Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Potting up Tomatoes

Just in the last week the days have been a little warmer and a little sunnier and the days are getting a little longer. My first batch of tomato seedlings have responded and are now developing their first set of true leaves. Next week I am going away to the USA for a short trip and at this rate I don't think they will fare well in these small modules in which I planted the seeds. The root systems are well developed and I don't want to check their growth which is rampant at the moment.
Armed with my supply of 'liberated' chip forks - for the benefit of my American readers these are disposable wooden forks which are found in the good old English fish and chip shops! - these make fantastic plant labels.
Now comes the clever bit... this time of year I collect all my eggshells and keep them in a dry, warm place (the drawer under the cooker) and use them to crumble a small amount into the bottom of each of the pots. I will use eggshells again when I eventually plant them out into their final plot - along with a bizarre selection of other items. When you finally plant out your tomatoes, dig a big hole into which you put some fish heads (for calcium), a couple of aspirin tablets (helps the plant's immune system), more egg shells (calcium helps prevent blossom end rot) and a handful of bonemeal. This is also the advice that you will find on Cynthias blog Loveapple farm. I can highly recommend a visit.
Also happening in the greenhouse this week, are my purple podded peas. They are springing up nicely. I have a few extra seeds if anyone wants to do a swap?
I am trying a new way of growing spring onions 'White Lisbon' this year. I think in the USA they are known as scallions?? I am growing a bunch of onions, about 6 seeds in a module and I will plant out the bunch together at spaces. This means that I will be able to pick them a bunch at a time. Fingers crossed.


At 8:15 PM, Blogger EB said...

Hello - so, so interesting looking at other people's seedlings! Do you start your tomatoes off with heat, and if so have you got huge facilities for this, since you grow so many? I'd love to sow into nodules like that but have to cram things in close together to make use the heated propagator.

Great ideas about egg-shells but if I put them anywhere, esp with bonemeal too, the foxes dig things up.

At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if those 'purple podded peas' are the peas that are known in Dutch as 'Capucijners' or 'Blauwschokkers'. Those are peas that are well-known in the Netherlands, but not abroad. You can eat them young, and then they are just a little bit less sweet that other peas, but they also can be harvested dry.

Your tomatoes are doing well.
I'm sowing them myself for the first time this year, but they are only just germinating.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Dan said...

In Canada they mostly call those onions 'green onions'. Onion names can certainly get confusing when there are top setting, egyptian, bunching, scallions, potato, multipling etc etc. I have been on the look out for potato onions that can be harvested year round but it's hard to tell what you are getting with all these names!

I would like to try some of those purple pea's but I have no room for them this year. I'd love to do a trade with you next season. I just put up my varieties list if you want to have an early look at what I have available.

Best of luck on your US trip!

At 10:40 PM, Blogger Peggy said...

That is new info to me about the egg shells! I will give it a go when potting the tomatos on.When do you start feeding the seedlings as mine have their true leaves also but are still on the small side?

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Luciana Onofre said...

Su blog es maravilloso. Lo seguiré siempre!

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

I love your idea for using chip forks as plant markers! What a great idea!

At 6:18 PM, Anonymous easygardener said...

I might try your spring onions in modules idea. I find they often mysteriously disappear when I sow them directly into the ground.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Tash said...

I'm pretty sure that in Australia they call spring onions scallions.
I'm really inspired to start my seeds off - but I'm so worried about it as it is my very 1st year!!

Following your guidance, Tash

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Petunia's Gardener said...

The seedlings are looking great! Because of my trip, I only planted tomato & lettuce seeds last weekend. Part of the tomatoes popped up by Wed, and the rest by Friday. Only I missed them in their warm, dark spot & now they are leggy. They are in the light now so I hope they do ok. Peas! I need to get them started too.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Clara said...

Brilliant! I'd like to do a seed swap with you - I have some butternut squash seeds going.

You can contact me at

I love the chip forks too. I was told that they're also really helpful for pricking out with?

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Ryan said...

I love your blog! Im new to this and slowly getting round to reading other peoples pieces.

The idea of using chip shop forks for plant labels is inspired!! I might have to start with this one too!

Please check out my new blog :

At 10:45 PM, Blogger Sylvana said...

Oh my gosh! I have never seen this paper roll idea before. That is clever. I was planning to start seeds this year and I think I might borrow that idea.


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