Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tomato Plants and First Harvest

The tomato plants are growing! We purchased some stakes to support the plant when it gets big enough. After doing a bit of research, it looks like we planted too many tomato plants per container. We should really only have ONE plant per container. So, next step is to take away some of the plants-- either killing them off or re-transplanting them.

Then, when our tomato plants are about 2 feet tall we will put the tomato stakes into the containers. This will hopefully train our plants to grow upwards instead of falling and sprawling all over the place.

Unfortunately, the cukes are not doing as well as the tomatoes. So, I may be in favor of removing the cukes for the time-being and replacing them with some of the cooler-weather seedlings I have growing in my apartment (particularly the spinach and arugula). We will also be re-arranging much of the lettuce and herbs to make room for some new plants.

In other great news, we had our first small harvest yesterday of cilantro, watercress, and lettuce. The small harvest brought up an important question: what is the best way to harvest lettuce without killing it! I liked Katherine's method of trimming away some of the bigger leaves. I also found a short video about how to harvest lettuce. The video suggests waiting until the lettuce is fully grown and then cutting off the entire head of lettuce.

However, we can harvest baby lettuce as well by cutting the leaves when they're about 3 to 6 inches tall. This should should be around 28 to 45 days after planting. Instructions I've found on Earthbound Farms' website says to use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the leaves about 3/4 inch from the soil surface. The great news is that if we fertilize the plants well after the first harvest, the plant should grow back again for a second harvest (known as “cut and come again”). I think this may be our preferred method.


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