Since I started these little guys 2 months before they can be planted outside they may require transplanting one more time before going in their garden beds. Their roots were just starting to escape the peat pods and most are getting their first true leaves. At this point they begin to use soil nutrients and will appreciate fertilizer and soil amendments. Since they will be growing at my property I decided to use soil from there in the mix for their new pots. I added about 1 part peat per 2 parts soil and mixed in some fish fertilizer (2-2-2) and bone meal (6-9-0) to the mix along with a little lime and a couple of crumbled egg shells. The nitrogen from bone meal is insoluble and will slowly become available to the plants. The nitrogen in the fish fertilizer is mostly soluble and will be available to my seedlings immediately. For those who do not know nitrogen is the first number of the 3 numbers on fertilizer labels. Phosphate is the second number on the label and is very important for baby plants. The fish fertilizer also has potash which is the third number on the label. This nutrient isn’t found in bone meal so it has a 0. Bonemeal does have calcium though, which is not represented in the typical 3 numbers on the label. The bone meal I am using is 7 percent calcium. If tomatoes do not have enough calcium you will have problems with blossom end rot, among other things. The egg shells and lime are also to provide calcium. Lime is also used to lower soil ph. I haven’t taken my soil sample into the Clemson extension office for testing yet but I know it is a bit acidic and so is peat. Still I used it sparingly in the mix. I will get my soil sample in sometime this weeks and once I have the results back I will be amending the area of the future planting beds according to the recomendations from Clemson University.
My propery has a natural layer of peat but I bought some just for starting seeds since the stuff in the bag is nice and clean and digging enough for all of my seed starting needs and cleaning it up enough to use would be a bit more of a chore than I have time for at this point. I would like to invest in enough terracotta to do all of my seed starting and transplanting, or learn more about making soil blocks but for now I am using commercially available seed starter pots that come in a tray. I will be able to reuse them a few times, but eventually these will end up in a landfill. Doint things on a budget require compromise sometimes though and I know it.
I also bought labels you can write on. To save money and have less waste I labeled each group of seedling instead of labeling every plant. I would have just stuck to my lists but with multiple trays I think I would have ended up confusing things.
For now I kept the soil level at the same height as the top of the peat pods. Tomatoes are one of the few plants that you can burry deeper when transplanting, but there is no need for that at this point in things. I am not thinning them yet either because I want to be able to save the thinnings and they are too tender to withstand that much handling at this point in their growth. That’s all for now, unless I give a pecan update before getting ready for work. It will have to be a quick one but I think I just might…