted up. 5 days later they are growing like crazy and I thought “Wait a minute…what the heck do I do with these things once they start sprouting?!” They are in tiny little pots…like the size of shot glasses…actually a little smaller even. We have 6 little pots with about 5 seeds in each and boy are they doing good! Any advice that you have would be helpful 🙂 Do I need some kind of stick for them to climb?? When do I plant them into something bigger??? And I totally understand the excitement about seeing your seeds sprout. From the morning to the evening they grow so much! It is quite amazing. This is my first attempt at growing anything edible as well..can you tell? Although I was more fly by the seat of my pants and didn’t do much research.

Perfect time to be asking these questions! I consulted my container gardening book and here’s what I found out:

1. Now is the time to move them into a larger pot. And after planting mine in rather small temporary pots my advice is to skip right to the planter you intend to keep them in. The full-grown plants will need a minimum soil dept of 12 inches and will likely grow to a height of 2-5 feet so select a pot that will accommodate this depth as well as a width of about 1 1/2 to 2 feet across.

2. If the weather is warm enough and you think you’re past your last frost, which you might be if you’re in Texas like Seana is, go ahead and move your planter out into the sunniest part of your yard or patio. Tomatoes need loads of sunlight and water to match but be careful not to drown them. Imagine a big gulp of water that would leave you feeling satisfied but not so full you think you’re tummy would burst.

If the weather is not warm enough through the night (above 55 degrees) but you’re seeing some warm temperatures throughout the day, you can place your planter on a caddy like this one that would allow you to move it back and forth until the temperature is consistently warm through the evening. Initially, you can also cut the bottom out of a milk jug to cover your plants in the evening…think of it as a green electric blanket for the little darlings!

The other option is finding a nice decorative planter that goes with your decor and growing them in the sunniest spot in your home. The caddy would still be nice with this option because you can move it to clean underneath and would allow you to move it outside should you want to later on.

3. The plants will need to be staked. Because tomatoes are a vine, if planted directly in the ground they would just creep along and take up loads of space. But for the sake of space and because yours will be grown in a planter,  give them a stake and they will grow up. You can use anything from a piece of lumber lying around to a substantial tree trimming to the fancier versions that can be purchased at a home goods store. Another place to check would be your local Craigslist…you never know what someone might be giving away from a home remodel that might do the trick. And strips of pantyhose are an inexpensive solution to tying the vine to the stake as it climbs.

4. When you begin your transplant, make sure to leave the soil as intact as possible when removing them from the containers they’re currently in. A little ruffling of the soil at the bottom and your pods can go directly into the soil. The book recommends planting your stem deep in the soil to promote good root growth.

5. As your plants go from seedling to first true leaves, which look like these, it’s now time to select the front-runner. You’ll just leave one little plant per container…and if you’re anything like me this will be the worst part…oh the anxiety!!! The rest you can either pot in small planters to give away or discard.

6. A little local home and garden store here, High Country Home & Garden, sells an all-natural, organic plant food for veggies. A similar product will likely be available at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot.  By feeding your plant once a week you’ll give it an extra boost.

7. Harvest time!!! Depending on the tomato variety you purchased, your plant will reach maturity between 55-75 days…day one being the day you transplanted, not the day you started your seeds. The smaller the variety you selected, the sooner you’ll see ripe tomatoes.

Way to go Seana for embarking on the world of edible container gardening!!! It’s such a fun mommy/kiddo project that allows you to teach your little people so many lovely lessons…not to mention the fun of seeing things grow!

*If anyone else has tips for myself or Seana please let me know…my very novice gardening brain is always looking for more info! Questions about your gardening attempt, feel free to send ’em my way and I’d be happy to consult my little gardening manual. OR, if you’re gardening venture is starting up please send pics!!! I’d love to see how you’re growing your garden and memories with your own little people!!!

**Also, there’s still time to enter My Messy Life’s first giveaway. Container gardening is just one way to get all-natural, yucky pesticide free produce in your home. For a slew of other ideas, Kathy Loidolt’s “The Shopper’s Guide to Healthy Living” is a go-to resource. Click here to read my interview with Kathy and comment at the bottom of the post for an opportunity to win. Deadline is tomorrow at 10 PM MST…good luck and happy greenin’!!!


3 Responses to “Reader question”

  1. Susan Says:

    I would like to recommend “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It” by John Seymour. It is wonderful. Granted, not many of us have an acre of land to put a cow on and make our own cheese and butter, but aside from that there are wonderful tips, by plant, for gardening. I don’t know if it would apply as much to container gardening, although it may because there are helpful hints and facts listed by plant. It is my gardening bible!!

  2. Seana Says:

    Thanks so much Stacey!! Here’s hoping our little tomato’s make it!

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