Transplanting Volunteer Tomatoes

Volunteer plants are ones that sprout on their own without a person planting or caring for them. We often find volunteer tomatoes in our garden after birds and other animals eat some of our tomatoes and spread the seeds. This year, we had planted tomato seeds instead of seedlings, and the seeds never sprouted. However, we were still able to get tomatoes after a staff gardener brought in some volunteer tomatoes they had found in another garden they work in. We planted a few of these volunteer tomatoes in the beds where the seeds had not sprouted back on Community Garden Day.

A few weeks later, we found some large, healthy volunteer tomatoes growing on the opposite side of the garden as the others. These two volunteer tomatoes both had flowers, and one even had some small green tomatoes starting to develop. Instead of removing these volunteer tomatoes as a giant weed in the potato bed, we moved them to an empty bed where more seeds had failed to sprout.

We cleared the weeds out the bed next to the herbs where the soil moisture sensor is located, and dug two large holes. Then, we put some compost on the bottom of each hole to help the tomatoes survive transplanting. We dug around the base of the volunteer tomatoes until their roots were out of the soil, and then buried them in the holes we had prepared. When moving volunteer plants, avoid pulling on them when getting the plant out of the soil, because that can overly damage the roots. We watered the tomatoes after replanting, which were drooping minutes after being dug out of the soil. Hopefully, these plants will survive being moved. The small tomatoes growing on the one plant will unlikely be ripe soon considering the plant must now focus a lot of energy on re-developing its root system.

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recently transplanted volunteer tomatoes
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