Tomato seeds planted March 24. Germinated 4 days later. Picture taken April 2 at 9 days old.
It has begun!
I’m going back to the Santa Fe Farmers Market this summer with my tomatoes! I have a lot of new unusual tomatoes started as well as my stable of wonderful favorites for the public.
Pictured above, the baby tomato seeds are inside the house under lights and keep warm on a germination heat mat set at 85°F. They will be transplanted this week into 2 inch pots and later this month they will be transplanted again into 4 inch pots and then finally transplanted outside in the garden in May. Plus I will take some of the plants to the Farmers Market at end of April/May to sell.
Ok, yesterday I made another mess in the kitchen. I transplanted more tomatoes up to bigger pots from 2 inch pots to 4 inch pots. I washed the empty pots in bleach water and after planting them, I fertilized them with a weak solution of fish emulsion and Thrive. I knew I needed to transplant them as their roots were growing out of the bottom and they were starting to look stressed. Stressed? How can they be stresssed when they are in a nice warm cozy house under gro lights in a controlled environment-just wait till they get out in the ground, then they’ll be stressed! I tell them they got it cushy now. I think they know their going out early!
I’m chomping to get the tomatoes out. Patience, I tell myself. I looked up when I planted the tomatoes last year and the year before. Last year I planted tomatoes on May 4th and the year before I planted on April 29th when we had a warmer spring. So I guess I’ll wait till around the first of May. It’s always a guessing game when to plant if you want to plant earlier than the first frost free date which is May 15th here in Santa Fe. I like to try to sneak in the tomatoes early because I grow so many mid-late varieties which can take all the way up to 100 days+ to harvest. We have such a short growing season here in Santa Fe that I use all kinds of season extenders to get them in early so they have more time to ripen before that first frost next fall. OMG! I can’t be talking already about fall, we just got into spring and the plants aren’t even in the ground!
The Heirloom Tomato by Amy Goldman
I just read an article online by Mother Earth News, ‘56 Heirloom Tomatoes Rated Excellent for Flavor‘ that lists tomatoes from Amy Goldman‘s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Table’ which I got last year. The article lists and describes 56 excellent heirloom tomatoes from her book. After reading this excellent article, if you want to know more, her book- ‘The Heirloom Tomato: from Garden to Table‘ is a must have for those of us who want to grow heirloom tomatoes from seeds and get some idea of what we are growing. It’s a beautiful book with wonderful photos of many heirloom tomatoes that Amy has rated for flavor, texture, color, type, history, where you can get the seeds, etc. I use it to help me decide which heirloom tomatoes to try each year now.
Interior of 'Gold Medal' Tomato
Last year, my favorite tomato from her book that I tried was Gold Medal, a bi-colored (red and yellow interior) tomato that took most of the season to ripen but was worth the wait. Check out the picture on the right to see the beautiful interior of these tomatoes. The plants were loaded and these beefstake type of tomatoes (about 1 lb) are firm, beautiful, and sweet with low acid. I started these inside under a light box around the first week of March (10 weeks before our first frost free day-May 15) but I try to sneak my tomatoes out early (third week of April inside Wall of Waters) which is why I grow them 10 weeks instead of the customary 8 weeks for tomatoes. I will explain more on growing tomatoes from seeds in future posts as we get closer to planting time. You can buy the seeds at Baker Heirloom Seeds (rareseeds.com).