Remember this post? How to Start Seed for Balcony and Small Gardens. I am happy to report that everything is coming up, herbs, peppers and tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes!
My tomatoes grew a few inches and started to touch the plastic green houses I had created from takeout containers. Although replanting of such tiny seedlings is not advised, I came up with a mix of methods and did it. A few days have passed and all is well.
Seedlings like small containers and the greenhouse effect helps to keep them moist, but not to wet. I actually have to water them less than I do other plants. The greenhouse also helps to keep a more constant temperature.
I decided to make small containers – albeit larger than my originals – out of toilet paper tubes. I cut four slits at the bottom and folded them over to close it.
Next, I set them upright into smaller pots, about 4-6 inches deep. I surrounded the tubes with the same soil I used when I first planted the seeds. My hope is that when the tomatoes outgrow the comfy little tubes, the roots will push through the toilet paper roll, which I expect will start to disintegrate with watering, but hopefully, will last as long as the seedlings need them.
Then, I watered the seedlings in the original containers before moving them. The roots of seedlings do not like to be disturbed. Watering helps them to maintain some of the soil around the roots when moving them. I tried to grab them in groups of three, gingerly picking them up by the leaves, and gently using a miniature shovel under the soil. They were growing in groups from the seeds, so I replanted them that way because it disturbed them less. When they are large enough to be potted outdoors, I will separate them.
I added a little of the same soil to the tube before planting and a little more after. The idea is to plant the tomato deeper – almost to the leaves. I will do the same when I repot them in their final destinations – either in a huge pot for the balcony, or into the ground. The deeper the root, the stronger the plant will be and the bigger it will be.
Finally, I cut 1 liter plastic water bottles in half. I set them around each tube to create a greenhouse effect. When watering, I remove the caps of the tops halves of the bottles and lightly water the plant through the holes. For the bottom halves, I do have to lift each bottle to water. But it’s not so hard.
Although we have large bins on our street for recycling materials, no one really knows where the stuff is going. So my personal PhD of Environmental Engineering was very proud to see what I did with all the plastic and paper!