Tomato raising strategy 2014...

08 August, 2014

As anyone growing tomatoes in a coolish climate knows, early tomatoes requires early tomato seedlings.

My strategy in previous years has been a little ad hoc. In 2013 I was away overseas at prime seedling raising time so my efforts were hampered. I sowed my tomatoes earlier than usual (in July before I left). While my house sitters looked after them and I still had live tomato seedlings when I returned in October, the tomatoes I think were a little stunted early on. I also didn't quite get my act together and didn't plant them out until November. 2013-14 was not a stellar tomato year with slow first harvests (mid Jan if I recall correctly before I tasted a ripe homegrown tomato).

The previous year (2012-13) I have sowed a little later (around late Sept-early Oct) but planted out around the same time (around October). This was the year of the infamous Tomato Trial where I pitted many varieties against each other, the winner being Garden Peach which I am growing again this year. I think getting them in the ground that bit earlier allowed them to establish better.

This year I'm going for a combination of the two: early sowing (just this weekend gone) and early planting out. This is parly informed by Foodnstuff who reported that her advice was sow early and put them outside (protected from cold winds though) as early as they are potted up. I will be trying using the greenhouse for this.

Of course, the first important task was sowing the seeds. Which meant picking the 2014-15 varieties.

This was the short list.


I am growing 24 varieties: Juane Flame (thanks Yvonne), Riesentraube (thanks again Yvonne), Pink Grape, Golden Girl, Sweet Bite, Earl of Edgecombe, Mortgage Lifter, Green Zebra, Tommy Toe, Husky Cherry Gold, Brown Cherry, Garden Peach, New Yorker, Big White Pink Stripe, Sainte Lucie, Siberian, Rouge de Marmande, Brin de Muget, Lemon Drop, Potiron Ecaplate, Gardeners Delight and the three amazing tomatoes I bought at a farmers market and saved seed from, which will henceforth be known as Huge Tomato (because it was huge), Yellow Tomato (because it was yellow) and Black Tomato (because it was black).

Yes, I am that inventive and original: i.e. not very.

I potted these seeds into pots I have kept from previous plants bought. I like how these allow for good root development.

I filled them 3/4 full of compost, then added about two centimetres of seed raising mix.

The seeds then went in - around 4-8 of each which I will thin to the strongest seedling.
  

Just look at them, all ready to grow.



I then topped that with around one centimetre of more seed raising mix.


Then the went into the lounge room (the warmest room in the house in winter) above the heater, which has in previous years provided a good temparture for germination.


I water them gently (with the fabulous bottle top waterer) each day.


Hopefully they will raise their heads any day now.

14 comments:

  1. Love it! I've just spent tonight potting up first of the ones that have germinated well and they are on a table near a hydronic heater radiator in the bedroom with the same spray top bottle beside them. Couple of days and they'll be out in the greenhouse.

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    1. Excellent work. I hope mine are not too far behind. Those bottle top sprays are awesome!

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  2. Love those bottle top waterers - they're great for kids activities because you can't tip all the water out in one go no matter how hard you try!

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    1. Indeed! Love that kiddie idea too - the uses are endless.

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  3. I love Reisentraube; it's a great little cherry tomato. And the funny thing was; I got it by accident. I ordered Black Zebra from Edens and when it fruited it was obvious it wasn't. Instead I got a very productive cherry. Members of the Ozgrow garden forum identified it for me and I've been growing it ever since.

    My seeds are slow germinating this year, because of the cold. I keep them on the dining table in a north-facing window (where there hasn't been a lot of warming sun coming in) and that part of the room doesn't get much warmth from the wood fire which is further away. The early seedlings I put out in the polyhouse aren't thriving, but they aren't dying either.

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    1. I love it just for the name, though I tried to grow it last year and it wasn't that successful. Hopefully this year will be better.
      I've also had the wrong tomato seed before - I think it was supposed to be black krim, but it was a smaller black cherry tom of sorts. Still delicious.
      My tomatoes haven't come up yet, but it's only been a week. Good to hear yours in the polyhouse aren't dying, it gives me hope. But you've made me think - maybe I'll try keeping some inside, and put some out in the greenhouse and hedge my bets. Will be more work, but probably worth it. Cheers!

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  4. Where oh where do you find room to grow so many tomatoes on your suburban block? The most I have ever fitted in was about five bushes (I do have lawn though..) I think you must be a magician:) Do post photos when you plant them out so I can see where you put them! Well done for extreme organisation!

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    1. With a lot of squeezing!!! :) Not a magician, just determined.
      Having no lawn helps, but I usually put about half in the raised veg patch (two 2.4x1.2m beds for toms each year) and the other half scattered around the front/back yard (probably around another 6-8m square space again). And I plant them fairly close, around 30-50cms apart, which makes for a tomato forrest. But then I quite enjoy that.

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  5. great decorating idea those seedlings on the mantelpiece :-) they fit in nicely with your other pieces.
    i must ask dad if he has started sowing his tomato seeds (i get the plants from him).
    i would be happy if i only ever ate black krims for the rest of my life, they are my absolute favourite!

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    1. Cheers :)
      Black krims are fab, but I must say I like variety. Evidently.

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  6. This is a great reminder to me that I need to plant some tomato seeds. Thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing all yours as they grow.

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    1. My pleasure. I hope yours (and mine) grow well this season.

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  7. Hi Bek,
    After a very similar planting schedule to you last year (also due to O/S hols) I also elected to delay things until last weekend. After planting all the varieties you gave me last year I have rationalised this year. I have decided to put most of my standard tomatoes in the street planter boxes out the back of my place- this is a risky strategy as people can help themselves so I have chosen the Big White Pink Stripe (I have planted some leftovers from you plus some seed I saved from my own) and seeds from a plant I will call "Big Black" (I think it was derived from a hybrid of a black Russian crossed with a Mortgage lifter or champion). Anyway I figure the neighbours will have a hard time figuring out when those varieties are ripe. I have also planted a few Ned Kelly (they seemed to be the earliest last year) and some Champions. Finally I got some seeds I will call "French honeymoon"-as a colleague bought them back from her honeymoon in France. I am also planting standard cherry toms and yellow pears (the yellow pears were also good value for the planter boxes). Hopefully will be a better year than last year....

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    1. I know what you mean. I'm trying Big White Pink Stripe for the last time this year - I've grown it 3 years running and it's never performed well. This is it's last chance.
      I would expect the neighbours won't pilfer too much, especially when they don't look like "normal" tomatoes. Good luck.

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