Extra Tomato Seedlings: What Do Geiger Correctional, Local Food Banks, And The Tomato Lady, Have In Common?

Read on for the answer.

I was able to transplant the little green guys in the last couple of days. Not trying to toot my own horn but I gave the “leavings” away to the Geiger Correctional facility. (I had met one of the correctional offices at a banquet honoring our local law enforcement and since I ride with SCOPE Mounted Patrol, was able to participate. He had expressed interest in my plants and I invited him out to see them. Last year he came and bought several flats of them.)

I always plant what I know I can sell and since I tend to over seed, I usually have leftovers. What to do with the leftovers. Bright idea – offer them to Geiger! I emailed and offered and they were very happy about it.

Either I give them to friends or wait until they grow to big for the cell pack, roots coming out the bottom, looking a little peaked and then toss them out. Kind of like leftovers in your fridge, you’d feel bad tossing it out right after dinner, even knowing you won’t ever eat it. No, you have to wait until you discover them at the back of the fridge and they look something like a science experiment gone bad. Only then can you profess surprise and astonishment and feel righteous about throwing them out! You all know what I am talking about.

Thanks to Zac, Dan and Ray for coming out to get the plants. And thanks for allowing me to show you how we transplant and care for them here at The Tomato Lady. The inmates at Geiger have a spectacular garden and start most of their plants from seed, however, these are like instant tomatoes, just transplant, water and pouf, you have a tomato plant. They harvest all the veggies they grow and give them to food banks and other places that hand out food. I believe they delivered over 23,000 pounds of food last year. It serves more than one purpose, hungry people get fed fresh produce and it gives the inmates a sense of accomplishment. Everybody wins!

I was so excited for them to go to a good home. There is going to be a lot of head shaking when they show up with striped, yellow, pink and green tomatoes. Instead of the usual red they know and love. All I can say, is live a little and try something different. You might be surprised at what you’ve been missing by only eating red tomatoes!

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Try Something New: Dwarf Fred’s Tye Dye Tomato

fred's-tye-dyeMeet Fred’s Tye Dye. I don’t know who Fred is but I love his tomato. This is another tomato out of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It is the most beautiful color, hopefully you can see the stripes in this picture, it is from my garden. The taste was delicious. The growth habit very manageable as you can see below. This is a mid season producer and is one of the taller dwarfs although mine didn’t get any taller than 4 feet. It was one of the first ones to color up. As with any heirloom, size varies from baseball to softball size. One of the other things I like about the dwarfs is their stocky stems and their rugose, regular leaves, very crinkly and dark green.

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Over all, I was impressed with the tomatoes I grew out of the Dwarf Tomato Project with the exception of one.

Try Something New: Big Cheef Dwarf Tomato

big-cheef.jpgYes, these came from a dwarf tomato plant. Part of the Dwarf Tomato Project. It was very tasty and produced an ample supply of tomatoes for such a small plant. Staked, in a large pot, it was maybe 4 feet. Perfect for someone who wants to grow slicing tomatoes without taking up much room, such as a deck or apartment balcony. A very pretty dark pinkish fruit.

Information about the Dwarf Tomato Project. I’d put the link to their website but apparently the server has gone down.

This remarkable project was started in 2005 by Patrina Nuske-Small of Australia and Craig LeHoullier of Raleigh, North Carolina, and by February 2011 it had over 250 volunteers growing out various tomato crosses and segregation lines, selecting for new dwarf varieties with the best taste and unique color characteristics. This project is still continuing, and it will yield many more tomato varieties with heirloom taste and perfect for space-challenged home gardeners.

This is the very first all volunteer world-wide tomato breeding project in documented gardening history. None involved are botanists or horticulturists – just avid gardeners with a keen interest in learning about tomato genetics or discovering interesting new tomatoes.

All Tomato Dwarf Project varieties are associated with the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI)

The OSSI Pledge – “ You have the freedom to use these OSSI seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents, or other means, and to include this pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.” The seed packets that you share or sell should include this information.

Cinder Block Herb Garden | Hometalk

cinder-block-herb-garden-container-gardening-gardening-repurposing-upcycling

What a great idea, plus the block will provided added warmth for things like basil which really need it.

Being limited on space in our raised garden gave us the motivation to seek out an alternative way to plant our herbs. What better way than putting some old cind…

Source: Cinder Block Herb Garden | Hometalk

Starting Seeds in March

This has to be the longest winter I can remember. In 2008 we had lots of snow but it didn’t stick around for 3 months as it has this year. We can’t even put up our third greenhouse yet due to snow on the ground! Did I mention it is March 3rd?

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Above are pictures of our tomato babies, as yet unborn. There are approximately 5000 seeds in the various gray cells. We bottom watered them with almost a gallon of hot water for each flat on March 1st and then the were moved to the shelves under the lights. In about 7 days they will germinate. It’s actually quite exciting checking them everyday, most times twice a day, to see if they’ve raised their tiny, green heads.

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This is a close up of some of the cells. I spent several hours every day spreading the tiny seeds in rows of 50 to 35 seeds in each cell. This year I even used tweezers to keep them orderly. Doing it over a couple days saved my back big time!

Once they get their first set of true leaves, I will transplant them into 3.5″ pots and they will go out into the greenhouses.

One very important tip when starting seeds: Use a sterile seed starting/germination mix. It will help tremendously in not getting damping off. Nothing is worse than seeing them lush and healthy one day and watching them fall over the next. Very sad. It doesn’t matter whether you are starting tomatoes or petunias in a greenhouse or inside your family home. Since I started using a sterile mix I haven’t had damping off. You can get it at NW Seed and Pet and possibly other big box stores.

Mucho Nacho Jalapeños and Emerald Fire Jalapeños -A Germinators Dream! (at least this year)

Every once in a while you meet a plant that you really like. This year, mine is the Mucho Nacho Jalapeño and the Emerald Fire Jalapeño, Peppers are notoriously hard to germinate, especially the superhots (Carolina Reapers, Ghost and Trinidad Scorpions) and the hot (Tabasco, Habanero, Serrano, Hungarian Yellow Wax etc.) to mildly hot (Jalapeños, Numex Big Jim, Anaheims, Poblanos etc.) Some of the hot peppers can take up to 4 weeks or more to germinate and then if you get 50% you think you are doing pretty good.

 

mucho-nacho-jalapeno2Mucho Nacho is a new one for me this year. It is supposed to be hotter, fatter, longer, more prolific, well, you get the picture, than a regular Jalapeño. It was the first one to germinate and it was very happy, vibrant and healthy. Lush. I can’t say enough about it.

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The Emerald Fire was a close second. Germination on both of these were close to 90 – 95% which is really good. Nice strong stems, beautiful true leaves, easy to handle when transplanting into 3.5” pots.

For those of you who germinate your own seeds in a greenhouse you can understand how happy I was to handle these guys. Some plants, especially flowers practically require magnifying glassed and tweezers!

jalapeno-green-pepperMucho Nacho Jalapeños – 68-70 Days

An impressive Jalapeño from Mexico, large, 4” fruits are fatter, thicker, heavier, hotter, and up to a full inch longer than regular Jalapeños. They start off green and mature to red. Vigorous and prolific, they set heavy loads about a week earlier than is typical of Jalapeños.

ad8bf754-f0b0-446d-992d-573a80710745_1000Emerald Fire Jalapeño – 90 Days

These hot peppers are good for salsa, pickling, grilling, and stuffing, Extra-large, thick-walled, crack-resistant peppers, plump and delicious. Emerald Fire is very prolific and there will be enough peppers to share with your friends and family!

Winner of a 2015 All-America Selection, Emerald Fire is compact enough for patio containers, but may need some support to hold up all the peppers! Easy to grow, standing up to heat, humidity, and refuses to crack. Long season but worth the wait!