|Back by popular demand!
|Seneca County Farm to School Home Garden Starter Kits
After the success of last spring's seed kit distribution project, CCE Seneca has decided to provide Farm to School (F2S) Home Garden Kits to students for a third year.
Kits will include gardening information, seed starting soil mix, and the below seeds neatly packaged in a reusable bag made from recycled material.
|Home School: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/F2SHome2023_245
|Seneca Falls: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/F2SSenecaFalls2023_245
|South Seneca: https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/F2SSouthSeneca2023_245
|Tutorial 1: Repotting Seedlings
We hope you have been enjoying planting seeds with your Farm to School Home Garden Kit! Your tomatoes seeds are probably starting to get tall if you planted them a few weeks ago, and it may be time to repot them into a bigger container. If you plan to keep your full grown tomato plant in a container you can carefully transplant them into that container now, but they should still stay inside until it is warmer out. If you started the seeds in small egg cartons or recycled paper towel tubes and plan to eventually plant them in a garden outside, you can transplant them into slightly bigger containers to support their stems and give the roots room to spread. Here is a tutorial video that Candace, our Farm to School educator, made for last year’s kits. Some of the seed varieties are different, but it gives you tips on how to transplant seedlings in general: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bbMv6G-SlQ.
It may be tempting on nice days to get started planting seeds directly into the ground, and you can do that with the Swiss chard seeds because they can handle the colder soil temperatures, they are “cold hardy”. The rest of the seeds can be directly planted outside in a couple weeks when the threat of frost is gone and the soil has warmed up. (Don’t worry if you already planted some things outside, they may still grow fine depending on the weather! Just be sure to cover them with newspaper if there is a threat of frost.) If you started most of your seeds inside, there are a few steps to successfully get them into the ground outside in a few weeks, such as thinning seedlings to keep the strongest plant in your starter pot and possibly transplanting into bigger containers as described in the video.
|Tutorial 2: Hardening Off Seedlings
We hope you have been enjoying this beautiful stretch of weather and your Farm to School home garden kits! The weather and soil is warm enough now to plant seeds directly outside into the soil, rather than waiting for the traditional Memorial Day weekend time for planting in NYS. Before you plant your seedling plants directly outside, it is a good idea to prepare them for this transition by “hardening them”. This simply means to place them outside in a mostly shady area for a few days before planting in the garden or placing them in full sun. Candace, our Farm to School educator, made a video about it last year that you can watch here: https://youtu.be/Us8x1BOwhxQ.
|Tutorial 3: Transplanting and Supporting Plants
Hopefully you have had time to transplant your tomato seedlings out into large containers or in the ground. If not, before you get started you can watch last year's video on transplanting seedlings here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7GQe4y7hfE
Now that your tomato plants are in their permanent homes for the season and your other seedlings have emerged and are growing, maintenance will be key while you await your first harvest. Keeping the area around your plants weed free is important as they will compete for nutrients and can quickly take over, which can stunt the growth of your plants. Continuing to weed around your plants every few days or once a week will save you time and energy rather than waiting and trying to pull tall weeds that can be hard to remove and disturb your plants or harvest your produce in an area that is overgrown. Another key task is to physically support your plants as they grow. Not all plants need extra support, but tomatoes are one that often require staking or caging to prevent them from bending over and laying on the ground when there is a heavy crop. Watch our video on supporting your growing plants here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRiko_jb2ZI.
If your tomato plants have been loving this warm weather as much as ours and are getting tall and bushy, it may also be a good time to do a little pruning. It is not required, but pruning allows for better airflow, which can help prevent leaves from becoming diseased, and makes it easier to see and pick your tomatoes. Watch our pruning video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcGhOioYKWg
Last updated March 2, 2023