Going Gaga over Tomatoes!

| March 17, 2014 | 8 Replies

Going gaga over tomatoes is what happened to me in December when I found myself on Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I ordered eleven varieties of seeds, one in every color and shape. And then, garden friends sent me a few seeds from four more varieties. Other than direct-seeding a handful of Yellow Pear tomatoes last year, the rest of my tomato plants were purchased at Tomatomania, so this was my first experience starting all my tomatoes from seed. 

Going Gaga over Tomatoes-tray

Tomato seedlings

I seeded a few leftover Yellow Pear seeds to bring the total varieties to sixteen. With the exception of three varieties given to me, each variety occupied nine, or more, cells in my seeding trays, a total of 72 +72 + 25 = 169 cells seeded with one or two seeds.

Now, I don’t have a farm, and I don’t sell at a farmer’s market. What in the world was I thinking? As Lisa at The Self Sufficient Homeacre just wrote in her humorous blog “20 Warning Signs You’re a Seed Junkie,” #1, I have more seed packets than I ever will be able to plant. When you open a fresh packet of seeds, I find it hard to only use nine seeds.

I seem to have had a plant tag deficiency this year. I never have plant tags when I’m seeding. I got tired of going to stores that were sold out of them, and didn’t order online in time to plant, and I ran out after five tags. I devised a clever way, I thought, to mark all my seeds. I came up with a graphic for each tray. This eliminated plant tags! Here’s one of four trays planted (also planted a lot of peppers, a few cucumbers and squash).

Going Gaga over Tomatoes

Color-coded seed grid

There was one hitch. As I don’t have a grow light, I have to move my trays outside during the day to get some light (I’m in Southern California, so I can do that in January), but what if I happen to forget which is top and which is bottom? I put a sliver of silver tape on the top left corner!

There were weeks of taking them out for morning sun, dragging them into afternoon shade (it has gotten up to 80 some days in March!), and taking them into the living room at night.

Going Gaga over Tomatoes-all

All My Children (seedlings)

It’s been two months, most germinated, some didn’t and the tomatoes are ready to pot up. It took two-hour sessions over three days! And I had to come up with something to mark all the tomatoes. (More trips to garden stores turned up nothing.)

Going Gaga over Tomatoes

Detail Red Cherry tag

At any point, I could have sacrificed half of each variety, but I am a mother, and mothers care for their children. I fretted about what would happen to them while I’m away, and decided this spot under the wisteria would be best, filtered light and somewhat protected from wind. My husband has directions how to water.

Going Gaga over Tomatoes-all

All seedlings potted up

The finished touch was a sheet of voile (which I had used in the winter garden to keep cabbage moths from laying eggs on brassicas), to keep the wisteria droppings and flies off.

Going Gaga over Tomatoes-voile

Tomato seedlings covered in voile

Total tomato seedlings, 122! I have room for maybe 15 plants. There’s something about planting a seed and nurturing it for months. You have to give it a chance, right?

Are you seeding tomatoes for this summer? Please let me know your techniques. Thanks for reading! New “Late Bloomer” episodes coming soon! – Kaye


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Seeds

Comments (8)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. lisa lynn says:

    Going gaga over your gorgeous seedlings! I understand completely your, ahem, compulsion to plant little baby tomatoes in extravagant numbers 🙂
    I’m seriously jealous of your plants sitting outside soaking up the sunlight! It’s 30+ Fahrenheit here today and I have about 2 weeks before I start the first of my seedlings under lights.

    Thanks for sharing a link to my post! 🙂

    • I just don’t know how you all can get it all in in a half year. I mean, with goats and chickens and writing a blog and what else? I’m exhausted with my small garden, haha. Yes, the weather’s nice, but there’s never a break to gear up. And we have those nasty quakes….. 🙁 Thanks for your support, Lisa!!

  2. I love your colorful (and, apparently, color-coded) map of the tomato stars. It’s a great idea! I use small computer-printed adhesive return address labels for my seedling pots but your flags (are those wood skewers?) also provide support for the voile. Very nice! It is impossible not to seed more plants than will fit in the garden. Good luck finding homes for all of them.

    • Yes, Andy, that will be a challenge! I offered some to a neighbor who keeps saying she’s going to dig up her front yard grass and put in raised beds. Although when I returned from my 9 day trip there was mildew on the cucumber and squash plants. I’m afraid the recommendation of a gardener (vinegar water 50/50) was extreme, and the bath I gave them almost killed them. I figure if they survive, the mildew won’t. 🙂 Thanks for reading! Has it thawed up there? – Kaye

  3. Eugene says:

    Yes, I too have many seeds, but not 121 tomato seedlings. What an amazing story!
    I ordered more seeds today. I need help. I’m Eugene and I am a seedholic.
    Are you going to start an Eden garden? Looking forward to new episodes.

    • Eugene, I’ve just learned about Eden gardening. I plan to get a load of tree trimmings as soon as I can and dump it on the driveway. The thing is, here, it’s year-round gardening so I need to plant for summer by April 15th. I’m thinking I’ll have to carefully put the wood chips around each plant after they are established. If you have advice for me, I’d love to hear it! Have you seen my Growing Green Peas, Part 1, the newest? Part 2 will be online in a day or two. Thanks for your support! And if you would like some seeds, I’ve got plenty to share. Just tell me what you want. – Kaye

  4. ninagarden says:

    Where are you going to plant all these? I am always amazed at how big tomatoes get. I can’t believe you have so many! You need to buy a farm! Maybe you can mail some to San Diego. :-0 I know my daughter’s school would take them too for the school garden. That’s incredible.-Nina

Leave a Reply