March 22, 2013 by suchandsuchfarm
Ok, the greenhouse isn’t really leaking. We just like wordplay. In fact, the greenhouse is looking pretty awesome these days. Zach has been kicking some plant ass! He just finished the first round of up-potting tomatoes, peppers, kale and leeks. Ahh.. seed babies. They grow up so fast!
We started the seeds in 6 pack cells for initial germination. When they first emerge, the seedlings show their cotyledons (their first leaves as a seedling). To be even more botanically nerdy, tomatoes are dicots, meaning that they show two cotyledon leaves. As these neat little dicots develop and grow to be about 3-4 inches tall, they begin to show their first true leaves. Some of them even started developing their second set of true leaves. This is the point at which we transferred them to larger 4 inch pots. The tomato seedlings have these tiny little hairs on their stem called root hairs that will develop into roots. Those are really important so when we up potted them, we made sure to plant them deep enough to cover them up.
A quick note on potting soil. Zach researched many, many types of organic potting soil that were readily available to us. A good potting soil should give your plants every element that it needs (water, nutrients, aeration and support) with the exception of light. Although we’re not certified organic, it’s very important that we use organic or at least all-natural products and practices in the greenhouse and garden. So when we were choosing potting soil, the “ingredients” were very important to us. We went with Fox Farm Ocean Forest organic potting soil. It’s a blend of earthworm castings, Pacific Northwest sea-going crab and fish meal, composted forest humus, sandy loam and peat moss. It’s a little on the pricier side but a good potting soil is the basis for healthy, productive plants.
From here on out, the tomatoes will go through a different watering/fertilizing regimen. Instead of a light water every day, they’ll get a deep water every 2-3 days. They’ll also need a healthy dose NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). NPK to plants is like carbohydrates, fats and protein to human. Plants can take in nutrients and minerals two ways; through the roots and through the leaves. Once a week they get a fish emulsion fertilizer applied to the soil and roots. Every three weeks they will get a foliar organic fertilizer applied to the underside of the leaves. The nutrients in the foliar fertilizer will be taken in through the stomata. The stomata are mouth like pores found on the underside of the leaves that control gas exchange and help along photosynthesis. Man… 3rd grade science class is really coming in handy these days!
We ended up with 350 tomatoes up-potted seedlings, an overall 84% germination rate. For our first year in the greenhouse, I don’t think that’s too shabby! We’ll be keeping a portion for ourselves and the rest we’ll be able to sell. The first up-potted seedlings are about 4 inches tall and are starting to show their second set of true leaves. These are great starts for people that can keep their tomatoes indoors until they’re ready to go in the ground or be re-potted into larger pots. These first up-potted seedlings will sell for $1. Our second round of up-potted seedlings will be ready for you to transplant into your garden, they will sell for $3. We will also have tomatoes available for you city folk too! If you’re not able to have a backyard garden, we’ll be selling ready-to-go tomato plants in a 5 gallon bucket with it’s own built in trellis for $10. All you need to do is water it and not let it die!
If you’re interested in our first up-potted seedlings, we have seven varieties to choose from:
Cherry tomatoes (Sweet million and Sweeties)
Roma tomatoes (Juliet and Amish Paste)
Slicing tomatoes (New Girl)
Heirloom (Black and Organic Moskvich)
If you’re interested in purchasing these seedlings contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pretty soon we’ll have some pepper and kale starts available for sale!