tomato plants

Each year around this time I start my tomato plants.  For germination I use 3/4″ soil blocks (purchased seed starter mix) and incubate, and once germinated I transfer to 2″ soil blocks in my greenhouse and  later into 32 oz bottom drilled yogurt containers.  I have described the procedures in detail elsewhere on this site.  With each passing year I have become more casual with the mix for the 2″ soil blocks and yogurt containers.  I used to carefully measure out the different ingredients.  Now I just sift ground soil, fully broken down compost and peat, and then add some lime to compensate for peat acidity.  And they do well.

Of more interest is the varieties.  Previously, most of my seed was from Johnny’s but last year I bartered 6 plants for one of my neighbor’s Park’s Whoppers.  This outstanding producer was disease resistant and was the first and last to bear tomatoes.   Taste was not as good as my heirlooms but you can’t have everything!  So I decided to buy more from Park Seed and this January I bought their Whopper; Black Krim Organic; German Johnson; Cherokee Purple Organic and Chocolate Cherry.   I also used Johnny’s Black Cherry and Cherokee Purple purchased Jan ’15.  And also seed collected from my plantings – Oxheart; Sugar Cherry and Juliette.  I seeded Jan 24 and almost all the seed germinated.  My collected seed may have been cross-pollinated and may not run true.  But it’s fun to experiment and see what does well.

The photo above is of one of my 2 seed trays and holds 36 – 2″ seed blocks.  It’s on 3/4″ plywood base which protects the tray when I move it.  Since my greenhouse  is not heated I bring the tray in when temp is projected below 35 degrees, as it is tonight.  I have a min/max thermometer in the greenhouse and I leave the other, less important, tray in the greenhouse so I can observe the effect of sub freezing temps.  It seems when the plant is <1″ high it is unaffected down to the mid 20’s.   I will probably start up another batch of tomatoes in March to see, if by replacing the plants, I can achieve a longer harvest.

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