Seedlings are ready to be pricked out when the first true leaf is about 20mm long.
You will need one pot for every seedling – at this stage allow about 10% extra. Pots with a diameter of 13cm (volume 1 litre) are a good size. You can use the same compost that you used for sowing, but you may need to liquid feed the plants if you are growing them for several weeks in the pots. Fill the pots to the brim as the compost will settle once it is watered. Make a hole deep enough to take the roots without curling. If you are using plug trays, use a cocktail stick to help ease the plug out; if your seedlings are in a tray, hold them by a cotyledon (seed leaf) and ease them out using a small spatula or the handle of a spoon. Plant them so that the cotyledons are just above the surface of the compost. Do not firm them in – water them in gently. Check them every day and give them a light watering as required. Make sure the leaves are dry before evening, as the seedlings are more likely to ‘damp off’ (rot) if they go to bed with wet leaves.
Did You Know?
British tomato production amounts to about 65,000 metric tonnes per year (approximately 2 billion tomatoes!)- about a fifth of the total volume of tomatoes sold in the country through the year, and up to a half in the summer.