Tomatoes – Part 2 (2017)

I feel like I am sooooooo late in getting my next round of Tomatoes sown… But realistically, I’m well within the 6 week starting period… And if we have a cold spring, I’m well within the 8-10 weeks before the last frost… Its just with the beautiful Spring weather we have been having the last week or so, I feel behind. I feel like the grass should be mowed (its not even growing or green or even de-dog-pooped yet). It feels like real Spring, but realistically, this is Alberta, and we could still get snow anytime in the the next two months.

But before I go on and on and on about my weird feelings about Spring sowing… Let me tell you about the next round of Tomatoes…

So Today (April 4), I’m sowing (in peat pellets, as per usual):

  • Sub-Arctic Plenty
    • Sowed: 4 peat pellets
    • “Developed in Alberta for Prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 56-70g (2-2 1/2 oz.) tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2016)
  • Tiny Tim
    • Sowed: 3 peat pellets
    • “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Tumbler F1
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet (because I only had 3 seeds left… better stock up for next year)
    • “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet, 2.5cm (1″) cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can product up to 2kg (4.4lbs) of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Black Russian
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • These seeds were from a trade, so I don’t have a seed packet to quote here for this one.
  • Principe Borghese
    • Sowed: 1 peat pellet
    • “This Italian variety is the traditional variety used for sun dried tomatoes. Plants stand up to high heat and produce plenty of tomatoes for drying, fresh eating and sauce making. Determinate – no staking required” McKenzie Seeds (2015)
  • Manitoba
    • Sowed: 2 peat pellets
    • “Very Dependable early variety, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so that the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.” McKenzie Seeds (2014)

Okay, so I really wanted to sow more of the Tumbler, but I’ll make up for it next year. They always produce a crazy amount of cherry tomatoes, throughout the entire summer. They are also usually the very first to set fruit and ripen, and sometimes the very last to give up to frost.

The Sub Arctic Plenty produced fantastic last year, so I sowed 4 of them again. Since it was developed here, that is probably why it grows well. If you also live in Alberta, or another cold area… Or want some tomatoes earlier than you would otherwise, give this one a try.

Tiny Tim’s are just awesome. Grow them. Trust me. They are so cute and also delicious. Since they are tiny little plants, you can keep them in some smaller containers. So if you only have a tiny area to grow things in (like a sunny front stoop, or a balcony), they are a great choice.

I threw the Principe Borghese into the mix. Hopefully I can keep the squirrel’s greedy little paws of them this year. I really want to try and make my own sun dried tomatoes… and by sun dried, I mean dehydrator-dried.

And, I threw the Manitoba in just because.

I was also keeping an eye out for “Green Envy” which was a Hybrid I found a few years ago by Burpee. They were so sweet and delicious and some of the best cherry tomatoes I have ever had. They were a little hard to tell when exactly they were ripe, since they are green. If I see them again, I will pick up a pack for next year.

I think this will be it for the tomatoes this year… unless I have a sad tale of germination to tell you. As it is, this is more than enough tomatoes… But I do hope to be able to make (and can) some fresh Bruchetta from my own tomatoes.

Do you have any tomatoes I should try? Want to make a seed trade? Add a message in the comments with any tips, tricks or encouragement.

(Just a note, the featured photo is from 2014 I think. I had an amazing tomato crop that year, because I had an amazing greenhouse to grow in… Too bad it was owned by legitimate crazy people)


Potting up the Tomatoes

It seems when I get around to the potting up stage that Spring really is on the doorstep. I realize that it is technically spring right now… And this year it certainly feels like Spring now.. but this is Alberta, and we could get 2 feet of snow tomorrow if someone really made Mother Nature angry. Bottom line… Its not safe to plant many things outside just yet.

Inside however, my seedlings are starting to take over. Despite completely scaling back on the amount of planting I have done this year, I still have a very full windowsill.

This year, I have only grown 24 tomato plants. AND I’m not even keeping them all. Some of them are going to my mom and to my best friend. Which is really a mutually beneficial situation. They get strong healthy tomato plants, and I get the satisfaction of being able to put seeds in the soil and start gardening early, without the guilt of “where the hell am I going to put this plant?”

I am potting them all up into home-made newspaper pots… Partly because it is free, compostable and easy, and partly because I don’t have enough pots for ALL the things. The other great thing about newspaper pots, is you can make them whatever size you want, so I can get some more height in my tomato pots than a traditional black plastic pot.

Place the tomato deeper than it was planted before. It will grow roots out of the stem, and help to anchor itself into the soil. Just be sure to remove any leaves before you hide them under soil, as it can help introduce disease into the plant. (You can see in the photo above how the stem is trying to root itself.

Once they are in their new homes, I firm the soil around them a little (not much, just to keep everything where it should be). and I tend to top-water as needed for the first week or so. Then only bottom watering unless the newspaper starts to get too dry. I top water because I start them off in the peat pellets, and I believe this helps keep the peat more moist, helping the roots to expand out into their new space. If I pot them up a second time (or started in soil to begin with), I will only top water once, just to help the soil fill in any big air pockets I may have left.

One last tip: I tend to stake them with bamboo skewers as I am relying on a mostly East facing window for their light and they tend to get a bit leggy. The skewers just help keep them in their own spaces. I just gently tie them with a cotton butcher twine.    

Cherry-type Tomatoes (2015)

So I finally narrowed down which cherry-type tomatoes I am going to grow this year…

I narrowed it down to six different varieties.

Four of them are heirloom, and two are hybrids. I thought I would write a quick post detailing which varieties I am growing this year, and I will keep you updated on their progress throughout the year. I sowed these on March 22nd.

‘Yellow Pear’ {Heirloom} – I grew these last year, and they were very prolific. I’ll be interested to see how they do in the backyard. (Indeterminate variety)

‘Chadwick’s Cherries’ {Heirloom} – These seeds are from Renee’s Garden and are described by them as “Vigorous vines offer clusters of large & luscious ruby-red cherries with full sweet flavour” (Indeterminate variety)

‘Tumbler F1 (Trailing)’ {Hybrid} – These are destined for my hanging baskets… which is what they were breed for.  McKenzie Seeds description reads: “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet, 1″ cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can produce up to 4.4lbs of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato!” (Determinate variety)

‘Tiny Tim’ {Heirloom} – My mom and I used to always buy these as plants from the garden centre when I was growing up, so I was excited to find the seed. McKenzie’s describes them simply as “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato.” (Determinate variety)

‘Principe Borghese’ {Heirloom} – These are the traditional variety used for sun dried tomatoes. They are also great for sauces. I’m interested to see how they do here. Maybe I will have a dehydrator by harvest time, and I will try drying some of these. (Determinate variety)

‘Green Envy’ {Hybrid} – These were my favourite tasting tomato out of the 15 varieties I grew last year. They were so sweet and the taste was phenomenal. Originally, I wasn’t even going to try them, as I wanted to keep to heirlooms, but I am so glad I did. I’ve been raving about them, and I HAD to include them in my garden again this year. (Indeterminate variety)

I can hardly wait to try all the varieties and compare them to each other. I’ll keep you updated on their progress throughout the year.

Do you have varieties I should keep in mind for next year? Comment below.