Planting out tomatoes

At the end of February I sowed tomato seed. When the seedlings had developed two “true” leaves (as opposed to the “seed” leaves) I potted them on into individual 3″ pots. I used old cream pots into which I burnt drainage holes using a hot skewer. The young plants were then grown on indoors on a sunny windowsill. I turned the pots regularly to stop the plants straining for the light.

For the past 3 weeks or so I have been hardening the plants off, putting them out during the day and bringing them in at night, getting them ready for life in the great outdoors.

Tomato plants hardening off on the doorstep

Tomato plants hardening off on the doorstep

April and May have been cold here. This time last year I was already picking strawberries. Right now the strawberries are only in flower and just beginning to form small fruits.

Strawberry plant in flower

Strawberry plant in flower

Finally this week the weather has improved and I took the opportunity to get outside and plant out the tomatoes – 6 San Marzano (an Italian plum tomato) and 6 Tumbling Tom (a trailing cherry tomato).

The San Marzano went into two grow bags. I haven’t used grow bags for a few years now because they dry out so quickly but in the end of season sale last year I bought half a dozen Grow Pots so I thought that I’d give them try. Here they are all planted up.

San Marzano planted up

San Marzano planted up

I put three of the cherry tomato plants into pots on the patio and the other three I planted in hanging baskets.

Tumbling Tom in pots

Tumbling Tom in pots.

I haven’t grown the tomatoes in handing baskets before but having rescued the baskets from being sent to the tip I thought I give it a go. Here’s how I planted them up:

First I lined the basket with a shop bought liner and put an old plastic lid in the bottom to prevent water from running straight through.

Basket with liner

Basket with liner

Then I filled the basket with compost into which I had mixed some slow release fertilizer and some water retaining gel crystals.

Next, in went the tomato plant. Because those greedy slugs and snails get everywhere I surrounded the young plant with some Slug Gone (trying it for the first time this year). The Slug Gone will also act as a mulch and help prevent water loss.

Ready to hang

Ready to hang

I picked up the basket to hang and… disaster. The compost started to fall through the liner.

Compost falling through liner

Compost falling through liner.

Time for a rethink and an opportunity to live Primal Blueprint Law #10 Use your brain! Also a time to be thankful that I had only planted up one of the baskets and not all three.

I dug out a couple of old compost bags and, using a liner as a template, I cut out a disc to line the liner. I even remembered to make some drainage holes in the plastic. With the plastic liner there was no need for the little plastic dish in the bottom of the basket. When the basket had been replanted it was finally ready to hang.

Basket with plastic liner

Basket with plastic liner

Here it is hanging from one of the arches in the garden. Now, how many times do I have to hit my head before I remember to duck?!

Hanging basket

Hanging basket

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