The tomato seeds start out in little pellets, and the irony is not lost on me that I am growing “local” food by starting seeds in a product that has come all the way from Vietnam.
Digging up peat bogs to dry them and ship them to gardeners everywhere contributes to global warming, so I thought I was doing a good thing by getting Fiber Grow pellets. But once I got home and turned the package over and read the Made in Vietnam sticker, I wasn’t so sure anymore. It takes a lot of resources to ship not-peat moss around the world too.
Anyway, the tomatoes, for better or worse, begin their lives on the top of the refrigerator in their Vietnamese fiber homes. It takes a week or two sometimes at the right temperature for them to germinate. They like to be warm. The first batch I started, only about half of them ever sprouted at all.
Once they have “true” leaves, the tomatoes and their Vietnamese pots go into the regular 6-packs you might see at the garden store.
They will stay in the 6-packs for several weeks until they begin to fill out, develop stronger stems, make more leaves and start to be recognizable as tomato plants.
The next time the plants are potted up, they will be set deep into individual containers with potting soil
and a little mature compost to help them grow strong. This may sound nasty, but you bury them deep enough in the new pots that some of the early leaves will be under the soil, so you carefully tear these leaves off. Where the leaves were on the stems, roots will grow in the soil making the plant sturdier when it finally sees the garden soil.
The tomato seeds that I started in early January are just now moving into their own pots for the first time, so this process has taken about 6 weeks. It takes a long time to grow tomatoes from seed but I am really looking forward to all the pasta sauce and sundried tomatoes, salads, catsup…