April 6, 2013
Hardening Off Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplants
I finally pricked the last of the peppers out of the coconut coir starting medium and put them into their individual styrofoam cups. The granulated coconut coir I use is a light and fluffy starting medium, very easy for the plants to sprout out of. But it is a non-nutritive material made from coconut husk fibers which provides very little nutrition to the growing plants, so I go ahead and prick out the seedlings once they sprout and replant them.
There were enough trays to set a hundred plants outside to enjoy the afternoon sun, a mixture of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. That left only 35 of the biggest tomato plants inside still under lights.
There's enough Brandywine tomatoes for me to experiment with different support techniques which will give me a good idea of production effects while keeping the variety of tomato constant. The 3 support systems will by my husband's interpretation of the Florida weave, staking and pruning of suckers to one leader, and caging tomatoes with either bamboo and twine or wire fencing.
The cold winter we had this year really did a number on the insect population. I saw only two gnats and a single bee while outside today. Hopefully it won't be too hot this year. High heat sterilizes the pollen in peppers and eggplants, so fruit rarely set during the height of summer.