Interesting Trivia About Tomatoes: Fruit or Vegetable?

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Is it a fruit or vegetable?

In 1887, the US Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were vegetables even though they are specialized reproductive structures that contain seeds. They said:

“Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common knowledge of the people…all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and…are usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats…and not like fruits generally as dessert.”

Whew! Tomato Transplants Are All Done, 6500!

Took me almost four days but they have been relocated to their own little patch of heaven, a 3.5 inch pot! Better yet, I got the website up and updated with all of my 2013 varieties, all 161 of them. My peppers have been updated too, 41 varieties. If you are interested in tomatoes and peppers, check it out. There is a lot of info on how to plant them and grow them to great heights. Plus, you will be amazed how many kinds and colors there are.

the website address is:   http://www.thetomatolady.com

Watering Tomato and Pepper Plants

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Watering Tomato and Pepper Plants

After an initial watering from the top, we bottom water so as not to encourage damping off. They will wick it up from the bottom getting right to where it needs to go – the roots.

Starting Seeds Under Lights in the House

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Starting Seeds Under Lights in the House

This is a shelving rack with ordinary fluorescent lights hovering just above flats full of tomato plants. The lights need to be close to provide light and warmth otherwise the plants will get leggy

Starting Tomatoes and Peppers From Seed

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Starting Tomatoes and Peppers From Seed

When growing for your home garden, start seeds 8 weeks prior to the last frost date. Always use sterile seed starting mix and sterile pots. Buy them new every year or sterilize used pots with a 10% bleach solution. Sometimes I run mine through the dishwasher on the top rack and toss a little bleach in before I start the wash cycle (damping off can be a real problem if you don’t.)

Place the seeds on top of the medium; cover with about 1/4” inch of mix and press down with your hands to smooth. Sprinkle with water from a “gentle” watering can to avoid washing the seeds away. I then fill my flats with hot water until they start floating, they will absorb this.

Put them in a warm place. Mine go under ordinary fluorescent lights, about an inch away from the flats, in the dining room. The heat from the lights keep it warm. (You can use bottom heat such as a heating mat or the top of refrigerator if you like.) Bottom water as needed, don’t let them dry out. In about a week you should start to see germination. Grow them under the lights until you see the first true leaves, a pair of true leaves. Transplant into larger pots.

Peppers seem to take forever to germinate, sometimes as much as 3 weeks. Tomatoes can be up as early as 4 days from planting.

Key points for maximum success:
sterile seed starting mix
sterile pots
warm location for germination
water from the bottom
good ventilation

These basic instructions work for just about every seed you want to start in pots to get a jump on the season. I will post more on starting different kinds of seeds and their needs in other posts so stay tuned.

Truly Exhausted but Triumphant

So, yesterday, March 25, I planted around 4000 tomato seeds with the help of two friends, Heidi Eutsler, Kathy Kjelgaard and my lovely husband, Steve. It’s not back breaking (unless you count hunched over for hours) but when you are doing 168 plus varieties, it’s a lot of work. I use a sterile seed germinating mix and sterile containers. This cuts down on the problem of damping off. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I transplanted 2000 babies (tomato plants). Now that’s back breaking! Friday night it got really cold and the two heaters we had in the greenhouse didn’t cut the mustard and when I checked on them the next morning, they looked like canned spinach. Not a good thing. I lost 300 plants. The next night, we put in 4 heaters, (space heaters) and ti worked like a charm. Good thing since I had spent the day transplanting. Today, I am going to transplant pepper plants. 

Signs of Life

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Signs of Life

Early last week I planted some seeds that need longer grow times than others. They are geraniums, lobelia, alyssum, snaps, hollyhocks, petunias, foxglove, stock and impatiens. I also planted 42 “Sungold” tomato seeds in a small cell type of flat as an experiment. (The only drawback is that it needs constant water. These are under lights in the house. My onions (5 kinds) are out in the small greenhouse since they don’t need as much warmth to germinate. Anyways…there are finally signs of life! It’s always exciting to see green coming up in the little flats, The hollyhocks were the first to show themselves, followed by the “Paint Box” geraniums. Yeah! We look at them every morning and night to see what’s new. I divided my seed packets into early, mid and later timeframes to start them. My tomatoes won’t be started until March, the peppers a little earlier. The funny things is, by the end of the season (fall) I am ready to lay down asphalt in the garden. I get so tired of weeding and dragging hose. I swear I’m done with gardening. In january the seed catalogs start coming and I think it’s like having a baby, you forget how much it hurt and can’t wait to do it again. Thats how it is with gardening…OR… maybe it’s just being tired of gray skies and brown lawn.

Catalog Fever: Botanical Interests

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I’ve started going through my seed catalogs. If I recycled them by the pound I’d have about 20 dollars worth. Some of these catalogs are miniature works of art. Beautiful pictures and fascinating information make it a pleasure to read through them. So far, I’ve gotten through 3 catalogs. One I’d like to recommend is “Botanical Interests”. Their website is http://www.botanicalinterests.com I was intrigued with their hand drawn illustrations which brought out the beauty in the flowers and the vegetables. Of course I’ve always thought that veggies are decorative in themselves. This year I will order the “Calypso Beans”, Lettuce; “Butterhead Speckles,” and a couple of melons; “Minnesota Midget” and “Canary Tweety”. I know, I know, I’ve never had good luck with melons but these look interesting and have shorter maturation dates. All gardeners keep trying, don’t we? For flowers, I will order a dianthus called” Rainbow Loveliness” one of the sweetest smelling and most delicate flowers I’ve ever had the pleasure to grow. I’m a big fan of impatiens and they have “Swirl Monet Blend”, a picotee blossom that looks like it’s in shades of pink. With all of the catalogs out there, most of whom are offering the same varieties, it can be hard to choose who to order from. It’s nice when a catalog goes above and beyond just trying to sell you seeds and treats you to a satisfying, visual experience, That alone sets them apart from the crowd and makes me want to purchase from them. Check out their catalog!