May 14, 2009

San Marzano Seedlings

This past weekend a friend from Vermont, who seems preternaturally gifted in the gardening department, gave me 4 lovely san marzano tomato seedlings that she started on the windowsill of her office. Seriously, she hasn't been gardening that long and she seems so good at it!

I was thrilled to get them and yet, almost as soon as they were handed over, I felt panicked.

I had ridden my bike to bowling (yes, I'm on a bowling team, but this is about gardening so...moving right along) so I had to have a friend take the seedlings in her car for me. By the time I got them, they were HOT and a little bit wilty from the stress of the car.

I brought them inside, but I wasn't really sure what to do next because these little guys were born indoors and I didn't really want to stress them by taking them straight outside. I knew they needed sun, but I had already decided that my sunlamps were making my seedlings too hot so I couldn't risk putting them under those either. My friend told me that they should be transplanted pretty soon, like in the next few days. All I really have are some leftover plastic soda bottles to replant them into and not that many at that.

So here's what I've done:

The first night I gave them a little water and left the plants on the windowsill and kept them there all of the next day. I knew this wasn't enough sun, but I didn't want to stress them with the wind and cold of the porch.

The next day I put the existing pot inside one of the soda bottle greenhouses I had made and put this out on the porch during the day. At night I took the whole thing inside and put it back on the windowsill.

The day after that I left it on the windowsill again, because I knew I wouldn't be home that night and I didn't want to risk the plants getting too cold overnight.

When I checked them this morning they looked pretty good. They were upright and a little bit taller, bigger and greener than when I first got them.

So...this morning I replanted 2 seedlings each inside soda bottle greenhouses. Unfortunately I don't have enough bottles to do the whole self watering system like I did with the basil seeds, so I just cut some holes in the bottom for drainage and will need to water regularly. I'm hoping that the plastic cover will be enough protection from the wind and cold. The problem is, the leaves are pressing right up against the plastic which I am guessing is not a good thing. I'm not sure what to do about this because I think without the plastic it could be too cold and windy for the little guys.

So I think the sun and the additional growing room is good. I think the protection from the wind and cold is good and I think the claustrophobia-inducing bottle top is bad.

I'm hoping to slowly get them used to the outside temperatures with the plastic cover and then start removing it (just during the day) until they seem strong enough to manage without it. I still might bring them inside at night if the temps look to be cold.

While I was at it I took my two healthiest looking basil seedlings and transplanted them to larger containers too (picture is at the top). I think I should do this with all of the seedlings that look ok, but I definitely don't have enough plastic bottles and containers for that.

Boston friends...can you help me out? Send me your yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese containers and your 1 and 2 liter soda bottles yearning for a new purpose in life.

I should mention that I planted all of this in the leftover coir that I had already re-hydrated and stuck in a plastic bag on the porch. This isn't potting soil, but I think and hope it's ok.

Stay tuned for more stress inducing adventures. I am picking up my seedlings from Re-Vision House this weekend and will definitely be planting a few things and looking for ways to keep those that are not yet ready to go into the ground protected.

As always, advice in the comments section is enthusiastically encouraged!


Sally said...

I don't have that many containers and untested advice, at best. Can you adjust the height of your lights so that they are farther from your tomatoes? I'm at the same place that you are in as far as figuring out what's best for my tomato seedlings. I think that soon we'll be able to start hardening them, so I wouldn't worry too much about imperfect conditions over the next week or so. Here's a link that might be useful:

Rosemary said...

Interesting post, will be looking forward to see how the tomatoes do.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Your idea of using plastic bottles is very interesting. I'm wondering though about the chemicals in the plastic having an impact on the plants?

By the way, your link to Growers Supply is not working. You should link to instead.


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