Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Starting Tomatoes from Seed

Part of a the crop from LAST year.

This is the Year of the Tomato here on the Little Farm!  We've got 70 (yes, you read that correctly) 7-0, little beauties in the ground out there and they are all looking great.  If you are doing a bit of quick math in your head, you are realizing how many tomatoes we may end up with come September.

Do we have a tomato death wish?  Are we envisioning paying for the Young'uns college education through tomato sales?  Have we been tipped off to some worldwide tomato shortage by the International Tomato Advisory Council?

No.  Actually, not a bad idea....hmmmm.  And no.

We just really like tomatoes and things made from tomatoes.  We like them raw - I even eat them like apples.  (In fact, I cannot wait for to eat them raw.  I haven't bought a fresh tomato at the store since last summer.)  We like salsa and tomato sauce and ratatouille and tomato soup and "sundried" tomatoes and the list goes on. 

We also like making the above items with tomatoes we've grown ourselves.  Homemade and home canned salsa and sauce and soup is AMAZING!  Not to mention cheaper than the swanky comparable stuff in stores and, well, I know everything that goes into it.  I like that, too.

Last year, our tomatoes did pretty poorly and we actually, I am not proud to admit, had to BUY tomatoes.  It was still worth it to us, but it did sting our "farmer" pride and pockets.  This year will be different!

How's that for optimism?

One of pots with seeds that didn't make it.

We ordered several types of tomato seeds from Fedco so if one doesn't work, something else surely will.  Also, variety is one of the great things about growing your own food.  Have you ever noticed there are pretty much only 3-4 types of tomatoes at the grocery store?

After making my nifty little paper pots , we planted 93 of those pots with tomato seeds. 

Here's what we planted:
Opalka Paste Tomato
Jet Star Tomato
Gardener’s Delight Cherry Tomato
Principe Borghese Cherry Tomato
Ida Gold Tomato
Pink Brandywine Tomato
Amish Paste Tomato
Rutgers Tomato

All the duds- ready for the compost pile.

I'm especially excited about the paste tomatoes which we've never tried before!  Homemade spaghetti sauce - here we come.  I'd love your secret family recipe if you have one...

A sweet friend offered to house all our little tomato babies in her amazing greenhouse.  They did great -thanks to her diligent watering and care (she'll be getting a bunch of salsa this Fall) and came back to us all ready to hit the ground.

Of the 93 pots we planted, 23 didn't make it.  We've never planted this many seeds before, so I'm no expert on whether or not that's good.  It made me happy, whatever the germination rate.  We spent about $42.00 on seeds (ALL our seeds, not just the tomatoes).  Getting 70, mostly organic, all non-GMO tomato plants for less than $42.00 is a steal!

The final result - 70 plants and 23 bummers.

After spending a few days getting used to living in the real world, they all went into the ground.  It seemed touch and go with many of them for about a week, but now all the inhabitants of tomato land are thriving.

 So, for now, all is good.  Come September when I am up to my neck (hopefully) in juicy red goodness and I complain a bit, feel free to remind me how excited I was in June.

Welcome to the Year of the Tomato!

Close up.  Isn't it interesting how different the leaves of each variety look?


  1. Good luck! That's a LOT of tomatoes. I've only planted Amish Paste and Opalka before, so you'll have to tell me how the others do.

  2. We tried the paper pots but mold ended up growing on the paper before we could plant! How do you avoid that?

  3. I've planted as many as 60 in one year, but you've got me beat! This year, I'm down to a small garden and a tomato crop that's really too small for us - and it's struggling. Not sure how I'm going to can all of my pizza sauce, salsa, and marinara.

  4. Glen - we got mold, too. I misted the pots with mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide and that took care of it.