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.
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.