Well , I've got lots of tomato seedlings now ... and two in most cells .
When do y'all thin your seedlings ? I can do it now , but then if one dies
... or I can do it when they're bigger , and the dominant one is more
apparent . That approach however uses more of the finite amount of nutrients
available , and maybe thinning now will make one that wouldn't have been
dominant actually be stronger than ...
Decisions decisions !
If there were two or more seeds planted in the same cup I just pinch off
all but the sturdiest seedling. Don't have enough space to plant a lot
of tomato plants. The plants themselves need plenty of room around here
and I keep them pruned so that sunshine gets into the plant.
On occasion I have transplanted extra seedlings from a group and mostly
they succeeded but not as well as the primary. And, like you said, the
secondaries suck up all the energy for the primary.
I tossed caution and common sense to the wind a few years ago.
I have a bed up front that is about 8' x 8'. It is enriched with
compost every year in the spring - just after I pull the tulip bulbs.
Yes, I put in about 80-100 tulip bulbs each fall (maybe $10 worth,
with a careful eye to local offerings). I think of the tulips as
annuals and get rid of the bulbs after bloom...some go to neighbors,
some wind up in other parts of the yard, some just get composted
After the pull, the new compost goes in, as do tomato seeds of many
varieties. I am a seed saver and some of the seeds that get used are
the older ones in the collection or ones I have picked up or ordered
from end-of-season sales. Way too many tomato seeds go into that plot
than any intelligent or knowing gardener would deposit. They come up
like crazy, as do any number of volunteers from the compost or the
tomato husks left as drops the previous fall (you know... when I pull
up the tomato plants before I put in all those bulbs).
Oh, it means I do not get huge tomatoes up there early in the season,
and that is ok. I tend to plant those that bear smaller fruits in that
The wonder is that the plants come in so thick and lush and flower and
fruit like crazy even though logic says they'd block the light from
each other and be undernourished. Nah....that plot is incredibly
productive....and it does not get a full day's sun, either...not once
the neighbor's huge oak leafs out.
It is odd to direct sow here in northern NJ, but seed is cheap, and
after the first experiment, I have continued it the last 5 years or
Then this starts daily happening in late July and continues until
frost in October.
Nice ! Not exactly what we're looking for though . This year I'm trying to
maximize the type of tomato that we use a lot of for cooking . There will
also be slicers and cherry tomatoes , but the biggest portion will be San
Marzanos along with a few Romas . We're growing for later use , not only the
tomatoes but several other veggies - green beans , squashes , peppers ,
berries and other fruits will all be preserved for next winter .
Had home grown green beans with our dinner tonight ...
The kids have all fledged, and there is just so much we can consume,
even over the winter, so I have cut back on some of what I grow.
And except for that bed up front, the rest of the food gardening is
done in tubs. We are critter-ridden, so using large tubs on the deck
is the best way to actually reap the harvest.
The blueberry bushes and the asparagus in down in the back garden, but
they are fenced/netted. Actually that tomato patch up front is fenced
and netted, too. The netting gets put on when the tulips start to show
in the spring, or the deer would have them for midnight snacks. The
deer cannot get into the back, but the groundhogs, possums, raccoons
and squirrels seem to have given me top honors on dining. I am the
first garden off a 150 ace woods, so I am the appetizer, I think.
Ours fledged years ago, they are approaching their middle fifties now.
Of course we have grands in their early thirties so we still plant a lot
and share plus trade with neighbors for their excess. We find deer
tracks behind our fence but no predation due to a six foot board fence,
required by the HOA. Lots of empty land behind us but is now filling up
with more subdivisions, newest is 300 homes going in.
Sounds like time for a little archery practice or maybe an air gun for
the smaller critters. Groundhogs, raccoons, and squirrels are good meat
in this part of Texas. My mother always had me catch possums alive and
then put them up in a cage for a couple of weeks to "purge" them. Never
liked possum myself but the others were okay. Might try one of those
water guns that operates automatically. Friend in Ohio got one and the
deer eventually quit coming around.
once you get an elder who knows where you are they will
bring their youngsters to your gardens. we had a similar
problem as we are about the only garden for some distance
from several wooded areas. once the local hunters took out
the ring leaders we've not had as many deer come through.
there are still plenty of deer around, but they mostly do
not know we are here.
*shhh!* :) *be vewwy, vewwy quiet*
we were able one year to get some old rusted fence from
someone who was throwing it away and that we've put along
the edge that they were coming through most of the time.
that helps a great deal.
we also put large field stone patches around, deer have
a pretty tough time walking through those. kinda like
cattle guards for deer. they won't work in the winter if
we get a heavy snow, but once the snow is gone i won't
see any tracks in those areas. other than the fact that
they are heavy to put in place they do ok. we put down
heavy black plastic in a few layers under them so we don't
have to spray for weed control. raccoons go through them
at times looking for hornet nests.
One of the things I do on bumper year tomatoes is just wash them, dry
them, then into a large vacuum bag and vacuum seal. Toss into the
freezer. Take a bag out, put in fridge, let thaw, pour off the liquid (I
usually drink it), skins, etc. go into compost, use the tomato meat in
soups, chili, etc. Has worked well for several years now.
My preferred method is basically the same , minus the vacuum bag (we don't
have the vac unit - yet) . I thaw differently though , run them under warm
water and slip the skins off then toss them into the cookpot . Chickens love
the skins .
About this time next year check the supply of foods you have
preserved. Figure out how long it will last you at your present rate
of consumption. Allow for a bad year and decide how much you really
need to plant and preserve. We went hog wild the first few years we
lived here and I am still finding stuff that is 5+ years old. I am
trying to go through everything and toss anything that is old and we
have not eaten much of any of it.
I am going to get back to arranging the shelves so I can find things.
DH's idea is to stick stuff anywhere there is spot. I like to have it
organized so I can walk to the spot where an item should be (and find
My lovely wife would fit into your husband's ideas immediately. I'm the
one who sets everything up so I can eat the oldest stuff first. I always
put things back exactly where I got them, she just shoves stuff in
storage willy nilly. Aggravating to say the least but after being
together since 1958 it's a little late to change plus we like arguing
with each other. >G>
Good to hear from you Susan. Need more posters on rec.food.preserving
She might be kin to my wife. Oddly enough, both her younger sisters are
like me, a place for everything and everything in its place. Should have
waited a couple of years. Naw, she and I are fine together, met her in
June 1958 and told her I was going to marry her. Sure you are Sailor was
her reply. Eighteen months later we married and her it is 54 years later
we're still together and still gardening and arguing about where stuff
goes. Both of us grew up on small farms with Dad's that worked and then
farmed. Me in Texas, she in Maryland, ain't a bad deal after all this
time. Two kids, five grandkids, six great grandkids, and we're still
together. I'm happy. I do wish she wasn't a packrat though. <G>
Our big problem with close planting of tomatoes is bugs, with no
sunshine getting into the interior of the plants the bugs take over.
It's a PITA trying to get in there and pinch all the stink bugs and save
some 'maters. They aren't as bad if there is lots of light getting in.
Looks like your method works well for you.
And this morning I snipped all but the strongest in those that had
multiples . The saved Romas from last year germinated better than expected ,
some cells had up to 4 seedlings ! I'm seeing some action now on the peppers
, my serranos are coming up though none of the rest are yet .
I used to cross hot peppers to get more heat but, as I've aged, the heat
doesn't agree with me anymore. Only grow sweet chiles and a bunch of
those. We like Gypsy, Giant Marconi, Carmen (a poblano type that gets
huge) and the occasional Aji Limon de Peru, a hot yellow that doesn't
bother my innards as much as others. I've been growing the Aji's for
over 20 years, traded with a gentleman in Lima, Peru for the seeds back
before it was banned. Had some nice hot ones from a fellow in Bulgaria,
sort of a hot Longhorn, right tasty. I miss those days sometimes and
then I don't due to worldwide terrorism. Never could eat the really hot
habs though, did not agree with my digestive system and hurt on both
Here's another decision that I haven't got around to experimenting with
What if you're actually pulling out the plants that're slower to grow
vegatively but are better at fruiting when you remove the smaller ones?
"Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
It's pretty much impossible to know which plants will fruit the most
unless you have ESP with plants. Maybe a Zen experience with tomatoes? <G>
Gardening, at best, is a hit and miss experience in my opinion. You can
do everything right and the damned plants won't grow properly or the
weather changes to bad, or bugs and birds eat everything you plant, or
the dog digs them up. Basically gardening is a crap shoot but if you do
the best you can most times you are rewarded. Wife and I gardened with
our parents at a very early age and here we are in our mid-seventies
still trysting with the garden gods. Just go for it.
learning and trying things are both important, but
i like to also help the overall production from the
gardens by increasing diversity in my patches.
i divide my plantings into smaller plots and then
hope the critters, bugs and diseases don't get them
all. usually they don't.
sometimes things do go wrong, but you can sometimes
cut your losses and replant with something else if
you notice in time.
experimenting with different systems of production
can be good too. like the ways i've been trying the
strawberries in different gardens and seeing how they
do when mixed with other plants. i'm now well past
the point where critters can eat them all -- they may
raid a garden and eat some of the berries but they
can't seem to find them all. i still have plenty when
i go out to pick. if i'd planted them in more formal
rows and there weren't any surrounding plants to
provide some cover i think the critters would also
have it much easier to find the fruits.
I'm a couple of decades younger than you but have a similar experience.
Actually my parents started cutting back on food gardens when I was young
(both employed so less time coupled with the rise of the supermarkets.) and
so I took over. I've always believed that a person should be part of nature,
not seperated from it by plastic bags and cling film.
My thinking about which tomato plants might yield better not necessarily
being the fastest starters comes from my recent involvement in grafting
dwarf fruit trees. I've been keeping my own tomato seeds for years and, for
the most part it's been a success. However there are always plants that do
so much better than others. Being an invalid and seeing a year-on-year
reduction in mobility recently I've been thinking about how best to grow
less tomato plants but better ones.
As it is for the past few years I've started plants inside very early, put
out maybe six and taken cuttings from them. Then, as they start setting
fruit discarding the cuttings from the worst fruiting plants and only using
cuttings from the best. (They fruit so much faster from cuttings than they
do from seed so it's not like you need to live in the tropics to do this.)
However recently I've started wondering about my selection process for the
starting six, as per my previous post.
I've been playing with LEDs and a couple of planted aquariums over last
winter (I'm in the southern hemisphere) and am thinking of trying to keep
cuttings of the best couple of tomato plants going through the winter, just
enough light and nutrient to keep them alive at first then boost both to
start extra cuttings pre-spring. Select plants for disease resistance and
fruit production this summer and clone them as we've been doing with fruit
trees for hundreds of years.
Alas, as you say above it's a crap shoot at times and this spring / summer
in NZ has been crazy so it's hard to judge which plants will be worth
keeping through winter. Normally at this time of the year I'd be giving
excess tomatoes to neighbours already but this year I've only had one tomato
sandwich and the rest of the fruit is still very green.
This summer I've had success bud grafting peaches, nectarines and several
citrus varieties, mostly on dwarfed trees in pots as I rent and even though
I've been in this house for over a decade I don't see the point in
developing a home orchard in-ground. It's got me thinking... I wish there
was a plant that would serve as a perrenial rootstock for tomatoes, one that
I could graft new scion 'wood' to each spring so I don't loose weeks of
potential fruiting time on growing roots. ;) I love tomatoes but refuse to
buy the fake ones sold in supermarkets.
"Humans will have advanced a long, long, way when religious belief has a
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