Uh Oh, Tomatoes

Tomato seedlings pre-pricked
Tomato seedlings pre-pricked

They’d hit a wall. And looked leggy. And as it’s getting close to that time when all the plants on deck need to be on deck, it was time to do something. Like pricking out. Why, you ask, is it “pricking out?”

No clue. Sorry.

But, regardless of whatever silly name gardeners have given the process, it seems to make good sense. About a month ago, Tomande, Princess of the Patio, Sweetheart of the Patio, and Gold Nugget were planted. And since then they’ve glowed the night way in front of wide-spectrum fluorescent bulbs and on sunny days, soak up the rays on a warm, south-facing South Philly window sill.

tomato seedlings true leaves
True Leaves

Last week, though, they hit a wall. The first set of true leaves had appeared — those jagged leaves that sprout just above the “baby” (cotyledon) leaves — and the leaves are a bright, happy green (indicating they’re receiving enough light), but the old nemesis, “legginess” had also joined in on the party.

So, overcoming inertia and general gardening laziness, the poor little things made a trip the the little blue deck for some early transplanting.

pricking potsFirst fill new, larger pots with seedling soil, making a deep well for the plant in the center of each container. Using a fork, gently loosen the dirt around the seedlings.

pricking tomatoes

Then, very gently grasp the seedling by its baby leaves and prick it from the soil. (Hey, maybe that’s the reason. Why it’s not “pulling,” “uprooting,” or “early transplanting” remains a mystery.) Gently lower the seedling into the hole. The leggy stem should be well-submerged tomato prickinginto the new container — new roots will sprout along the newly-buried stem.

Return them to their indoor location.  Water and resume light therapy.

And hope for the best.

tomatoes pricked

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