tomato transplants

Protect Your Tomato Transplants

And believe me, your tender tomato transplants need protection–from all kinds of harmful factors! I garden in Central Florida where spring begins in February and the heat quickly follows. So for me, an important consideration when transplanting my tomato seedling from patio to garden is the sun, and how much my babies can tolerate. Another consideration is bugs. Bugs love warm weather and open spaces, and I have both.

The solution?

Screen. Similar to my screen patio, I use screen to protect my plants in the garden. At least for the first month, anyway. It’s a pretty basic proposition. You can purchase screen material in rolls from your local hardware store–maybe even cut sheets–and the rest is obvious. Measure your length, cut your fabric and cover your plants. My setup is similar to a “pup tent.” I use posts with twine/cable strung between them for my tomato support. I also use the posts as support for my screen. I do love a multi-tasker!

Next, I stabilize my “tent” with anchor pins. These poke through the screen material quite easily and keep the screen in place and away from my plants. Caution: Heavy spring winds can rip the anchor pins from the soil, so check frequently and stabilize as necessary. We had a big windstorm last week and some of my babies were battered.  Not good!

My plants are happy. And when they’re happy, mama’s happy.

Tomato Transplants Are In

I did it!  I transplanted my precious seedlings into the garden.  (Those specks you see are organic weed-preventer granules.)

I started these from seed about 6 weeks ago and decided it was time they moved into their new home.  It was touch and go there for a while.  Poor little babies.  Sun was scorching, heat was dreadful — I had to water them twice while I was out there!  But they made it.  The fates were shining upon me (actually rained upon me – better luck, in the case of sprouts) and all turned out well. 

Until the next day.  Not one to waste water, I turned off the sprinkler due to the massive rainstorm the night before.  Bad idea.  I was so busy during the day, I forgot to check on them!  Wasn’t until late afternoon I remembered.  Ugh.  Multi-tasking gone wrong.  They almost died. 

My peppers suffered, too.   But a fresh spritz of water brought them back to their grand stature in no time!

A good thing, because I nearly fell over from heat stroke getting them in.  It’s hot in Florida and presents quite the dilemma for this gardener.   Do you keep your sprouts on the patio for a longer period of time, sparing them (and yourself) the horrendous heat of September?  Or do you go ahead and get them in to set roots, deep and early. 

Remember last year?  Our first frost came and caught my tomatoes in full bloom!  I had a wagon full of green tomatoes and my family was none too happy about it.  No red tomatoes means no red tomato sauce.  A bad day in an Italian household, let me tell you. 

So this year I’m going with sooner rather than later.  I put out these lovely kitchen towels for inspiration. 

My plants are in and have plenty of time to develop the strong root system they need to produce big beautiful tomatoes. 

All I have to do is baby them during the day.  Which is okay.  I can manage it. 

On second thought, maybe I should set a timer