Re: [tomato] seedling transplant

William McKay (
Wed, 03 Mar 1999 20:36:31 PST

Got to weigh in on your side, Byron.  Here in Massachusetts, I sometimes 
get a few cherry tomatoes from volunteers which direct seed, but not 
much more.  I always try to have a few tomatoes in large pots. As long 
as they have been given plenty of room for their little roots to grow, 
have never had a problem with setting them out.  This year I actually 
started one tomato on Jan 26 and a few more the second week in February.  
If I had the room, I would start them all at the beginning of March and 
have them in huge pots by the end of may.  

Re breaking roots, damaging tomatoes in transplanting, etc.  I have been 
stunned how tough they are.  Last year my brother (a commercial grower) 
had a flat of brandywines he was going to toss.  He never got to 
transplanting them and there were about 300 of them in a 10-20 tray;  
they were eight to 10 inches high with virtually no roots.  I managed to 
separate a few, wound them around some in some 4" pots, and they did ok. 
not great, but ok)

Question on setting out tomatoes early.  Has anyone had experience 
putting their tomatoes out in an unheated greenhouse.  I have a small 
plastic hoop house I built last fall.  Plan to use it mostly as a season 
extender. (I managed to overwinter lettuce & a few herbs; overwintered 
lettuce is now growing well) I know there are some growers around here 
who put tomatoes out in an unheated house somewhere around mid-April 
(week or two before last frost) and cover them with remay cloth.  Any 
tips if I were to try that.  Would it make more sense to (1) put them in 
the ground (2) put them in 5 gal buckets and move them outside once it 
warms up pretty good (as in 3rd or 4th week of May).  I also have some 
vented plastic row covers (the kind you hold up with # 9 wire) and was 
planning to use it for lettuce & very early peas, maybe a few other 
vegetables.  Has anyone used it for tomatoes?  IF so, any tips.

Bill McKay in E. Massachusetts

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