The Great Tomato Takeover
This is my third year in growing heirloom tomato plants from seed, and by far, my most ambitious. Last week I completed the task of transplanting the tiny seedlings into individual pots — 454 of them.
When I tell people that I have over 400 tomato plants growing, they immediately think I have a greenhouse. Well, not in the traditional sense of the word. My greenhouse is the family room with a lovely, large, south facing window. Nearly every surface is covered in plants.
Thankfully, this indoor tomato jungle is temporary; in another week or so the plants will be moved into the garage to harden-off, and then be ready for sale. If you are interested in purchasing plants, you can find the list and description of varieties here.
I’m trying something new this year by growing the plants in 20-ounce paper coffee cups. I’ve seen other growers use these, and I like the cups for a couple of reasons, 1) they are less expensive than plastic pots 2) the cups are recyclable, and 3) they allow for a deeper transplant, which means more of the plant’s stem can be covered and that promotes a stronger root system. The plants are doing great in the cups, so next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, consider the potential before tossing the cup into the trash!
Of course, tomatoes aren’t the only veg I’m growing inside. This year we are branching out with basil and a limited number pepper plants; followed by cucumber and summer squash offerings. Let me tell you, it is a labor of love to transplant those tiny basil seedlings into pots (which is why you will get 3 plants in every pot!).
But not all the action is happening inside. The warmer-than-usual days of late March allowed me to get a jump on the outdoor gardening chores, and provided an opportunity to get a few rows of peas and radishes started in the covered raised beds. We’ve already had several large harvests of arugula, spinach, lettuce and kale, and I still find that pretty amazing for northern Idaho.
The covered beds have really been wonderful for getting a jump on the season, especially with our relatively short growing season. After a long winter, there is nothing better than getting your hands back in the dirt!
What about you? How are your seed starts coming along? Let me know in the comments below!