Potting Up Tomatoes

Last Saturday, it was time to pot up all of the tomatoes, which were definitely outgrowing their little cell packs.  My rule of thumb is to pot them up when most of them have 2 sets of true leaves.  Just as with the peppers, to make it easier on myself, I do all the tomatoes at once, even if a few are still on the small side.

Tomatoes Before Repotting

I was a bit concerned that they may be root bound, but when I took them out of the cell packs, the roots looked pretty good:

Tomato Roots - Looking Good

Let me take a little detour here – I promise there is a tomato point to this!  I LOVE my coffee.  Up here in Canada, Tim Hortons is somewhat of an institution.  There is one on practically every corner – literally.  Sometimes you even see them across the street from each other – a full size, sit-down coffee shop on one side and another Tim’s in a gas station on the opposite side – just in case you don’t want to cross the street – I’m not kidding!

Up until recently, Tim Hortons, unlike most other coffee shops, didn’t have coffee sleeves.  When you take your coffee black, like I do, the cups get pretty hot and it is often hard to hold them without moving them back and forth between your hands.  So, most of the time, they would double-cup black coffees.  Now, being the frugal person that I am, I kept all of those extra cups.  In the back of my mind I knew exactly what I would be using them for – repotting tomatoes!  See....I told you this would all come back to tomatoes!

Large Tim's Cup - My Tomato Pot of Choice
A coffee cup, unlike a regular pot, is much deeper than it is wide.  If I was to use a pot with a similar depth (which is 5"), I would be looking at using a 6” pot for each seedling.  That would not only use up a huge quantity of soil, but I would also be unable to fit that many pots (together with my other seedlings) under my grow lights. One of the reasons I repot tomatoes is to bury some of the stem in order to produce more roots, so a deeper pot = more stem buried = better root system.

When preparing the cups, the first thing I take care of is drainage.  A Phillips head screwdriver (the one with the star shape on the tip) makes the perfect hole creator for the cups.  At first I was doing the cups one by one – which was taking quite a long time.  Then I realized I could stack 6 or 7 of them together and make the holes all at once – this was much more efficient.
Drainage Holes Created
I then labelled each cup with the name of the variety using a Sharpie.  It was super important to be methodical here – a couple of times I almost forgot to label one.  Thankfully I remembered before moving on to the next seedling – differentiating between different varieties without labels would be impossible, especially as I am growing a roughly equal number of potato leaved & regular leaf varieties.  And knowing the variety is particularly important when you are dealing with both determinate and indeterminate tomato varieties.

Make Sure To Label the Cups!
I prepared each seedling by pinching off any lower leaves that would be below the soil surface when replanted.

Seedling on Left - Prepped with Lower Leaves Pinched Off
Seedling on the Right - Waiting it's Turn
Next, I put about an inch of soil into the bottom of the cup & then gently placed the seedling on top.
In Goes the Tomato Seedling

I then placed soil around the root ball & all the way up to within about ½” of the top and firmed it down gently with my fingers.
Stem is Now Buried & Will Hopefully Develop into a Nice Large Root System

Lastly, all the cups were placed on a sturdy tray with high sides that would make it easier to move the seedlings in order to water, etc., without them toppling over.

All Done!

Guess what this "tray" used to be in a former life.  Let me give you a hint:

Something Old Is New Again - Or Useful Again, Anyhow
Now don't say "eww" - This tray hasn't held cat litter in over 6 years and it's been thoroughly scrubbed & disinfected with bleach at least 2 or 3 times.  This is once again evidence that I can't throw anything away if I think it may one day come in handy.

Before I sign off, remember J’s mystery tomato that I talked about HERE?  I had compared it to my largest seedling at the time, which was only about an inch tall & didn’t even have one true set of leaves yet:

April 15th
On the Left - My OLDEST Tomato Seedlings
On the Right - J's Seedling
WELL, this is a photo I just took today:

Mine is on the Right & J's is on the Left
My Babies Have Grown!
I do have 4 seedlings that are still quite small (because the seeds took forever to germinate), but the rest (all 20 of them!) are basically the same size as the one in the picture.  It's actually quite astounding - they have really shot up since I repotted them a week ago.  My seedlings are a bit leggier than J’s but, I must say, I am still a VERY proud tomato seedling mama right about now! 
This post is shared on Green Thumb Thursdays at Grow a Good Life.

Till next time…


  1. Great post and thanks for sharing this at The Green Thumb Thursday Blog Hop! I have featured your post this week and hope you will join us again tomorrow.


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