Save Space for Seedlings; Clone Your Tomatoes

| 4/18/2013 2:57:00 PM

Every vegetable we plant at Forgotten Forty Farm is heirloom, organic, and delicious, but what we're really known for is our tomatoes. Everyone loves tomatoes 

Every year people in the area anticipate our nearly 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and inevitably ask to purchase some plants for themselves. I don't have a great deal of space in my indoor grow-boxes for many more than the 600 I have to start for myself each year, and I won't have a heated greenhouse until the hobbit house is finished, so the problem presents itself;  "Where do I start plants for everyone else?"

I clone my tomatoes and I use my fish tank. 

When I start the process, to save space initially, I plant my tomato seedlings 5 to a four inch pot, in a dice pattern. I let these seedlings get to a transplantable size, with at least 2 sets of mature leaves and a decent growing tip, and then I separate them into individual pots. This usually occurs for me at about 3 weeks after sowing. When they are transplanted, they are dropped down in the soil to the first pair of true leaves as a means of supporting a stronger root system, and buying me more time under the grow lights in the space available. 

The proper size for tomato clones 

My shelves are set up to support a maximum of 18 inches under the lights in order to give me as many shelves as I can manage vertically, while still having room to move the lights up and down as needed to promote good growth of the plants at any size. When the plants reach their maximum height for the shelves, it's time to clone. I find that mine usually take another 2 weeks after transplant, but every system will vary. The important thing is to make sure the plant is sturdy, healthy and at least a foot tall with a minimum of 4 pairs of true leaves at a good size, and a well established growing tip. 

4/29/2013 8:29:58 PM

A. Thomas, you just happened to become a GRIT blogger when issues were causing some difficulty on the Website. Welcome to the GRIT blogging community and I'm hoping to see many more informational blogs. The tomato cloning was quite interesting. You have quite the tomato patch if 600 for yourself are planted. I find that my 10 will suffice just find. Everyone here seems to plant tomatoes if nothing else. Have a great tomato planting day.

4/21/2013 12:54:39 PM

It appears that the issues with the GRIT landing page and comment section has been resolved. I'm looking forward to hearing about what has been happening on your gardening/homestead this last month. May GRIT blogs live and prosper.

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