18 April 2008

Calcium Boost

We have just about one more month until the tomatoes go in the ground (though with the 85° temp we hit today, maybe we should bump our target date up a little). Our seedlings were started a few weeks ago and there's no way they'd comfortably make it four more weeks in their little six-packs. So, today was re-potting day. I upgraded the largest of the seedlings to slightly bigger containers using the Future House Farm Surefire Method for Wicked Hardy Tomato Plants.*

First, I made myself an enormous omelet.

Kidding! I actually took a bunch of eggshells we'd been saving and smashed them in to wee little bits.

And mixed them into a bucket of potting soil.

The eggshells are because tomatoes need to have a lot of calcium available so that they can regulate their water intake, or something like that. Last year our tomatoes and our peppers seemed to like having some eggshells, so we figured we'd try that trick again this year.

The real key thing to re-potting tomatoes, though, is to bury them deep. All those little hairs on their stems can develop into roots, so we pull off the first leaves towards the bottom and stick them way down deep in their new pots.

That way, only the top couple of leaves will stick out and the buried stem will grow new roots.

Tomatoes are really affected by water fluctuations, so both the extra calcium and the really deep roots help a lot. Every time we replant the tomatoes, whether in new pots or out in the garden, we bury them at least halfway. They always look a bit pathetic afterwards, but being able to access so much extra water makes them grow like crazy soon after they settle into their new home.

*I just made that up. Our tomato plants were actually killed by a black walnut tree last year.


Angelina said...

That is one super nice looking tomato plant. I'll have to try that trick too. Great idea!

Christina said...

Eggs and tomatoes go together like Sonny and Cher (before the divorce, plastic surgery and evilly misplaced fir tree). I plant each tomato plant with a whole egg. As the egg decomposes, it feeds the plant just what it needs just as it needs it. Other than healthy soil, that is the only fertilizer my tomato plants get as they grow, and man, do they ever grow and produce. The calcium from the shells also protects the tomato and pepper fruit from blossom end rot.

I hear you about the black walnut trees. They are EVIL.

Razor Family Farms said...

We do this too! My grandmother taught me this wee bit of country wisdom and we have excellent tomatoes!

I am so excited to have found your blog and am adding it to my favorites right away!

Can't wait to read more!


Brandi said...

I've just discovered your blog and am in love! Your posts are very witty! I love the comments about the chickens, too funny! As a fellow PA gardener, (Reading) I'm intrigued by your chicken coop, especially how cheap you say it was to construct. If you could post some more photos of the coop and the inside I would be very grateful. Our first baby chicks will be arriving in two weeks and I would appreciate any advice! The information on the organic feed mill was excellent, I'm planning a trip down that way in a few weeks just to check it out! Again, thanks for the laughs!

kate smudges said...

Thanks for this post - I didn't realise this about tomatoes (i.e. the planting deep). That is great info. Black walnut trees are a pain.

Meg said...

Angelina, thanks! The eggshell trick seemed to really help with blossom end rot last year.

Christina, a whole egg? Do you break it, or does the shell just deteriorate on its own? Interesting ...

Hi, Lacy! I don't know who originally decided to throw eggs in their tomato planting hole, but they were onto something.

Hi, Brandi! Congrats on getting baby chicks. We've been getting a lot of chicken questions lately, so I think it would be a good idea to put some kind of chicken post together. Look for it next week. And, if you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to email.

Kate, it really works well, too. When we pulled up our tomato plants at the end of last year, the roots of some were so long that they snaked though to the adjacent beds. Those things were definitely able to take up lots of water!