Category Archives: Transplanting

Transplant tomato seedlings

Prune and transplant tomato seedlings in your Mittleider garden

Today we are going to prune and transplant our tomato seedlings from seedling flats to our grow boxes.  Pruning before transplanting is going to help make them stronger and help to get them through the shock of transplanting faster.  If you are looking for information on pruning tomatoes grown with the Mittleider gardening method, check out this post.

Transplant tomato seedlings

While we demonstrate transplanting these seedlings into a grow box, the same steps can be taken to put them into your native soil.

Why prune before transplanting?

Pruning tomatoes before transplanting is a good idea for a couple reasons.  First, by removing some of the leaves it is going to be able to transplant it deeper into the soil.  The more of the tomato plant you can get into the soil, the more roots it is going to establish.  More roots will help it to grow faster and supply more water and nutrition to the plant and those delicious tomatoes  we want to grow.  It is all about the tomatoes!

Reducing the leaf mass on the seeding will also help reduce transplant shock.  With less mass to try and support through the shock of transplant, the seedling will come out of shock faster.  Our absolute favorite pruning tool is the Fiskar.

What do I prune?

This is a good time to make sure all the suckers are removed.  To see what we typically removed while pruning seedlings be sure to see the video below.

Transplant them deep

The deeper you can transplant your tomato seedlings, the better.  The stem is just covered in root hairs.  Once they are below the soil they will begin to change into roots. Those new roots will help to get the added water, air and nutrients to the plants.

Take care not to get the terminal bud, or the growing tip, buried.  Doing so will kill the plant and end your chance of getting any tomatoes.

Give them nitrogen

To help get those tomatoes to recover quickly we also give them a shot of nitrogen.  The nitrogen is applied 3-4 inches away from the plants at a rate of 1/4 ounce per linear foot.  Once the nitrogen is applied we scratch it into the soil and then water it and the tomatoes thoroughly.

Here is the video

We made a video showing the pruning and transplanting process on our tomatoes.  We also will include a follow up video showing how all out transplants looked a week later.

Pruning tomato seedlings before transplanting

Pruning tomato seedlings before transplanting

Our average last day of frost has passed for the spring and we are full on in garden mode.  Today we pruned up a mess of the tomatoes we started from seeds under grow lights and have begun transplanting them into the garden.  The next week is going to be busy for us

They get pruned fairly heavily before transplanting, here are some pictures before and after pruning.  When transplanting they go as deep as possible, each of those root hairs on the stem will become a new root to feed the plant and fruit.

Why should you prune a tomato before transplanting?

Pruning of tomato seedlings is done for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, by pruning off all the lower leaves the gardener can transplant the tomato deeper into the soil.  All the root hairs on the stem that are below the soil can then become a root to provide water and nutrients to your plant.

As a result of that tomato seedling having fewer leaves to support it will come out of the shock of transplant sooner.  A plant that is in shock is not growing.

A look at tomato seedlings before and after pruning

Here are two series of photos that show a before and after picture of our tomato seedlings.

tomato seedling that needs pruning
tomato seedling before pruning
prunning of this tomato is complete
Tomato seedling after pruning

Here is another plant before and after pruning.

 

prepparing to prune this tomato seedling
This tomato seedling is in need of pruning
This tomato seedling has been through pruning
Pruning of this tomato seedling is complete

All these were started in sand and sawdust and will be grown in the same custom soil mix.  We will be putting more tomatoes in our native soil later.

Our favorite tool for pruning tomato seedlings

We have used our fingers, scissors and even a kitchen knife to prune seedlings.  After many different tools being used the tool I found most noteworthy is the Fiskars Micro-tip pruning snip.  The blades are short and help to keep you from accidentally removing more of the plant than intended.  (Normal scissors worked great, but I always ended up cutting off something I didn’t want removed.)  The Fiskars have a handy spring in it that opens the blades after you make a cut and loosen your grip on the handle.  We liked this set so well we bought an extra just in case.

A great option for pruning tomatoes
These are terrific in your garden for pruning tomatoes

 

Transplanting seedlings in grow boxes

Transplanting seedlings in grow boxes

We have green beans ready to go into the garden, it is time for transplanting seedlings into our Mittleider garden grow boxes.  They show a little overall yellowing, so after they are transplanted we will give them a corrective treatment of Nitrogen.

Seedlings growing in sawdust and sand
Seedlings growing in sawdust and sand

It’s time to transplant green beans in the first grow box for our fall garden.   Referring to the Garden Planting Details sheet on page 237 of the Mittleider Gardening Course book, we will plant our bush beans 3 inches apart.  It also shows us that we need to plant two rows in our 18 inch grow box.

Tips on transplanting properly

Always avoid handling the seedling by the stem.  If you accidentally break the stem you will kill the plant.  Instead of the stem, grab the plant by the leaves as shown in this next photo.

Transplanting seedlings while holding them by a leaf and NOT a stem
Transplanting seedlings while holding them by a leaf and NOT a stem

 

I have not yet made the tool for marking grow beds and boxes for transplanting so I enlisted the help of the girls to get our 3 inch spacing.

Transplanting seedlings into grow boxes
Transplanting seedlings into grow boxes

Do you see the yellow color in the beans we just transplanted above?  They are showing symptoms of a nitrogen deficiency.  They are in desperate need a correction for a nitrogen deficiency.