Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This is a blog which will be updated with each of the changes in the lives of the tomatoes.
March 24, March 25, March 26, March 28, March 31,  April 1
The color of the date of the edits will be changed.
 Information added on that date will be typed in that color. Scroll down for updates.
Finally it is the day to start my tomatoes.  I have been nervous that maybe I shouldn't have waited till now to start them.  I started the eggplants and peppers over a month ago.  The eggplants are ready to go into their second potting and the peppers are poking along. The following links are their blogs:
I have put the seeds in the dirt and they are ready to go into the propagation chamber.  The moon is coming up to the full phase I hope it pulls these seeds right out of their "shells".  I use exactly the same dirt and methods I use for the peppers and Eggplants.  (refer to either blog)
This is the 16 varieties ready to go into the chamber.
I normally use the  Activia containers  cut in half to start a few seeds (they are slipped in a plastic zipper bag), but I was rummaging in a drawer today and found these larger size sauce containers (used for take out).  They have plastic lids which will keep in the moisture.  They are large enough, when half filled, there is room when the seeds sprout to grow for 24 hours. (There are holes poked in the bottom for drainage.  We keep the chamber about 72-76 degrees for sprouting the tomatoes.
MARCH 20                MAR 24     MAR 25     MAR 26     MAR 28      MAR 31
AUNT RUBY'S                                 2/6             3/6              4/6                5/6
Pinetree 2010  6 sds
BIG MAMA  HYB                                               4/12          5/12                5/12
Burpees 2008 12 sds
??   ??              9 SDS      5/9              9/9               9/9             9/9               9/9
CHEROKEE                                       3/6               3/6             4/6              4/6
SowTrue 2012 6 sds
Mine OP  2009 6 sds
DELICIOUS  12 sds      3/12                7/12        7/12            7/12              8/12
Henry Fields 2010
FLAMINGO HYB         1/8                   1/8           1/8            1/8                2/8
Gurneys ??  8 SDS
GERMAN OLD                                                     2/12          4/12              5/12
MineOP 2013 12 sds                                
GOLDEN RAVE                                   1/8            1/8            1/8                2/8
HYB Gurneys  8 sds
JELLY BEANS HYB       1/ 8                1/8          3/8              3/8                3/8
Gurneys 2010  10 sds
JUBILEE                                                                                                         1/10
Ferry Morse
2009  10 SEEDS
JULIET  HYB                 8/10                 9/10        9/10            9/10              9/10
Jung 2012  10 sds
ORANGE HYB                                                     1/8                 1/8              2/8
WHOPPER  8 sds
Gurneys 2013
SUN SUGAR HYB        5/9                    8/9          8/9                9/9              9/9
Pinetree 2012 9 sds
I have two other packages of Jelly Bean tomatoes and I want to start a few of each just in case the others don't sprout.  I also want to start some more of the "Compost Gold".  We will be saving seeds from two of our tomatoes.  They each have a story:
COMPOST GOLD:  This tomato was found growing in the compost pile.  It is a jawbreaker size yellow cherry tomato (we have never grown yellow cherry tomatoes). The skin was thin.  It continued to flower and produce after the first frosts. The flavor was outstanding even for a yellow tomato.  The color was a brilliant gold.   Hence the name Compost Gold.

GERMAN OLD TIMERS has a wonderful story behind it, albeit long one.  I was on a trip to buy hay for my goats, cows and sheep.  I drive past a state park named "Babler Park". On the way there is someone who always has a small kitchen garden.  I noticed he had a veggie stand and could see squash on the table.  I stopped to buy some (my squash plants had been inundated with the borers.)  Also on the table I saw these green tomatoes.  They were on the medium size and I commented it was nice of him to pick his tomatoes green so people could make fried green tomatoes.

"Lady, Dem's ripe." He volunteered.

"They are still green, where did you find tomatoes still green when ripe?"  I replied incredulously in 1998.

"Da Ole guy, don the street, brung dem from Germany, gived me the seed."

"Do you know the name of the variety?" I asked.

"Nope, I din forgot, was long time ago.  Can't ask him, he dead."

I bought a pound of them, thinking it was a mistake.  When I got home I examined them and they felt ripe.  I cut into the softest one and cautiously took a bite.  Taste sensation moment.  If I closed my eyes it was the reddest tomato I had ever tasted with lemony overtones. 

The closest I can guess, is it is probably kin to the zebra tomato.  I have been saving my own seed from it since that day.  We named them German Old Timers because the original seed came from an old man from Germany.

MARCH 24:  I picked red because it is a red letter day.  I couldn't wait to get on the computer to write this update.  Last night seconds before I went to bed I remembered I hadn't checked the seeds for the evening.  I really did not expect anything being it was only 3 1/2 days since I put them in the chamber.  Much to my surprise there was sprouting just starting in two varieties.  Four plants, just unbending, in the Juliet's and 1 plant in the Sun Sugar. If I had left them, in the chamber in the dark, till this morning they would have become gangly.  This morning they were already an inch high and they had developed their first leaves.  The picture on the left is our first tomato sprouts.  I didn't realize until I took this picture I had put the wrong date on the labels.  They were started on the 20th, not the 21st.
 It is snowing very hard right now.  It didn't start till about 6 this morning after raining all night.  We are due for lots of snow today, who would have thunk!Normally I am picking lettuce outside, but the only thing growing in my garden is last years lemon thyme.  I have covered and uncovered, (with two large plastic buckets inside of each other for insulation)  to keep it from freezing.  It worked too.  It has been growing, albeit slowly and I have been harvesting all winter. 

Another herb that definitely says get growing tomatoes is basil. When I set the seed for the peppers I also planted Siam queen basil and sweet basil.  This week when they move to larger homes,  I will be able to pinch the top set of leaves off to have with chicken sandwiches..or even on pasta . These basils left their nursery tray on March 7th.  They weren't even a 1/2 inch tall at that time.  This picture was taken March 22.

MARCH 25:   It is still snowing and we have at least 11 inches on the ground.  The snow is real fine (like a mist that is frozen).  There is a wind today..Not a gusty one, it is steady about 10 mph.  Inside though me and the seedlings are doing just fine. 

In the last 24 hours we have had a population explosion.  I find myself getting anxious for the ones which have shown no sign of life.  I proofed the "Compost Gold" seeds and on the one set I had 80% germination.  They haven't shown they are "in the dirt"yet.  I just checked the dates and it took them 6 days to germinate.  Today is only 5 days.  I guess I need to be patient.  The other tomato "German Old Timers" I didn't proof because it was seed I collected last fall  and it wasn't old and it was processed properly when I collected it.  Of the older seeds I know to be patient, they do need a longer germination time.

This is the blog I wrote when I proofed some of my seeds.

Something I need to mention for those reading who are beginners;  When your tomatoes sprout don't be alarmed if they look extremely skinny and fragile.  I don't know why, but the tomato seedlings are terribly thin compared to their pepper and Eggplant cousins.  They also seem to take an interminable length of time before they set their second leaves.  Place those seedlings as close to the light source as possible.  Mine are no more than an inch some are almost touching.  (Do not let the leaves touch the bulbs).

MARCH 26:  A couple of more varieties sprouted during the night.  I am getting a little anxious about my newest seed from Gurneys.  The orange whopper has just sprouted one and I only planted 8 seeds because it was fresh seed.  

I have had a large percentage of "trapped" seeds.  Where the shell doesn't pop off.  some of them have not grown enough for me to pinch it off like I did for the peppers and eggplants.   There are pictures in the pepper blog how I "un trap" a seedling.

The snow has stopped and what melting which did occur froze over making heavy ice.  Walking to the barn will be treacherous this morning.  Something a little off topic but note worthy, we had a Towhee show up at the bird feeder yesterday.  They are normally a very shy bird but he stayed around for half the day.  I hope we weren't his truck stop on the way to somewhere else.  Last year we didn't have towhees..but previous years we have always had a resident pair.

Today I will be potting more tomato seeds just in case and I will probably start some more basils and some lettuce.

MARCH 28:  Getting more anxious about the germination of some of the seeds.  I know it is only 8 days.

MARCH 31:  It is Easter Sunday, the end of Passover is tomorrow.  It is the season of renewal.  Today it is just that in our household.  The tomatoes are finally ready to do it in the "dirt".  They are ready to make the transitions to real pots.  For us it is the activia containers, using the mix they have come from mixed with My special potting mix.  It is also time to begin another blog on this stage of their lives.  I will post the link here when I post the blog.

I am very disappointed I have two varieties which didn't sprout. I know it  only 11 days and am still hoping more will sprout.  I will plant more of these and hope the seed isn't bad.  The biggest disappointment is the "Gurneys Orange Whopper".  This was new seed and to have only two sprout.  I will be calling the company.  If the viability is this poor in the fresh seed, It certainly won't grow next year. (I still have the other 2/3 of the packet to use). 

The "Compost Gold", I am wondering if I got the labels mixed up and this was the wrong seed that I proofed.  I had two sources I saved seed from.  One was the fruit which was fresh which I refered to as "wet"  and a fruit that was dried on the vine "dry".  This is the blog about proofing seeds:

APRIL 1:   I haven't finished the blog for yesterday "Moving Day".  I did want to put a note about the pots I used for starting the seed.  The larger "take  home sauce" pots were the absolute perfect container.  I will buy a product if it is in a container I can recycle for the garden.  The reason they were perfect is they had enough room when 1/2 filled to plant the seed and if it sprouted before you got there, there was room between the soil less mix and the lid.  The lid held the moisture in till sprouting (no need for plastic bags, sliding containers in and out).  They were small enough you didn't have a lot of mix used.  You could plant 4 seeds and extract the seedlings without damage.  (I did put nine seeds in a couple and they did fine.  I just had to soak the plants to loosen the medium from around the roots).  Then there was the coup d' gras.....they have outwardly sloping sides.  This made it easy to wet the root ball and slide it right out of the container. 

The containers I am referring to are the ones in the opening picture of this article.  As you can see we also use cut down activia containers.  These work well but they have to be put in a plastic bag to keep moist in the propagation chamber. 

The following blogs are blogs I've written about previous gardening of tomatoes:

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