Each year we start tomatoes
by seed in January under lights. They get
repotted twice before being planted in the
ground in Wall O' Waters (another brand name
in early April (late March if I get to it),
giving us an almost two month head start.
This is a wonderful season extending device
which is comprised of many plastic 'tubes'
in the shape of a teepee. It is placed over
the seedlings once they are in the ground,
then each tube is filled with water. The
directions say to fill them first and let
them heat up for a few days before planting
the seedling inside, but I have found this
to be an almost impossible task.
During the day the water in the tubes absorbs solar
heat. The heat is released slowly at night, protecting
the plants to 10° F. The original Wall O' Waters
were clear, as in this picture. Now, most are green
or red in color. They are available from local garden
centers, and also from mail order companies such
as Gardeners Supply
The tomatoes usually look pretty sad for a few weeks,
but then begin to grow rapidly, producing ripe tomatoes
by the Fourth of July or earlier (not bad for zone
4b!). These tomatoes have proven to be a big seller
at the local farmer's market. The only competition
was some green-shouldered Early Girls.
Last Year's Early Tomato Log
February 4th - Started 2
6-packs of Way-Ahead tomatoes. First the cells of
potting mix are watered, then three seeds are placed
in each one. The seeds are covered lightly with
a little more potting mix, which is then misted.
Each 6-pack is covered with plastic wrap, and placed
on a heat mat to germinate. Watch daily for plants
Be sure to have plants within 6-8 inches of the
lights. I use stacked shoe boxes to raise them closer
when they are small, then remove the boxes as they
get taller. Light is on a timer, and is on for 15
hours a day.
February 12 - Excellent germination,
close to 100%. All but the strongest seedling is
removed from each cell of the 6-pack. It is best
to cut them off at soil level. Pulling them out
will disturb the roots of the seedling you are keeping.
Continue to remove shoe boxes or whatever you are
using to raise up the seedlings. Check often so
that plants don't touch lights.
I'm watering with ROOTS Plus organic fertilizer.
March 23 - Seedlings are about
9" tall. Repotted into individual 3" diameter pots.
I still have 12 plants total. I'll only put 6 in
the garden, so some will be given away, and some
will be composted...
April 21 - Transplanted five 14"
seedlings into ground in Wall O' Water's. This is
later than usual, but we've had many freezing nights
and snow, so wanted to be a little cautious. Added
compost and greensand to soil. Put stakes in now,
to avoid disturbing roots later.
June 1 - The Wall O' Water's actually
got snowed on once! Took the Wall O' Waters off
about two weeks ago. One plant was snapped off during
removal - a good reason to not wait too long! The
plants are doing well but growing slowly due to
June 15 - We finally started having
a real summer! All the plants are now setting fruit.
One plant in particular has a tangerine size fruit.
Still no signs of ripening, so we'll have to shoot
for later then July 4! They are all still ahead
of the other regular season varieties, and will
no doubt be the first to produce ripe fruit.
July 11 - Finally got our first
ripe fruit today. A couple weeks later than usual,
but not bad overall!
Ready to grow the earliest, best, most delicious
Tomatoes of your gardening career? We've got
just what you need to protect your young plants
from frost and chills, keep them growing their
best, and save water and weeding time into the
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