Favorite Childhood Memories – Tomato Edition

You know the smell of tomato plants? Not the fruit… Just the plant. It is so ingrained in my brain as a happy memory that I can’t even begin to describe it in anything relatable to anyone but myself.

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You see, my mom doesn’t have a green thumb. I wouldn’t call it black… Just not green. But we ALWAYS had a tomato plant (or four). Pretty much every summer of my life, I can remember tomatoes on our deck. And while you can’t beat the taste of that fresh home-grown tomato, that isn’t where my happy memories lie.

For me, the smell takes me back to car rides into the country to a local greenhouse. The Beatles are probably playing through the speakers. My mom’s favorite. I probably made her rewind the tape to Yellow Submarine or Penny Lane (my favorites) 8 times.

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Once we got to the greenhouse, there was usually a resident cat or dog to cuddle before we made our way into the hot, humid greenhouses. I would be admiring every flower as my mom picked out what bedding plants she was going to grow that year. ALWAYS some Pansies… Both of our favorites.

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And then the tomatoes. I don’t remember any special variety. We probably based our decision on the name. Honestly, I was probably back petting the resident animals, or talking to a cat. Mostly I remember the way the car would smell really earthy on the drive home. The feeling of taking our precious cargo back to its new house. And the prospect of playing in the dirt when we got home. I would dig the hole, my mom would carefully put the plant in, and then I got to help cover it back up.

Most of my memories involving tomatoes, are all jumbled together. But every year, that first tomato plant smell takes me back to those happy times in spring with my mom and some dirt. Think Disney movie flashback only less animated and more dirt.

Go smell some tomato plants and make your own earthy memories.

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March 22/2014 Garden Update

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It was feeling a lot like Spring around here. Gophers have started to wake up and are chirping away out in the fields. The Geese are making their pit stops here, en masse. The snowbank/drift in our back yard from the storms at the beginning of December was down to about 3 feet tall at its highest point… We could see our patio again. And at work… MUD… So much mud! Then the first day of Spring happened and Mother Nature decided we were getting too used to this “Spring” thing, and hammered us with a winter storm again. Lucky for me, I have Spring in my windowsill. Everything is doing amazing. Now if Mother Nature would co-operate, I can start putting the plants for the Greenhouse garden out there. (We are hopefully getting our soil preparations done later next week over there)

But, without anymore chatter, Here is the updates on my little seedlings. (Tomorrow I’ll cover the Herbs and flowers, just like last week)

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TOMATOES

I may have developed an inability to control myself around seeds. I bought more. But only because I saw the Yellow Pear ones that looked so amazing on the many gardening blogs I read, and I just really wanted them. Right next to them in the display were some Marglobe ones that are an Heirloom determinate variety that I think would be great for my mom. Right next to those were some “Green Envy” cherry tomatoes, and I said to myself “why not”. There may have also been an heirloom pepper in there too, but we’ll cover that in the Pepper section. Then I may have allowed myself to trade some Heirloom seeds… “Boxcar Willie”, “Golden Cherry” and “Black Russian” should be here any day now.  I can stop anytime, I swear (she said unconvincingly).

It took 5 days for the Yellow Pear and Marglobe to start sprouting. Pretty excited for both of these. Green Envy should be up by Monday. 5 days seems to be the general length of time it takes for my tomatoes to sprout.

The Cherry Tomatoes (Hybrid Mix of yellow, orange and red) took a little longer to sprout than I expected (more than 7 days), but once they broke through the soil, they took off! They are very leggy, but I can just plant them deeper when they get potted up.

The Pink and Red Brandywine’s I sowed last weekend, Sprouted on March 20. The Pink ones were a day earlier. Black Krim and Bonny Best are also sprouted. The Black Krim had some spotty germination, but I have 4 solid little seedlings out of the 6 that I sowed.

The Rainbow blend and Roma’s that I had potted up last week, are doing AMAZING. I am experimenting a little with using 1L containers that the coffee cream comes in, so my seedlings can have a very developed deep root system, but I’ll tell you more about that later in its very own post. Also… the Rainbow blend may not be just Brandywine tomatoes… Some have standard leaves and not potato leaves. Weird.

Needless to say I am very-much looking forward to my tomatoes this year!

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Tomato seedlings

PEPPERS

My Cayenne Peppers are doing amazing. They all look like little pepper plants now. I should have a great crop of peppers from them if I do everything right, since I have about 10 plants… AFTER thinning and downsizing to only the healthiest ones.

My Jalapenos are a little slower than the Cayenne, but still great. They were started a little after the Cayenne’s so they have that excuse. I have 4 still in the peat pellet starters and I will be potting them up this weekend.

And since I have minimal self control around a seed display, I have some heirloom Hungarian Wax hot peppers. I started 2x 3″ pots of these on March 20th. Since its been a little colder around the window because of the snow, I wont be too surprised if these take a little longer to germinate.

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Cayenne Peppers in 4″ pots

LEEKS

Amazing as ever! I may need to think about thinning them again soon… REALLY need to not sow the entire package of seeds next year.

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Leeks – almost need thinning again

STRAWBERRIES

Super slow. Not much new to report from last week. The few that have true leaves are getting stronger though. I will be sowing more of these in the Fall, so that they are stronger healthy plants by the time Spring comes around.

EGGPLANT

Did I tell you I found some Italian Eggplant? “Violetta Lunga di Napoli” is sprouting!

My Asian Eggplant “Ping Tung Long” has sprouted and is slowly moving along. I’m down to 4 of those rather than 6. Two of them couldn’t break out of their seed shell and were not looking good, so I put them out of their misery.

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“Violetta Lunga di Napoli” Eggplant sprouting

GROUND CHERRIES

These are working on their true leaves. I am looking forward to them. They are definitely not something you can find in the grocery store around here.

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Cayenne on Left x3
Ground Cherries on Right x6

SWEET POTATO

The sweet potato experiment from last year, is getting a do-over this year. I have a sprouting potato on my fridge, so I should get some good slips from it. The question will be whether I can keep them warm and happy enough to produce some potatoes.

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Sweet Potato producing slips

POTATOES

I waited too long to order my Pink Fir Apples. We went to place the order and they were sold out… So sad. Next year I won’t wait so long. Now the potato plan will probably just be regular varieties you can buy at the garden center. My Pink Fir Apple dreams will have to wait until next year I guess. I will console myself with more tomato plants.

ICEBERG LETTUCE

I had an old packet of Iceberg lettuce, and I thought I would challenge myself to try and get an actual head of lettuce from it. We’ll see how it goes. At the very least, I will end up with something green to eat. They have all sprouted. Soon, I’ll try and pinch out a few to grow on and hope for heads. The others I’ll just have as salad leaves.

Check back here tomorrow for the update on all my Herbs and Flowers.

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Left – “Ping Tung Long” Eggplant
Right – Jalapeno Peppers

 

 

My 2012 Tomatoes

Last year, I grew 3 different varieties of Tomatoes. All with amazing success. I planted them earlier than I normally would here, but kept them covered with a large clear plastic bag (the extra large kind you use for recycling cans or bottles). As the days got warmer and we had more sun, I would take the bags off during the day, but keep them wrapped up at night. If there was a chance of Frost, I would also put a large sheet over them as well. I also put the sheets to use later in the year for hail protection. I was pretty lucky to be home during all the major storms we had so I could get them covered and then uncovered as soon as possible. As you can see in the earlier pictures, I started them out with some “ghetto” drip irrigation. It is just a 3 litre bottle, with a few holes popped into the bottom. You fill it up in the morning, and then the water slowly seeps out of the bottle, and the tomatoes are very happy. This doesn’t work well when the plant is gigantic, but when they are first starting, It worked wonders. There is also basil planted in with the tomatoes, which surprised me at how well it helped to grow them together. This year, I will be replicating what I did last year.

Before I get to the photos, The 3 varieties I grew: Cherry, Early Girl, and Roma.

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Do you have any tomato growing tips to share?