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The First Tomato of 2011

March 17th, 2011

I haven’t even begun to start most of my summer garden seeds yet. I do have the seedling area filled with onions, leeks, and celery. I start those very early in January so they’re ready to move outside when it’s time to start the peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and other seeds. A week ago I started 5 seeds for ‘Sub-Arctic’ tomato. I like to start these early since they don’t seem to mind the cold weather.

I used to start my tomatoes super early, but last year I noticed that the ones I had spent hours carrying in and out of the basement, repotting and coddling didn’t fruit any faster than the ones that germinated in the soil outside when the time was right. My first tomato harvest was actually a volunteer that started on the front hillside. This year I’m going to be starting my tomatoes a little later than usual, that way I’ll spend less time repotting them and I can spend more time working in the garden.

I will be doing some experimenting with one variety of tomatoes. I’ll start a few seeds here in the next few days, a few in a couple weeks when I start all my tomatoes and I’ll direct sow a few seeds in the garden (all the same variety). It should be interesting to see how each one grows and produces. If the direct sown seeds do just as well I’ll plant all of my tomatoes that way in the future, that will sure save a lot of time and effort!

Are you doing anything differently this year in your edible garden? Have you started any of your tomato seeds?

23 Comments to “The First Tomato of 2011”
  1. Ken Toney on March 17, 2011 at 5:52 am

    I also will start my tomato and eggplant seeds a few weeks later this year. I started pepper seeds yesterday and will wait for them to germinate since they have the heating mat underneath their tray.

    I grew a couple of Sub-Arctic tomato plants last year. I liked them. I’ll grow them again this year.

    Another change is that I’m returning to my tried and true Blue Lake Bush beans. I grew them for several years and always put up 100 or more quarts of green beans. Then I started experimenting with other varieties, (Kentucky Pole, Contender, Roma, Jade). I didn’t like them as much. Either too stringy or not nearly as much yield as Blue Lake. This year I’ll grow 6 30′ rows of Blue Lake Bush.

    The big change in my garden is that I am building a high tunnel. I hope to start working on it next week.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

    • marcyincny on March 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Blue Lake beans are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. 6 30′ rows of ’em is an image that’s going to get me through the day!

      Reply to marcyincny's comment

  2. Kathi on March 17, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I’m always looking for a better way to stake my tomatoes. I have been using bamboo teepees. This year I am going to try making a heavy duty trellis with posts and wire. I’ve tried them before but only made out of string and bamboo. I am going to put pot my tomatoes and basil this weekend.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  3. Alan on March 17, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Your tomato seed study sounds very interesting – I hope to see the results in a future post. I am curious if direct seeding would help a plant fight off more diseases. It seems like our volunteers do not need as much attention in this regard, and they often sprawl on the ground.

    My biggest change is a determination to grow broccoli to fruition. I’ve started the seeds earlier than usual, and I will need a row cover to keep the cabbage worms at bay.

    Reply to Alan's comment

  4. Sense of Home on March 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I plan to have a few more plum tomato varieties this year, they take longer to mature and I have a short growing season so having a few more plants will produce enough for my sauces.


    Reply to Sense of Home's comment

  5. misti on March 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

    My mom has a garden plot this year in addition to her yard so we bought already started tomatoes for the plot and started a bunch of seeds. Now, having grown everything in Florida the past few years, starting in Texas is going to be a learning curve for us. Hoping it doesn’t get hot too soon this year!

    Reply to misti's comment

  6. Brittany P. on March 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Big changes for us this year. Last year we only grew a small garden of favorites and this year, we are trying and making it our goal to produce and put up as much of our own food as possible. We are planting familiar varieties this year and next year we will experiment a little more with lesser known (to us and our garden) plants like rhubarb and broccoli. I want to plant a good bit of beans this year and dry them for later use too. Last year we tried onions and for some reason they did not grow or change size the whole year, when we pulled them up they were still pretty much the same size as when we planted them. Don’t know why? Hmmmm..

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  7. Angela on March 17, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Hooray for your tomato seedlings! Yes, I started my tomatoes and peppers indoors 2 weeks ago, and I have seedlings already. In DC (zone 7a) I don’t usually move anything outside until the first week of May.

    What I’m doing different this year in my edible garden is growing onions and broccoli for the first time. We’ll see how they turn out.

    Reply to Angela's comment

  8. marcyincny on March 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

    This year I’m starting my eggplant and peppers two weeks before the tomatoes. Since they’re more compact they’re easier to manage before they go out and I’m also planning to use plastic mulch to warm the beds in the hope of harvesting something earlier than in past seasons.

    Reply to marcyincny's comment

  9. Daedre Craig on March 17, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I can’t believe you’re starting tomatoes already. What zone are you in Ohio? I’m in central Michigan and I have to wait at least another month! Our climates can’t be that different, can they?

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

    • Susy on March 17, 2011 at 11:05 am

      These are just a few early tomatoes that can take the cold. I won’t start my regular tomatoes until early April. My last frost date is May 15, but I usually don’t plant tomatoes in the garden until June 1 since night time temps can still get down into the 50’s in May.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Mary S. on March 17, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I’m holding off on my tomatoes, except a few I planted in winter sowing containers. It’ll be interesting to see if indoor vs. winter sowing makes any difference. Still, it’s fun to see something growing after this long winter.

    Reply to Mary S.'s comment

  11. amy on March 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Something different in my garden is that I am trying my hand at celeriac this year and artichokes:) I am happy to report they are both up and flourishing at the moment. Celeriac was supposed to be difficult to deal with but I do have starts. My friend pointed out unbeknownst to me that artichoke is a form of thistle…so I should have NO problems growing that:) I do hope it doesn’t go the path like the year I grew mustard……..

    Reply to amy's comment

  12. Amy on March 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

    We don’t have a good place to start seeds…maybe next year. This year, though, I plan to try a small hoop house to cover tomatoes and peppers, and will be experimenting with moving where we plant which veggies between our “big” garden (normally reserved for corn, beans, cucumbers and winter squash) and the oddly shaped raised beds (summer squash, tomatoes, beets, greens). Last year’s garden was a huge bust and I’m anxious to try some different things.

    Reply to Amy's comment

  13. KimH on March 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I havent started either peppers or tomatoes yet.. I need to unbury my basement seed starting bench first.. but I plan to get to it this week. I think I will just start them in larger pots so I dont have to do any transplanting later.. sure makes it all much easier & faster! ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  14. alan on March 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    my tomatoes came up today. We start them on a heat pad in mini-soil blocks. When they have germinated we pot them up and take them off the heat. They live in the greenhouse (unhead) for a month and a half. They grow very slowly. When it is transplant time they have thick stems, good roots, but they are not too tall. We put them out mid-May and they shoot up. This year I’m doing 9 varieties. About 200 plants in all.

    Reply to alan's comment

  15. Shannon Ball on March 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I am so excited to say that I am actually starting a garden this year! I planted my onion seed, but so far only 2 have sprouted, but i am happy with anything. I am glad you posted about tomatoes i have some pink heart seeds and i was wondering if i should start them indoors, I will just let them go outside.

    Reply to Shannon Ball's comment

  16. Kaytee on March 17, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I started one variety of tomatoes, just for the heck of it and as a slight experiment. I won’t start the rest of them until the first week of April (like you, I’m Zone 5). I’d like to hear how your direct seeded tomatoes fair. I worry that with our short growing season, there wouldn’t be enough time for a decent harvest.

    This year I’m going to try to grow all my plants from seeds. In the past I’ve bought plants for the garden, but this year I’m determined to successfully go from seed to seedlings to transferring them outdoors safely and getting them to grow.

    Reply to Kaytee's comment

  17. Terri on March 17, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Last year I direct sowed my tomato seeds into the garden on April 15 and promptly covered them with a gallon milk jug with the bottom cut out and no lid. Most all of my seeds germinated and I had healthy plants and a good tomato crop. I live in NE Pennsylvania.

    Reply to Terri's comment

  18. Gayle on March 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    This is my first year to have a garden. I have garlic, onions and lettuce growing outside. I have seedlings in my garage of swiss chard, many varieties of tomatoes…many kinds of peppers, shallots, leeks, two kinds of brussel sprouts (green & purple), two kinds of broccolli, 35 day spinach and 45 day spinach. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, don’t know if anything will actually live long enough to produce food…but I’m sure trying. Tomorrow I am planting my asparagus and potatoes. I want food that isn’t genetically modified and hasn’t had chemicals applied. I’m using companion planting as my pesticide.

    I have noticed that my heirloom tomato seedlings are not as robust as some of the others…maybe they are slow starters. Going to direct sow some as soon as the weather permits.

    Reply to Gayle's comment

  19. Renee on March 18, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Last year I had like half a flat of tomatoes that I moved outside too early and killed, then re-seeded too heavily and had a tomato jungle that kept my cucumbers from growing. This year, I have exactly 6 pots with 1-2 tomato spouts each started, and they’re larger pots (not just seed starters) so I can keep them indoors (unless it’s nice out) for longer and plant them outside later as larger seedlings.

    Reply to Renee's comment

  20. MAYBELLINE on March 18, 2011 at 1:24 am

    How funny. I started my tomatoes much earlier this year to allow me to plant my winter garden in late summer. Last year the tomatoes just kept on producing.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  21. Brooke - in Oregon on March 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Started a ton of tomatoes, I like to try new and different heirlooms each year adding to my favorites. We use concrete wire cages and they worked wonderfully last year. Plus they will last forever, but you have to have room to store them. I am also doing a big batch of different hot peppers, my family loves hot spicy stuff. Hoping the corn does as well this year as it did last year. Going to try green beans this year and okra both to pickle, since I have heard even okra haters like it pickled :)

    Reply to Brooke – in Oregon's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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