Back on April 9th I put the hoop house up, and I let it sit around with nothing in it until yesterday, April 19th, when I set most of the tomatoes into it for the WHOLE day which is a crazy thing to do (sunburn! cripsy!) but these plants are so hard already they’ll be fine even if they lose a leaf or two.
I brought them in for the night, and then brought them out again around noon today.
I decided to think about spacing and which ones should go in this bed (I have many more tomato plants than I’m actually going to grow here).
Then I just decided to go for it. Why the hell not? With two exceptions I planted one grafted and one not-grafted specimen (heh) of each variety. San Marzano got one extra grafted plant. And I only planted one (not grafted) Sungold because omg you only need one. For your whole block!
So here we are, right on time. It *feels* really early to be putting tomatoes out but I always do it at the end of April. So maybe it’s a week earlier than normal? This is definitely the shortest-ever hardening-off period. Two days. I attribute that to two things: 1) they’ve been in the garage where night temps have been getting regularly into the low 50’s since I took the light off 24-hour and let the timer turn it off at night (it’s been about 2 weeks of that) and 2) they didn’t really get sunburn yesterday. Must be the brightness of that T-5? I have the citrus out in direct sun as well, and they’re not burning either after life under T-5 all winter.
I do use wood chips in my vegetable garden, I know, isn’t that weird? No one does that.
The above pic illustrates how I deal with the wood chips. The trowel marks the spot where I’m going to dig a hole for the plant. The big cleared-off bare soil area is where I’m going to put the pile of soil from the hole. Once the plant is in then I put the wood chips back over wherever there is bare soil. Some people don’t like wood chips in vegetable beds because they don’t like having to move chips around to plant things, or they don’t like it when the chips inevitably mix with the soil, or whatever. I don’t care about any of that because the chips are the best mulch I’ve ever found for vegetables. The trickiest thing is when I have to pull a big plant up by the roots – that can certainly make chips and soil mix together more than I want. But I just do it carefully and actually, most of the time I just cut the plant at soil level and leave the roots in place (really big cabbages may be an exception).
See how kind of dark and curled and hard those plants look? You can’t tell from the photo but these plants are STIFF. This is all just because I changed everything up a lot this year in the indoor seed-starting area and I’m still getting the hang of it. Different lights, different container medium, different fertilizer, and on top of that grafting tomatoes. Talk about unscientific experiments!
Here’s the scraggly band of remaining tomato plants – and this is not all of them. The spindly one with the yellow leaves is a rootstock plant. I just want to see what that’s like so I’m going to let it flower and fruit for the hell of it.
And in addition to that I have about 8 more inside, which I’m only *just* starting to harden off – they are very soft plants so the hardening off needs to be really careful. Of these remaining plants, 4 will go to Carol on Wichita Ave, 8 will go to my sister and hopefully the rest will find homes somewhere.
We have some exceptional weather coming up so I’m going to try to get as many plants in the ground as possible this weekend. Wish me luck!