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Posts Tagged ‘transplanting tomatoes’

Every year I do it.

You would think that after 5, 10 or even 20 years I would learn.

But no – I never will.  

At least, now I can admit it – this major flaw in my character.

I have no patience – especially when it comes to certain things.

It starts in January.   There could be a major ice storm wiping out power lines in a 3 state area, snow could be stacked 7 feet deep on the driveway, and the blizzard of the century could be howling outside the front door but all it takes is one garden catalog in the mailbox to push me over the edge.  I have to do it.  I can’t stop myself no matter how hard I try. 

I have to plant tomato seeds.

Maybe it’s the smell of fresh potting soil  or the fear that for the first time since the dawn of mankind, spring will come to South Dakota in February and I won’t be ready.   OK – I know that this will never happen but I am an old Boy Scout leader and I must be prepared at all times – I took the oath!!!

There is some warped sense of timing buried deep in my psyche – a biological clock with a wild, twisted spring that makes me start my tomato seeds way too early and the saddest part is – I do it every year.

By early February they’re in the soil and by the end of March they look like this.

 

I call it the tomato jungle.

And that’s not all – there is another problem.  Every year I tell myself I will only plant 12 tomatoes of a couple of varieties – which I do.  But that’s just the beginning, if I only plant 12 seeds and half of them don’t sprout I won’t have enough – right?  So I decide to plant 2 seeds in each cell. 

You do it too – come on – admit it. 

We’ve all read the books and the seed packages and in our minds we calculate the germination rates and the odds of survival.  After all, these are delicate living organiziums  – there’s no way they will all survive – not in a cold house with zero humidity and next to frosty window panes that barely let in any sun.  And then there’s the harsh reality of moving them outside where animals will eat some and step on others, hail stones will fall and late freezes will kill and then, if your like me, you have a husband who gets overzealous with the lawn mower and heavy equipment. 

We also have to figure in the age of the seed because we know for a fact that we have had this one particular package of tomato seeds for over 5 years.  Remember?   It was way cheaper to buy in bulk.  It’s a fact – seeds get old and every thing I have ever read says that when seeds get old they don’t germinate – it’s the law of nature and more importantly, it’s in black and white for pity sake – it must be true!   We know we are bound to lose more plants so just to be on the safe side, we decide to plant 3 seeds per cell. 

But for some unknown reason germination has never been a problem when it comes to tomato seeds.  Perhaps that ‘plant by’ date on the package is just a marketing plot to make us buy new seed every year? 

I wonder…

  Two years ago I planted tomato seeds that were 17 years old.  I found them in the bottom of a box of garden stuff.  The package was old enough to be sold on Ebay as an antique.  It had gotten wet, torn and was so filthy I could barely read what kind of seeds they were.  Some of them had slipped through the tattered package and drifted around the bottom of the box for several years.  They had been frozen, overheated and probably exposed to harsh chemicals so I knew they wouldn’t grow but I planted them anyway.  It was a miracle…  those little seeds were just waiting to touch real soil and once they did – they grew!  I would bet I had 99% germination from those hardy little buggers.  Of course – thinking that none would grow –  I had planted all of them so we were blessed with 86 tomato plants.  We didn’t need 86 tomato plants but I had to keep them – these spunky little plants had waited 17 years for their one chance to grow and I just didn’t have the heart to pull them out by their tiny little roots.  I couldn’t let them die a slow painful death of dehydration – could you? 

 I didn’t think so.   So I transplanted them all. 

And in March I transplanted them again… 

 And they grew into a Jungle on the living room floor….

And when spring finally came (around mid June) I planted them outside…

And we did get a few tomatoes.

 

I must admit, this picture was taken after we had given away or sold at least half of them.  After awhile, the neighbors and relatives quit stopping and people would turn the other way when I met them on the street.  It was worse than a plague of zucchini.  We had tomatoes in the corner of the living room for almost two months and as unbelievable as it seems, almost every one of them ripened – maybe because of the heated floor.  I canned tomatoes, I made spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, froze them, dried them.    It was a scary tomato year.

And did I learn from this year of tomato gluttony? 

You be the judge – here’s a picture of the living room floor today.

 

138 tomato plants. 

I’m so ashamed.

Is there a support group for this?

 

 

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