A quick note about handling vegetable transplants because it’s that time of year when we’ll soon be bringing plants home from garden shops across the continent.
Step one after bringing home.
Water thoroughly. Slowly. Do not immediately flood the plant with the full force of water but slowly with a gentle spray make sure that soil is fully damp.
Often big box stores will allow plants to dry out – the surface may be damp (the kids do a quick once-over with a hose) but the bottoms will be bone dry. Get them thoroughly wet.
Step 2: If you’re going to be planting immediately – ask yourself this question.
Is the outside temperature this plant is going to be dealing with different than the temperature of the retail environment? If out of greenhouse or holding cold frame, the answer is yes. If from an outdoor retail area without protection, then probably not.
If the plant was protected, you really do have to take it through an acclimatization process before leaving outside by itself. The old in and outdoors for longer and longer times over a week. Planting from greenhouse to garden is going to shock the plant. The minimum acclimatization time should be 2 days (indoors at night for 2 nights) but longer is better and this depends on your outdoor temps.
Step 3: If you’re going to be holding the plants for longer than 24 hours then you really want to apply a liquid fertilizer at half strength to those plants.
NOT full strength but half-strength (you’ve just shocked the heck out of this plant by taking it out of greenhouse to retail to home) because you want to feed it but not force it. Help it recover from moving shock. Do this immediately after you’ve finished soaking the plant.
Acclimatize before putting into the garden
Yes. feeding at this level and acclimatizing go on at the same time.
Note this is the same rule for all transplants and not just tomatoes.