Buying Tomato and Pepper Plants Early and How to Take Care of Them

Sometimes, in order to get the varieties you want, you just have to buy them earlier than you want, just to get them. I start my selling season on April 15th and no way can you put them out at that time.

Sometimes you want a certain variety such as Beauty King, Blush, Brad’s Atomic Grape, Cherokee Purple Heart, Vintage Wine, or Pruden’s Purple. Unless you grow them from seed you probably aren’t going to find them anywhere.

What about peppers? Try finding plants of Biquinho, Royal Black, Filius, Jalapeno Tajin, or Lemon Drop at a farmer’s market.

My customers who are savvy come early so they can get the more unusual or rare varieties. Naturally, they need to know how to keep them happy. So I school them n the dos and don’ts of what to do.

#1 Available real estate. When you buy a plant check the root ball. It may fill the pot and you will need to transplant them into a bigger pot to keep them growing. One of the reasons that I start some really early and put them into a gallon-size pot. Real Estate is everything for a plant. Below is the same variety of petunia. One was transplanted into a larger pot, and the other stayed in its old container. The difference is amazing.

#2 They need light. You can’t put them in your garage or basement with a lightbulb and consider it good. Even a bright window is not going to be satisfactory for any length of time. They need to go outside and get used to the weather. that being said if it is going to be over 40 at night when you set them out, leave them out. Also, watch out for wind and hail. If you buy a lot, consider putting them in a wagon or a sled or (use your creativity) and bring them out all at once rather than one at a time.

#3 They will need water. The nice thing about a bigger pot is that there is more soil volume and they don’t dry out as fast. In a smaller container, you really need to keep an eye on their water requirements.

#4 They will get hungry. we use a lot of organic amendments in our potting soil so they are set when we transplant but due to leaching (continuous watering dilutes the fertilizer every time you water), they will need more fertilizer be it organic or non-organic. Use the fertilizer you like, organic, non-organic, miracle-gro, or fish emulsion at half-strength every couple of weeks when you water. Light green tomato plants are especially unattractive.


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