Friday, October 23, 2009

Tomato seedlings

I just counted 86 tomato seedlings on my front doorstep. This is actually less than was planted due to a bit of natural attrition.

I am resolved to only plant 6-8 tomato plants in the vegie patch this year (10 at the most), partly due to space limitation and partly so we're not drowning in tomatoes in a few months. So why do I have so many seedlings? A few reasons:
  1. I'm giving some to family and friends who didn't have time for raising from seed.
  2. I have a number of different varieties (mostly heirloom varieties) and loads of seed
  3. I knew some would either die or be a bit pathetic and this allows me to pick the healthiest looking ones.
The excess seedlings are not going to waste though. Once I've sorted through the seedlings and picked the ones I'm going to plant and set aside some for family and friends, the rest are going to the Waste Not! Vegie Swap tomorrow.

This year I'm following Peter Cundle's advice and being very cruel to my tomato seedlings. He recommends planting them into small tumbler sized containers (or put several in a punnet) and only giving them enough water to stay barely alive. Apparently this will make for tough plants. Molly-coddling is expressively forbidden.

I've planted mine into yogurt pots and a few 3-4 to a punnet/round chinese container. I sprinkled a little sulphate of potash around them, as recommended, and I've been trying to only water them when they are dry or starting to wilt a bit. I must admit that being cruel to my tomatoes does feel slightly counter intuitive, but hopefully the reward will be nice sturdy plants that produce loads of fruit. I'm holding off on planting them out until they start to show signs of flowering, though at the rate they're going this could be a while yet.

Looking back through my photos from this time last year, it was about this time that we bought a couple of tomato seedlings, which then put on a huge amount of growth through November. The photo above was taken mid November last year showing the first fruit forming.

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