Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's seedling mania around here!

Yesterday my husband and I sat down and started the tomato seeds. Spring must be here! In past years we had always run out, or were very close to running out, of tomato sauce by this time. I'm happy to say that we still have plenty of sauce still in the pantry. My hope is that it will last us until we have tomatoes and are starting to can this year's sauce. We canned 72 quarts of tomato sauce last season, which I used for spaghetti sauce and chili mostly, and that appears to be a year's supply for a family of five.

The types of tomatoes that we are planting this year are different from our normal choices. Since I am doing this little community garden I asked for some input about what the other people would like to grow. I'm really excited to grow some different varieties. My husband is resistant to change for change's sake. We planted San Marzanos, which we did plant last year and were very pleased with. I did insist on them because it is important for us to have a reliable sauce tomato. The big change is that we did NOT plant Big Mamas like we have for the past 3 years or so. They were disappointing last year and the San Marzanos outperformed them by far. The San Marzanos may be much smaller but they more than make up for it in production. We also chose a hybrid called Campbells as a back-up sauce tomato.

Of course we are keeping the standard Sun Gold cherry tomato. I don't think I'll every deviate from that choice. We picked a few different heirloom varieties. Old German, which looks a lot like Striped German that we planted the past 2 years, is one. Another is Black Sea Man. The name makes my husband and I snicker every time it is said. So I'm sure that will be a big joke once the tomatoes are on the vine. "Oh honey, this Black Sea Man is delicious!"

We also started a large hybrid called Watermelon Beefsteak. The other freebee from Totally Tomato is a hybrid called Jetsonic and we planted that as well. In all we should have 144 tomato plants, the majority of which we'll use ourselves. The difference will go to the Master Gardener plant sale. There are about 40 pepper plants growing now. And of course we can't forget the artichokes which are looking wonderful. They are scheduled to go out to the cold frame for the rest of spring this week. That's their 6 week portrait there at the top.

The pepper seeds were started on March 13th. They don't germinate or grow nearly as fast as the tomatoes and I've found that they need more time. They are all sprouted now and doing nicely. I planted 4 varieties; a bell called Fat & Sassy, Jalepenos, a mild chili called Mariachi, and a Hungarian type called Volcano which came free from Totally Tomato.