Depending on the various group, the age at which tomato seedlings are prepared for planting in the open field is 45-50 days for early tomatoes, 55-60 days for medium tomatoes, and at least 70 days for late tomatoes.
Planting tomato seedlings at a young age, their adaptation to new conditions is significantly prolonged, bushes are poorly developed, and resistance to pests and diseases is poor.
However, the success of obtaining a high-quality tomato crop also depends on the careful implementation of the basic rules for growing tomato seedlings in the open field.
Prepare seedlings for sowing
At least 5-6 days before planting (if the seedling is grown in an apartment) you need to harden it (especially for early tomatoes).
Before planting, it is useful to treat tomato seedlings with a preparation that will reduce the stress effect of changing environmental conditions and help the plant to root.
It is important to treat these products exactly according to their instructions.
When to plant tomato seedlings
Regardless of the region, when planting tomato seedlings in the open ground, a 3-4inch (8-10 cm) layer of soil is heated to 50-53°F (10-12°C) (after measuring soil temperatures to make a few days) and to minimize the possibility of returning frost.
In mild climates, it is best to plant tomato seedlings in so-called warm beds or to heat the soil with hot water in advance. To do this, pour 1-2 liters of hot water in each hole 1-1.5 hours before planting and cover with any mulching material when the bed is faced. Only at this point are the seedlings planted.
Based on years of experience of gardeners in different regions of the USA, the following data are available on the date of planting tomato seedlings in the open ground
Pick a Planting Date.
Start tomatoes indoors in seed starting trays or recyclable pots six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area.
In USA plant hardiness zones 8 and 9, start seeds as early as mid-January; in USDA zones 3 or 4, wait until mid-to-late March and early April to start seeds.
Wait two weeks after the last frost date before sowing or transplanting outdoors. Nighttime temperatures should be above 55 degrees F.
Important: For seedlings to acclimate better and not get sunburned, plant during 10 to 12 hours and 15 to 17 hours of the day or in cloudy (but not cool) weather.
How to plant tomato seedlings properly
Tomato seedlings should be planted in accordance with the following requirements.
If tomato seedlings are grown in individual pots of peat soil or other pots, simply place the pots or soil blocks deep into the pits and cover them with soil. The stems are not covered with soil. Maturity is marked by the appearance of new leaves. 2 weeks later, the first dip to stem height is performed.
If tomato seedlings have an open root system, they are planted vertically, without bending the roots, in a pre-prepared, well-watered hole. The plants installed in the center of the hole are gently rolled up and covered.
Two plants can be planted in one hole, placed along the rows (this makes it easier to take care of the plants).
If tomato seedlings are growing too densely, it is easier to plant them diagonally along the row so that subsequent treatment does not damage the root system.
For the first 2-3 days after planting, seedlings can “lie”. This is quite natural. There is no need to do anything about this.
The first watering after planting should not be earlier than 10-12 days (tomatoes do not tolerate high humidity). But in case of very hot and dry weather, the first watering can and should be done earlier.
Which option to choose for growing tomatoes
To grow good tomatoes, it is important to choose the right planting scheme.
On Dhaka plots, where beds are allocated under culture in rotation or in separate wedges, you can use the following planting schemes.
For example, early tomato seedlings me, planted in double rows or simply in one row.
Using a row scheme, i.e. shrubs that do not shade each other (creating conditions for the development of fungal diseases) and do not overgrow (individual shrubs are more difficult to handle in a row), the distance between shrubs is 18-20inch (45-50 cm) and between rows is 23-27inch (60-70 cm).
Using a two-row scheme, the distance between the strips is not less than 27inch (70 cm) For high growth – up to 40inch (1 m), 20-23inch (50-60 cm) in the strips between the rows, and 18-23inch (45-60 cm) in the shrubs between the rows, depending on the variety group.
Immediately after planting, I place arcs on which I fix mulching material for temperature and whether deviations from the norm. I sprinkle sawdust between the rows, which helps to protect the fruit from contamination.
Medium-ripening tomatoes and hybrids
Due to the formation of taller bushes, I place seedlings in rows of 20-25inch (50-65 cm). Between the rows, I leave at least 23-27inch (60-70 cm). Near the bushes, I install nails at the height of the future plants for garters – about 30-35inch (80-90 cm).
Late maturing tomatoes and uncertain varieties
I planted this group of tomato seedlings using the row method. I leave at least one row of 27-30inch (70-80cm) between bushes and inch (1-1.5m) between rows.
Tomatoes can grow to 80inch (2m) or more, so immediately after planting, I pull 2-3 rows of wire or thick twine over the stakes (to form a trellis). The bush forms in 2 stems and is constantly monitored for timely tying.
In cooler areas, with the onset of cold temperatures in late summer, this option allows you to cover the rows with straw, remove the plants neatly from the trellis and place them along the rows.
Installation of arcs with mulching material. In this case, lying tomato varieties will continue to form and ripen fruit in the native bushes, and therefore – you will get a longer harvest to use fresh forms of fruit.
How to protect tomato seedlings from returning frost
If a cold snap is expected during the night and morning hours, and tomato seedlings have been planted, use temporary mulch until stable positive temperatures arrive.
If planted tomato seedlings are frozen, cut the stems and leaves into healthy tissue and spray the remaining tissue with a warm solution of low concentrations of boron, “growth stimulant”, iodine, and “Zircon“. This method (if the roots are not affected) stimulates the growth process well, and with the loss of early harvest, the total amount will be high enough.
After 8-10 days the spraying of “Growth Stimulator” and the anti-stress solution of “Zircon” can be repeated. It is necessary to fertilize with urea in 3-4 days and to repeat the entire fertilizer (nitrate or other) in 5-7 days, but with great care and in small doses.
If the above-ground part is not significantly frosted (the leaves are not blackened, but a little wilted), watering the leaves with slightly warm water (actually room temperature) through a shallow diffuser can have a positive effect. This technique promotes a gradual thawing of lightly frosted shrubs.
Tomatoes die when the temperature drops from 33-37°F (1-3°C) to 30°F (-1°C). To protect plants from prolonged cold spells, heat them with a smoldering fire and cover bushes with straw and dry sawdust. For small plantings, cover bushes with cardboard boxes, plastic containers, or mulching material.