Need to HO or PU?

Remember the seeds we labored over a few weeks back…the ones started inside to get a head start on the growing season.  Well, if all has been growing well  it is probably time to “harden off” or “pot up.”  In the style of modern communication; HO or PU.   To HO seedlings, be patient and spend a few days giving them time to acclimate to the outdoors and they should be ready to plant.

In my area (USDA Zone 6, Sunset 2a/3b), it is a good time to plant cool season vegetables and my lettuce and kale are ready to go to their outdoor home.  They’ve spent about 3 days outside, protected from wind, but getting a bit more light exposure each day.  I would typically plant them tomorrow but the night temps are going to dip below freezing in the next couple of days so I’ll wait until they stabilize (hover around 32-33) before planting.  Most cool season vegetables can take a light freeze (29ish-32)  but I don’t want to shock the young seedlings to that extent the first night outside.

If your warm season seedlings have grown well over the last few weeks it may be time to PU. You’ll need some slightly larger containers, seed starting mix, spray bottle and pencil to begin the PU process.  The stems of the young plants are super fragile so be careful and try to handle by leaves if possible.  When they are in the new container be sure to give them a good soak and place back in the growing station for warmer days ahead.

My tomato plants have done very well and I have seedlings of all three varieties I planted.  Remember the tomato seeds my friend sent me?  They have no official name because she couldn’t remember what it was but the plant was so fantastic she wanted to share it.  Well, these babies have shot up especially well and I think just about every seed I planted sprouted!  I have given them the unofficial name of ‘Karen’ as I need to remember them somehow.  I chose terra-cotta pots to plant into as this size container should last until I can get them outside in about three-four weeks.

My Dark Opal Basil and ‘Tequila Sunrise’ Peppers have been a bit slower but I think they will be happier in slightly larger containers as well.  I’m happy they are all a good color and not too leggy.  One thing to consider if your seedlings were started in very small containers (like mine) and their growth is only about 2 inches but seems to have slowed recently,  it may be a good idea to PU.  I found with my basil and peppers the root systems were significant when compared to the size of the seedling and a larger container is perfect to continue growth until ready to head outside in mid-May.

How are your seedlings doing?  Have you successfully planted some outside or are you waiting awhile and deciding to PU?  Share some of your successes or set backs so far this Spring…


6 thoughts on “Need to HO or PU?

  1. Carol

    In reference to the “Karen” seedlings you started, do you know if they are for a short growing season area? Are they cherry tomatoes? What was so spectacular about them?

    1. Hi! Unfortunately, I have limited info. on that tomato plant. She said it was ‘best tomato plant ever’ because it produced so heavily and climbed 7 ft tall into their apricot tree. Also, it was still producing in December but of course that was in the Bay area so wouldn’t be the same in your zone. Karen, if you see this comment can you add any more detail about the “infamous” tomato plant?

      1. Martin Atkinson

        Hi Carol & Andrea! I went back through my garden notes from last year and found the tomato is named “Juliet” and it’s a roma grape tomato (hybrid of a roma and a cherry). I don’t know much about Idaho’s growing season but these do produce pretty quickly and for quite a long time. This is what I found on “Slightly larger than the well-known Santa grape tomato, Juliet bears delicious, sweet fruit on indeterminate vines. Some gardeners refer to it as a mini Roma because of the shape. The wonderfully sweet fruit are crack resistant and remain in good condition on the vine longer than most cherry tomatoes. Quite heat tolerant. Vines are long and vigorous, so give the plant room to roam. Tolerant to late blight and Septoria leaf spot. One of the longest-lasting tomatoes in the garden. Also called Roma Grape. Space 24 to 36 inches apart.”

        The only disturbing note I did find, in light of the fact that I’ve got so many seedlings AND shared the seed with rave reviews (!), is that these *may not* be self-propagating. I guess at this point it’s a wait-and-see and the worst case scenario is we get lots of romas and/or cherry tomatoes! I hope the hybrid characteristics remain because this was truly the best tomato plant we’ve ever grown.

        Hope this helps shed some light on the mystery tomato! If you see “Juliet” at a nursery definitely pick her up — she’s worth it!

      2. Hi Karen,
        Thanks for all the detailed info! I’m super excited for these this summer. I think I may have tried Juliet a couple of years ago…not sure. I think it may be one of the ones I put out too early only to be taken by a late frost. I’ll have to contain myself this time!

  2. Carol

    To Karen,
    Thank you for all the information on that wonderful sounding tomoato. It sounds like it would be a favorite of mine: full of flavor! I’ll be searching for “Juliet” next time I am plant shopping.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s