It's Tomato Seed Starting Time
Are you just about mad with a craving for those sweet juicy focal points of your garden? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve got so many tomato varieties for you!! Now is the time to make your selections and start your seeds! Check out this handy blog article for seed starting!
Not sure which variety you want to grow this season?
Consider these tips from our Founder Casey O'Leary:
Determinate tomatoes ripen earlier than indeterminate ones, so if you are in a hurry, choose determinate varieties. The earliest are usually Sandpoint, Stupice, and Sasha's Altai.
Cherokee Purple is a good choice for an early-ripening beefsteak type.
Concerned about the heat affecting blossoms? Try Oregon Spring and Sasha's Altai, they have been known to flower early enough for fruiting. Read more on heat strategies below.
Interested in Heirlooms? These are varieties with a documented history of being passed down through generations for more than 50-100 years. Many people consider the big multi-colored varieties to be heirlooms, but they are actually Beefsteak types!
Try San Marzano! The quintessential Italian paste tomato. The ONLY tomato for some...
There are also heirloom cherries, heirloom slicers, and pastes, it can be mind-boggling! Each of the 48 varieties available on our website notes whether the tomato is an heirloom or not.
The business of categorizing our tomatoes to help you choose is something we will be working on, but for now here are some classifications that may help:
Cherry small 1/2"-1" round ones
Salad tomatoes are round, 1-2"
Slicers are the tomatoes you generally see in the grocery store. These are 2-4" and round. Less meaty than beefsteaks.
Beefsteak is the quintessential "heirloom"...super thin skin, very meaty, huge & heavy, that classic shape
Paste/Roma Come in all shapes & sizes. Romas are paste tomatoes, as are a bunch of others. They have drier flesh and not very many seeds. Casey's fave that we carry is the Cuore di Capra, which ripens a bit earlier than San Marzano for her AND is a lot bigger AND doesn't get blossom end rot as many romas do.
There are a lot more types than that, and it's worthy of some serious study!
While your seeds are germinating, consider some ways to aid your tomatoes this season.
Plan to follow the seed packet spacing and trellising notes - It can be incredibly tempting to plant them more closely than recommended, but, trust it… there’s a reason for the spacing recommendations. Crowded plants can reduce airflow, which may encourage unwanted bacteria or fungi to take up residence on them. Crowding can also increase plant stress, which signals some insects to feed on them. It’s part of Nature’s way of maintaining a balance.
Feeding your tomatoes - We note for several of our tomatoes that it’s a good idea to add crushed eggshells to the soil when you plant your tomatoes. Some sources also recommend adding a mix of aged compost and a bit of manure 1-2 feet deep in the area of your garden where you’ll be planting your tomatoes. If you add components such as aged manure mixed in with your soil now, it will allow time for the soil to incorporate it.
Soil health can increase plant resiliency - check out your local nursery or gardening center to ask about organic methods you can use right now to bolster your soil. If you prefer to do it yourself, Seed Grower Cindy Nipper of Tree of Life Revelation 22:2 offers this great article on creating your own Fertilizer Tea! It includes several great tips and suggested plants that you can grow and use for overall garden health!
Plan for deep watering - Tomato plants will need enough regular watering to get established in the spring, but after that, resist the temptation to overwater them! This encourages shallow root growth and consistent moisture in the soil can create a habitat for disease. Deeper watering less frequently encourages the roots to grow downward. Special care will still be needed to be sure they get the water they need during the hottest months. In 80-95 degree weather, if you plan it right, tomatoes have been known to do well with a deep watering once a week, potentially less. Avoid watering the leaves, use drip irrigation or a soaker hose instead. According to Wolf D. Storl in his book Culture in Horticulture, the soil should be as wet as a wrung-out sponge all the way down to the root tips. “For experimental purposes, one could dig a hole to get an idea of the watering depth and assess the amount that is right for the soil.” Be sure to use a mulch to hold that moisture in place. Straw is an excellent material for this because it reflects the sun and keeps the ground cool. Hay mulch can perform similarly while feeding soil organisms.
Happy Tomato Seeding!