If your school is equipped with the facilities to extend the experiment or if some of the students plan to grow the tomato plants until they bear fruit, these suggestions may help the process. Transplanting can take place indoors or outdoors. In all cases, students should be encouraged to handle the plants with care.
After weeks of growth (the plant should be approximately 14 to 18cm), transfer the plants, including the peat pellets, to the final indoor containers - 10 to 20 litre pots. Leave the plants in the pellets so as not to disturb the roots.
When transplanting, the root ball should be soaked. Bury the plant halfway up the stem and do not be concerned if bottom leaves become covered with soil. Tomato plants grow well under bright sun conditions. After the plants have achieved a height of 35 cm, they will need extra support. Using strips of soft cloth (about 2 cm by 25 cm), tie the plant stem in 2-3 places to a support stake that extends at least 1 metre above the ground. Wire tomato cone cages or other commercial support devices may also be used.
Tomato flowers will begin to appear in about 30 days after transplanting and will be ready for pollination. You can stimulate the self-pollination by shaking the plant gently every few days, holding the stem at the middle of the plant with the thumb and forefinger.
After approximately six weeks of indoor growth, set the plants in pots or trays outdoors for a short time each day to adapt to the cold and wind. The first exposure should last approximately 15 minutes. Gradually lengthen the exposure time to several hours per day during a two-week period. Do not set the plants in wind for several days. Water the plants sparingly but do not apply fertilizer. After two weeks of "cold hardening" the plants may be transplanted outdoors as long as the daytime temperature generally exceeds 15°C and there is no danger of minimum temperatures below 5°C at night.
Pick a cloudy day so the plants will not become water-stressed. Water soak the root ball immediately before transplanting. Place the stem of the plant halfway down in the soil. More roots will form where the stem is buried and anchor the plant in the soil. Water the newly transferred plant until the soil is quite moist but avoid leaving standing water. Continue to water daily but do not completely saturate the soil. Measure and record the new height of the plant as well as the greatest width.
After the plants have achieved a height of 35 cm, they will need extra support. Using strips of soft cloth (about 2 cm by 25 cm), tie the plant stem in 2-3 places to a support stake that extends at least 1 metre above the ground. Wire tomato cages or other commercial support devices may also be used.
Tomato flowers will begin to appear in about 30 days and will be ready for self-pollination. Improved pollination can be achieved from wind, insects and lightly shaking the plants several times per week while the flowers are open.
Tips 'n' Tricks
- Tips 'n' Tricks Home
- Before you begin the Tomatosphere experiment
- Conducting the Tomatosphere experiment
- The Tomato Seeds
- Recording and reporting your results
- Keeping parents/guardians informed
- Inviting the media
- Hints from your colleagues
- NEW Letter Accompanying Seeds