As the most recent rains dry from our fields we have begun to transplant baby tomatoes into our fields! Typically, before moving plants out of the greenhouse, seedlings go through a process known as hardening off. Hardening off allows young plants to gradually adjust to fluctuating environmental conditions beyond the walls of our greenhouse. Imagine if you were to move from sunny San Deigo to blustery Montana, it may take your body a little while to adjust to the temperature differences without a good jacket! To accomplish hardening off our plants, they are moved into direct contact with sunlight and other environmental factors for increasing periods of time so that they may become accustomed to growing in unregulated amounts of sun, wind, rain as well as temperatures that fluctuate more than they would in the greenhouse. Like humans, tomatoes love t-shirt weather and grow best at temperatures from 70-75 degrees.
The next step to ensuring out tomato plants' health is providing cages or trellises to support them as their limbs grow heavy with fruit. Support systems must be at least 5 feet tall to ensure that plants do not grow downward because tomato plants tend to stop producing fruit once this happens. Additionally, support systems help ensure that plants are able to dry out within 3 hours of becoming wet to protect against fungal diseases.
It was a beautiful day for a market this past weekend! Thanks to everyone that has been helping spread the word about the weekly farmers markets. It makes a huge difference having such an encouraging community behind our efforts to really get the market going full swing. Don''t forget that tomorrow is National Agriculture day!