I’m a little bit overdue for transplanting my “early” tomatoes, but I wanted to share my process with you. As I mentioned before I learned a lot of my tomato growing techniques from Bob Thompson’s book The New Victory Garden.
These are the plants I wanted to transplant: tomatoes (middle and right) and basil (left)
I make my labels and stick them on the new pots first, so I don’t get my varieties mixed up later.
Tip the pot over and let gravity ease the mass of soil and plants out of the container. Avoid pulling on the stems. Support the mass by the soil clod, not by the plant stems.
Now you’ve got to get those plants separated. If I hadn’t waited too long to transplant, the roots would not be so long and intertwined already and the soil clump would pretty much fall apart in my hands. Since I waited too long, I have to use my fingers to gently pull the clump apart into four pieces, trying not to rip too many roots as I go. Here’s the clump separated into four pieces:
Pick up one seedling. Pinch off all stems but the topmost.
Then I put the seedling into its new pot. I don’t put much soil in the bottom, because I want to bury the stem as deeply as I can. The tomato plant will grow roots along the stem, and it also makes the plant sturdier.
I found a lettuce plant lurking in my basil:
The basil and early tomatoes are transplanted, and another round of basil has been started. They are all ready to get watered and go back under the grow lights: