Tomatoist - Seedlings
By Kevin Grzyb in Food on Apr 25, 2006 6:45PM
We have a strange relationship with our garden and its little green inhabitants. We love and care for them, nurture them like children. From the first time we look into that seedling tray and see that first hint of life, as the soil is ever so gently displaced as they stretch upward reaching for light, we are mezmerized. Every stage of seedling growth is a small miracle to watch; the first shock of green that breaks through the darkened soil, the first split and secondary tier of leaves, when they outgrow the lid of the seedling starter tray...it's eerly similar to a kid. ( Let's face it, a blog is a shy step away from pulling out the wallet and showing pictures.) We will stand three inches deep in mud, flashlight precariously dangling from our teeth, staking our beloved tomatoes up with chopsicks, paint stirrers and kite string in a late night, early summer thunderstorm when the seedlings are pounded by a rain harder than they can handle. These events are often displaced as part of the charm of gardening, stories you share with neighbors over the fence as you talk about fertilizer. You forget the bad times once the first tomato is plucked and on its way to the table. The first one to ripen and get picked never actually makes it to the table, it never makes it out of the garden.
We know we're in for a challange this year. The tomato plants were started from seeds and those seeds were started later than we had hoped. When we should have started the seeds, we were closing on a house and packing and moving; and it was all a bit much. We did however buy a house with a yard and now we can grow our tomatoes however and whereever we want. It is a majestic feeling, even at this small of a scale. The seedlings are a little small, but we've fallen behind before and still managed too get a good harvest. To stack the deck in our favor, we did a little research and looked for varieties that had a bit of a shorter growing season. We also got some of our favorites.
This year we're going for tomatoes - green zebra, red zebra (the relatively new [to us] cousin to the green zebra), tangerine, lemon drop, white wonder. The bonus of starting from seeds is that you get a better selection of varieties, especially looking online, and if you completely screw them up you can always go get some greenhouse raised seedlings from a nursery. We're also trying two types of cucumbers (lemon and muncher), tomatillo, and our first shot at watermelon (sugar baby), these are suposed to be smaller watermelons and really sweet. We've also got herbs: thyme, dill, parsley, oregano, rosemary (transplanted from a windowbox at the old apartment) and chive. And we'll be growing some onions, because our neighbor stopped over the other day with onion bulbs for us to plant.
The seedlings are getting plenty of light and water. Their in a seeding soil mix balanced with the nutrient that they need. The next step is to turn the soil in the yard and prep for planting, the whole yard is trampled mud and grass, so it needs some work. Last frost is May 15th-ish, so we'll be looking to get the seedling in around then.