Starting the Drying Tomatoes

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Starting the Drying Tomatoes

On Christmas Day, as per family tradition, I started a few seeds of the drying tomatoes I like to grow early in the year, along with two indeterminate varieties that I wanted to get give a head start. I planted six seeds of each variety and kept them well moistened and on a heat mat under lights. Ten days in, here are the germination results:

‘Principe Borghese’ from Victory Seed Company, packed for 2009 = 100% germination
‘Principe Borghese’ from Pinetree Garden Seeds, packed for 2011 = 4 of 6
‘Principe Borghese’ from Franchi Sementi, packed for 2012/2013 = 3 of 6
‘Principe Borghese’ seed I saved in 2012 = 4 of 6
‘Oregon Spring’ from Territorial Seed Company, packed for 2009 = 4 of 6
‘Pruden’s Purple’ from Sustainable Seed Co., packed for 2011 = 5 of 6

Not the world’s strongest scientific evidence, but one thing I can tell you is those P. Borghese seeds from Victory Seed Company still rock!

Tomato Math: How Many Seedlings Does 64 Tomato Seeds Make?

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Heirloom Tomato SeedsIt nearly killed me, but I have managed to wait until March 6th to start my main season tomato plants. The early drying tomatoes, Principe Borgheses, are out in the garage under lights already. But this year I am following the planting schedule recommendations from the Common Ground Ecology Action Planting and Gardening Guide and it really does say to start tomatoes in flats in March. If truth be told, the printed version actually says, “Tomatoes, Early” under the Start in Flats column for March, but I am gardening to the south of their location in Palo Alto, so I am taking this gardening license.

The first batch consists of ‘Cherokee Chocolate’, ‘Pruden’s Purple’, ‘Aunt Ruby’s German Green’, ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Pineapple’, ‘Old Kentucky’, ‘Black Sea Man’ and ‘Orange Heirloom’. Eight varieties in all. Because I’m only starting a few of each type I chose not to use flats but to start the seeds in Fiber Grow Coir 8-packs I picked up at Common Ground. I planted eight seeds of each variety, two to a cell. Because the seed is from different years, germination may not be consistent, but I am hoping for at least two nice looking plants of each type. One for the Dirt to Dinner garden, and one for a friend we are starting tomatoes for this year.

Seedling IncubatorThe soil in the planted coir 8-packs was well misted, then I set the tray of all 64 seeds onto a covered heating mat, which I am hoping will keep them between 72 and 78 degrees. The temperature of the area was 68.8 degrees when I covered the heat mat. Then I covered the whole thing with a plastic storage bin to keep in the heat and moisture. An hour later the center section registered 74.7 degrees. Now, I just have to remember to keep the moisture right and wait for yet another week. When this group of tomatoes moves into the garage or cold frame, depending on the weather we get, it’ll be time to start the paste tomato varieties and the ‘Cherokee Purple’ trial. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.