As soon as tomatoes have formed the first correct pair of leaves, you need to prick them out. In many cases, the wrong substrate is used for transplanting, which means that the plants hardly form roots or fall over immediately. That’s why we tell you in which soil you should prick tomatoes.

Nutrient-poor substrate

Potting soil is used to sow the tomato seeds. This is a nutrient-poor substrate that promotes root formation. A rather nutrient-poor substrate is also the right choice if you separate the tomato plants. The pricking soil may already contain a small amount of nutrients so that the tomatoes do not have to be transplanted again within a few weeks.

You can also easily mix the soil for pricking tomatoes yourself:

  • 2 parts potting soil
  • 1 part vegetable soil
  • 1 part aggregate substrate

So-called aggregate substrates are materials that loosen up the soil and ensure ventilation. This prevents waterlogging, which is a common cause of young plant death. In addition, some aggregates can also store water and later release it back into the environment.

Suitable additives for tomatoes are:

  • fine expanded clay
  • Perlit
Note: For environmental reasons, you should avoid using plastic additives such as styrofoam. This can be taken up again by the plants in the form of microplastics and deposited in edible parts.

Transplant tomatoes

Unlike other plants, tomatoes should be repotted before planting. The reason for this is that after the plants have built up a lot of root mass in the poor substrate, it is now time to grow in size. For this, the plants need a nutrient-rich soil, which you can also mix again yourself.

Composition of a nutrient-rich substrate for tomato young plants:

  • 2 parts tomato soil
  • 1 part growing substrate
  • 1 part aggregate
Tip: This mixture is suitable not only for tomato seedlings, but also for other vegetables.

When transplanting, you should give the seedlings not only a larger, but also a deeper pot. Planting the tomatoes deeper encourages the formation of more roots on the stem. The prerequisite for this is that the substrate is richer in nutrients and that it is also worthwhile for the plants to form more roots.

Avoid damping-off

Damping-off is a fungal infection that mainly affects plants after pricking out. The reason for this is the wrong care and the wrong substrate. If the soil is too nutrient-rich for pricking out, it can happen that the young plants of the tomatoes (and many other types of vegetables or herbs) do not form nice roots. The stalk becomes shriveled in the area just above the ground and thus the upper part is no longer supplied. The plants then simply fall over and die.

Damping-off mainly affects seedlings and young plants after pricking out. If you do not use a substrate from the trade, but rather a self-mixed seeding soil or a substrate for separating, you must sterilize the substrate in the oven before use.

Sterilization instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Moisten soil and spread on baking sheet
  • cover with aluminum foil and put in the oven
  • Alternatively fill in a roaster or roasting tube
  • steam for 30 minutes
  • Let the substrate cool down
Note: Older substrate from the trade can also be contaminated with the fungal spores. You should therefore always sterilize old soil before use.

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