Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Starting my Seeds


Sorting out seeds

Sorting out seeds

Unpredictable temperatures did not deter me from sorting out my seeds and getting started the first week of March. I know, that was probably too soon, but for you readers, now will not be a bad time to start. I intend to put this crop out under cover in the middle of April.  Last frost dates for our area are between the 21st and the 31st of April. Besides, not being able to get out and work in the garden was driving me nuts!

seed starting1

Here they were all tucked in and labeled.

So, I am off and running.  Now, so I remember next year, I only planted my long season vegetables, to me, these are tomatoes, peppers, leeks and eggplant.  If I plant these as direct sow in the ground, they will not have fruit until very late if at all in our climate.  I learned that last year, when at first frost, green peppers , eggplant and tomatoes were not ready to harvest.  It also helps to check the amount of days from germination to maturity provided as all varieties and cultivars are different.

Three weeks later.

Three weeks later.

They are doing quite nicely under the fluorescent light fixture in my basement, I rigged a shelf, -plywood covered with aluminum foil-. I then hung it right from the fixture with twine that I can adjust as they grow.  Pretty rustic but works!

Of course it would be simpler to buy your seedling from a reputable green house.  I grow mostly heirloom vegetables as I do not like my seeds altered.  I wrote about the difference between heirlooms, hybrids and GMO seeds in my post on Shopping for Seeds and I was amazed by what technology and the seed companies are doing to manipulate our seed supply.  Another reason to consider heirloom varieties is that we are loosing so many old classics and our field of options keeps getting smaller as years go by.  This is an important way to preserve the diversity of our food choices. Also, with heirlooms you can harvest the seed and preserve it from year to year which is the reason we have them today.  Some varieties can be traced to ancient times! I intend to keep seeds from my favorites and make sure they survive for years to come.
“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow — perhaps it all will.”
Albert Einstein


Vegetable Garden Update

Temperatures have been fluctuating wildly in western Pennsylvania.  Last year was my first real experience on the vegetable garden.  Builded the raised beds in the fall the year before (2011) and added a fence all around the garden last spring just in time for planting. Here is a sampling of the most successful crops:

vegetables2 vegetables3 vegetables4 vegetables1

The potato “Purple Majesty” produced about the amount in the picture x three.  Not a huge yield but they were delicious so I saved some ‘seed’ potatoes and they are happily growing this year too.  Zucchini was so bountiful it was ridiculous, way too many, everyday.  It got so, that I had to drop and run at neighbors front  doors! This year, only two plants.  I learned that they require a large amount of real state better utilized for my leaf crops which were my everyday go to crop:  Spinach, kale, chard and assorted lettuce.

Tomatoes  were fantastic except I planted way too many also.  They became a jungle of tangled vines.  I lost many tomatoes simply because I could not physically rescue them from the impenetrable mess!  I was grateful that they did not succumb to the many threats you are always reading about and I still had several baskets full everyday.  I am still enjoying them in sauce, sofrito ( a spanish  mixture of onions, garlic, and tomatoes fried and reduced in olive oil with safron and cumin).  I also froze whole tomatoes in freezer bags that were better than canned and easy to add to soups and stews. I just finished those!  At the end of the season, I harvested the Yellow Pear green tomatoes that were left in the vine and pickled them with herbs in large jars that went right in the refrigerator and lasted for months.

Of course, if you grow tomatoes, you better start a whole lot of Basil, I grew many different kinds last year.  Genovese,  Lettuce leaf, Thai, and Lime basil.  Can’t ever have too much.  As soon as it starts blooming, the pesto making starts and you can have pesto right through the winter.  If you are into salsas, then you will want peppers as well. Mine did not do well at all, in fact, I grew a great plant that never bloomed and did not produced a single fruit so out with them and I gave up but I am trying again this year.  We shall see.

So start those seeds, not too late for basil, parsley, beans, squash, zucchini and most beans.  Carrots, beets radish and many other root crops can be put in now as well or put in some seedlings and watch them grow and produce.  Nothing gives more satisfaction that eating your own produce and being able to share it with your friends.  Let me know how it goes and what you learn as I am a newbie when it comes to food crops!

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  
Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself.
–  Henry David Thoreau