Transplanting tomatoes

I tried transplanting tomato plants last year with little success. What vegetable plants transplant from indoor starts well and is there something I should have done to the tomatoes to help them adjust to the outdoor environment? Thanks for your help. Love the magazine!

Renee Goodman

I’m so sorry you had trouble with transplanting your tomatoes last spring. They really are among the easiest of garden plants to transplant, too. Here are a few hints: First, when you transplant them from the seedling tray to their individual cells or containers, plant them deep enough that only the top few leaves show above the potting medium. Tomatoes are hardy buggers and will set roots all along the stem, making them grow even better.

As they approach setting out time, take them to a sheltered place outside in the warm sun for an hour or two, letting them gradually acclimate to “outside.” Then extend the time slowly. Keep them out of severe winds and hard sunlight. You don’t want them on the south side of your house, right up against a white wall, for instance; you don’t want to cook them!

Less of this hardening off is necessary when you plant the seedlings in Wall’o Water plant protectors. These tipis protect the plants from wind and the fluctuations of temperature.

When it is time to set them out, do it on a moderate day, not a hot day. And again, plant them so that only the top “bunch” of leaves are out of the soil. If the plants have grown spindly and leggy, having a very long stem, dig a trench and lay the plant down in the trench, gently curving the very top upward. Now bury the root ball and stem. As before, the entire stem will grow roots and soon this weakling plant will astound you. I don’t mulch my plants until they are growing well and the temperatures have warmed up well. Mulching too early will actually keep the roots too cool to grow well.

Good luck this year and buy a new wheelbarrow for your huge harvest!


Trimming tough hooves

I love your articles and I am hoping that this vet tip will help someone else.

We had a little goat (small nubian) and her feet were as tough as nails. I had a vet tell me a trick that really helps.

Take a gallon plastic food bag with no ziplock or cut it off and put an old rag, I use old towels or washcloths, and then place it in the plastic bag and put 1/4 Cup corn oil (vegetable oil would be fine) and then take the animals foot and place it inside the rag that has been saturated with the oil and then duct tape the plastic bag boot on the hoof. This works best when it is warm outside.

I don’t do it too tight, but I put duct tape on the bottom of the plastic bag and then on the sides up the leg, only to the top of the bag, which should be just above the hoof. The next day you will be able to cut through hooves like they are butter. The vet said you could also do this with any kind of foot rot medication that you may need to treat your animal with. She looks like she had moon boots on but it is better than the other alternative of a lame goat. Her standing in mud didn’t soften up her hooves.

In the newspaper a while ago they said that some animals had to be put down because their feet were too hard and they were considered a loss. I wish they could have tried this. It may not have worked but it may have. There is nothing that replaces timely foot care, but tough hooves are a problem no matter what length. Could this possibly be a nutritional issue? My other goats are fine though.

I have used so many of your great tips, I hope that this can help some one else. Just remember not too tight with the tape, for you don’t want to cut off their circulation.

M. Chapin

Great idea with the oil! If you can keep your goat in Moon Boots without the other goats laughing her out of the barnyard. No. Just kidding. Mud has always worked with my animals.

I really doubt that the newspaper was right about hard hooves being a reason to put animals down. I’ve trimmed a whole lot of feet in my day, from goats to draft horses, and I’ve always gotten the job done using sharp hoof nippers and a sharp rasp or with goats, a good pair of sharp, good quality pointed pruning shears. And a lot of experience.

With goats, those long ski toes I first snip across the ski, cutting off the long part. This leaves a “tunnel” from the toe to work the pruners into and begin cutting toenail towards the heel. By working back and forth up and down the foot, it is quite quickly flat and even. If pruning shears won’t do the job on hard feet, I use the horse nippers.

Out of hundreds of goats, I’ve never failed to produce a decent trimming job, no matter how hard the feet. But the oil trick sure sounds slick. I’ll sure try it if I need softer goat feet!