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New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

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New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/11/2014, 6:22 pm

Hi there,

I am completely new to gardening and have decided to try the SFG method. I hope my question is not too silly, but I truly do not know the answer.. remember completely new to this!

I bought these cute little tomato plants at the nursery that are in little pots filled with some sort of soil mixture, no clue what. Anywhoo.. when I go to plant them in my SFG filled with Mel's Mix, do I need to remove the dirt that is in the pot surrounding the roots or do I just plop the whole shebang in my Mel's Mix, mystery soil and all?

Just in case the info is needed to answer this question, I am planning on attempting the "lay down" method described in Mel's book.

Thank you so much in advance and if this is a stupid question, I hope at the most I've done nothing more than cause a few chuckles directed at my newbie self. 

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Goosegirl on 4/11/2014, 7:13 pm

welcome Catbranch, from South Dakota!

Answer to your question: Plop those babies in, don't worry about the soil on the roots. No need to stress the little seedlings more than necessary. What else are thinking about trying this season?

GG

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/11/2014, 7:30 pm

Thank you so much for replying Goosegirl!! 

The only things I'm sure of right now are the tomatoes, pole beans, carrots and onions. I cannot begin to tell you how obsessed I have been over this! I have a stack of little templates here that I have filled with various strategies. I would like to grow some spinach and some leaf lettuce varieties too, but I'm still uncertain as to whether I've waited too late to do so at this point since it starts getting pretty hot here in late May if not a mid-May.

I tell ya, I've read my little seed packets and admired my little seedlings so often in the last week, all the while visualizing what I hope they end up becoming, that I'm starting to feel like an alchemist here!

Thanks again for your help!  Very Happy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/11/2014, 8:01 pm

Welcome! As goosegirl says, don't worry about the soil the plant came with. If it were really so bad, it never would have grown a plant good-looking enough to have charmed you into buying it. Now that it's going into Mel's Mix, life will go from good to even better.

The only reason to get rid of transplant soil is if the plant is diseased, and then it's better to just throw away the plant too!

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Goosegirl on 4/11/2014, 9:31 pm

@catbranch wrote:I tell ya, I've read my little seed packets and admired my little seedlings so often in the last week, all the while visualizing what I hope they end up becoming, that I'm starting to feel like an alchemist here!

Addicted and obsessed already - that's what we love to see! I am impatiently watching and waiting for my tom and pepper seedlings to get big enough to pot up, so I can have my little starter cells back for starting some flowers! This is my fourth season with SFG and my first time starting flowers from seed. The wonder is new every season!

GG

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/12/2014, 12:09 am

Thank you for the welcome and the advise Marc! I just love this forum and all the wonderful information that can be found here. Everyone seems so nice and helpful. I am just thrilled that I found my way here. I've been lurking and reading for days!

Goosegirl, I hope you have tremendous success with your flowers from seeds this year! I'm betting they are going to turn out bee-you-tee-ful! 

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Kelejan on 4/12/2014, 1:19 am

glad you\'re here catbranch.
Please be assured that no question is silly, many of us remember only too well feeling the same way when we started. You can't learn if you do not question or search.
Enjoy the magic of growing things. There  is so much to learn, just take it a bit at a time and enjoy the journey.  happy hi

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  sanderson on 4/12/2014, 3:00 am

Catbranch,  welcome to the Forum!  glad you\'re here 

Last spring, I was a Newbie, also.  Folks on this Forum are so helpful.  I feel know I have learned so much more from this Forum and all the help, than if I had tried to do everything on my own.  Ask away!

If you don't already have it, get a copy of All New Square Foot Gardening, 1st or 2nd Ed., by Mel Bartholomew.  You will be referring to it time and time again.  Let us know what you have found in the way of vermiculite, peat moss, and 5 different types of compost.  Making your Mel's Mix is usually the hardest part of SFG but the most critical as far as getting going and having success.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/12/2014, 7:59 am

Hi Catbranch.  Welcome to the party!

 smiles 

I live just east of you in GA.  Also 7b, right on the edge of 8a.

I just joined the forum last month after looking at SFG for almost a year.  Yes, obsessed and addicted would describe me as well.  (At least, according to my hubby, lol)

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/12/2014, 8:17 am

Thank you Kelejan, AltantaMarie and sanderson!

I do have a copy of All New Square Foot Gardening. It's my gardening bible and I take it with me everywhere I go!

I am going today to pick up the remainder of my supplies for the Mel's Mix. My vermiculite is supposed to be ready for pick-up today at my local, privately owned hardware store that also carries tons of gardening supplies (he had run out). I'm anxious to get a look at it because he is only charging me $12.99 per 4 cu ft bag, but he assures me that it is most definitely the course grade and claims he knows his vermiculite. Nevertheless, it has me so worried! He promised to charge me more if it would make me feel better haha. 

The 5 different composts has me a bit confused due to the different bag sizes with no noted volume on any of them. So, unless someone has a better suggestion, I think I'm going to either:

1. Use the 5-gal bucket method = approx .66 cubic feet  OR
2. Use an empty bag that has the volume noted

Shaking in my shoes here! I do NOT want to mess this part of it up!

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/12/2014, 8:43 am

glad you\'re here Cathy!

You think you're obsessed now?  Wait till you start making your own compost! Twisted Evil 
  

The bucket method is a great idea for making your MM now. I use the wheelbarrow method myself.  Same idea.

Please post photos when you get a chance. We love photos! What kind of tomatoes do you have to plant?

CC

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/12/2014, 8:55 am

Hey CapeCoddess and thank you for the welcome!

So far I only have Better Boy tomato plants that I plan on planting in the lay down method in my northern end and hoping to grow up the trellis pruned to single stem. Unfortunately, my knowledge of tomatoes is very limited.. like grocery store limited. Until I started investigating them I had 3 "varieties" in my knowledge tank: red, green and Roma.  Razz 

Better Boy seemed like my safest bet at the time of purchase because the picture looked like the "red" ones I was already familiar with, hahaha!

I already told my husband I needed him to build me a compost bin. After his eyes returned to normal after glazing over, he asked I could please take all of this one step at a time. Hate to break it to the poor man, but I don't think I'm capable of doing that at this point.

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  meatburner on 4/12/2014, 9:35 am

glad you\'re here to this great forum Cathy!  Your excitement and enthusiasm sure is refreshing.  You will enjoy the rewards od all of your hard work from now on.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Goosegirl on 4/12/2014, 10:23 am

@catbranch wrote:...
The 5 different composts has me a bit confused due to the different bag sizes with no noted volume on any of them. So, unless someone has a better suggestion, I think I'm going to either:

1. Use the 5-gal bucket method = approx .66 cubic feet  OR
2. Use an empty bag that has the volume noted

Shaking in my shoes here! I do NOT want to mess this part of it up!

Cathy

You want it to be close, but it is not an exact science. If anything, go long on the compost. I tried the bucket and tarp method for measuring and mixing, but it was too heavy and I am too small, so I ended up doing the eyeball method: Backed my truck up to my beds, shoveled compost in, then dumped vermiculite and peat until they all looked about even (for the peat, I went sloooooooowly, cutting the bag, fluffing some, then adding it), then mixed it all up with my shovel. Everything was so light that it worked very well with some light sprinklings from the hose to keep the dust down. Of course, if I my compost had been in bags, the truck part would have been unnecessary!  rofl Thankfully all my compost was free, from friends with local farms and ranches. I have become the Scavenge Queen! If you start your own compost, you will soon be scavenging with the best of us - coffee grounds from work, begging friends to save scraps, hovering at the back door of friendly markets that will let you take spoiled veggies, etc.

GG


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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/12/2014, 10:51 am

Be sure to fluff that peat most, since it approximately doubles in volume.

I now use the 5-gallon bucket method, which works like a charm for me.  If you choose to use the tarp method, it shouldn't be too difficult, assuming your DH will help.


Just this week, I hit upon an idea that makes that process slightly easier for one person with a bad back.  I roll each corner of the tarp with my hands, one at a time, then flip the compost.  Don't know why this seems easier, but it does.


Please don't make the mistake I did a few years ago.  My wonderful former neighbor agreed to help me do the mixing, and like a fool, I thought the two of us could do 12 cubic feet all at once!  Now, I'd probably just do no more than about six cubic feet, with two people doing the work.  


Sigh.  If only I were rich, I'd get this wonderful electric utility mixer I found at Big Blue the other day....  Only $298.00!

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/12/2014, 10:53 am

Oh.  Forgot to add that I think Better Boy is a good choice.  Its flavor is good, among other things.  Later on, you'll want to branch out and try other varieties.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  camprn on 4/12/2014, 11:22 am

@catbranch wrote: do I need to remove the dirt that is in the pot surrounding the roots or do I just plop the whole shebang in my Mel's Mix, mystery soil and all?
plant the whole root ball with the soil.

@catbranch wrote: Just in case the info is needed to answer this question, I am planning on attempting the "lay down" method described in Mel's book.


Cathy
good!

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Kelejan on 4/12/2014, 1:40 pm

Cut your husband some slack and tell him you will only take it two steps at a time.
A bit like haggling, start high and come down and he will love you for it.  Laughing

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/12/2014, 5:07 pm

Thank you for the welcome meatburner! 

donnainzone10, camprn, Goosegirl (again) and heck.. everyone here, thank you so much for all of the advise. You have no idea how much I appreciate ya'll taking your time to offer it up! You gardeners are a friendly bunch of people and I'm thrilled I have found you here.

donnainzone10 - I was planning on mixing it all up in one batch, so the advise not to do so came to me just in the nick of time. Of course, I'm planning on making my husband and two 20-ish yo sons do the heavy lifting part, while my 13 yo daughter and I oversee them.  Laughing 

Kelejan - Here's how I handle my husband.. I just built the trellis and it's propped up in the middle of my den in front of his recliner. It has a note on it telling him he won't have to keep moving it out of his way every time he wants to sit down if he would hurry up and get this whole show on the road. I left a potato on his car seat this morning and tomorrow morning he will find a rubberband holding his toothbrush and a carrot together. 

Even if he doesn't hurry it along, we are at least having some chuckles along the way!

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  walshevak on 4/12/2014, 8:17 pm

@catbranch wrote:

donnainzone10 - I was planning on mixing it all up in one batch, so the advise not to do so came to me just in the nick of time. Of course, I'm planning on making my husband and two 20-ish yo sons do the heavy lifting part, while my 13 yo daughter and I oversee them.  Laughing 


Cathy

I have done 60 cu ft on a tarp all by myself.  It was a very big tarp and I just piled all the composts on top of one another then used the garden rake to move it around a little at a time.  When all mixed I added the fluffed peat and did the same.  Last was the vermiculite.  Took me 3 days to mix and load 6 beds.  My son, 20YO grandson, 15 YO granddaughter and I did it in one afternoon.  Same amount, two rakes and four people to roll the tarp.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  donnainzone5 on 4/12/2014, 8:59 pm

Walshevak,

I didn't use a rake.  I/we simply flipped the tarp over and over again.  It was back-breaking work!  

However:  I may try out the rake method.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  catbranch on 4/12/2014, 9:21 pm

Glad I bought that metal rake today then! I had to buy a shovel too. That's just sad, we have been in this house for 17 years and didn't even own a shovel. 

Again, all of the advice ya'll are giving is just priceless to me!

Cathy

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  walshevak on 4/12/2014, 10:36 pm

donnainzone10 wrote:Walshevak,

I didn't use a rake.  I/we simply flipped the tarp over and over again.  It was back-breaking work!  

However:  I may try out the rake method.
I couldn't flip the tarp by myself.

Kay

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  Kelejan on 4/13/2014, 3:56 am

From catbranch

"Kelejan - Here's how I handle my husband.. I just built the trellis and it's propped up in the middle of my den in front of his recliner. It has a note on it telling him he won't have to keep moving it out of his way every time he wants to sit down if he would hurry up and get this whole show on the road. I left a potato on his car seat this morning and tomorrow morning he will find a rubberband holding his toothbrush and a carrot together. 

Even if he doesn't hurry it along, we are at least having some chuckles along the
way!"

Well, catbranch, you don't need any advice from me on handling your DH.  Laughing

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/13/2014, 9:05 am

After dumping a wheel barrel full of each of the three ingredientson to the tarp, I rotate pulling the tarp from corner to corner spritzing with water occasionally to keep the dust down. It's pretty easy actually.

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Re: New to Gardening, Tomato Planting Question

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