Congratulations! Your seedlings have sprouted, healthy and strong, and are threatening to take over the kitchen. That means it’s time to transplant them and get them used to life outside.
Gather up all the small pots, empty yogurt containers, Tupperwares without lids, and other likely pots. You’ll need all the stuff you can find.
Begin by bringing one of the younglings out of the sprouting tray. I used these little peat pucks with great success.
Notice that it has a bit of fine mesh around it. Remove that and gently break up the root ball.
Now, an important travel tip. If you’re like me, you started a couple of seeds in each puck. Sometimes one survived; sometimes none; sometimes all of them. In this case, all three sprouted but you can tell one of them (that little guy in the middle) is not doing too well.
Prepare yourself–you need to thin that little guy out. Before you have a coronary and call me a plant murderer or worse, please consider this quote from Steve Solomon, former owner of Territorial Seed Company.
I’ve met gardeners who cannot force themselves to thin, which to them seems a cruel act, almost like murdering children. I entreat you, you gentlest of persons, to reconsider the nature of plants. Thinning seedlings is not like drowning unwanted kittens. Vegetables don’t mind being thinned. They actually like it. Thinning helps them. Your vegetables understand you must sow several seeds to get a single plant established because they do the same thing themselves, only more so.
Do you feel better? You have Official Permission to thin. Anywhoo, back to transplanting. Drop the little guy into the bottom of your pot. These are going into the bottom of the pan because the deeper you plant your tomatoes, the more roots they develop and the stronger they get.
Fill ‘er up with good soil and that one is finished.
All of those little guys are going to look the same once they’re transplanted, so label the pots or take a picture so you know what you’ve got.
Give them a gentle shower of water and you’re done! (Did you notice there are more than 20 seedlings there? And that’s not all of ’em. There’s lots of salsa in our future!)