Let’s Get Started: It’s Never Too Early.
It’s winter. It’s finally getting cold, although it took a long time. Right now might not seem like the best time to talk about gardening, and all of the activities that go along with it, but right now is not a bad time to start thinking about your summer harvest. You may be thinking, “You’re out of control Todd.” But let’s think about this. We all want beautiful tasty tomatoes, but what kind? When do I put them in the ground? Where do I get them?
Ok. Ok. Dizzying…Right?
I am going to use the tomato as an example, but you should do this same type of research for whatever you’re planting. Ask yourself:
What kind of space do I have? What would thrive in that space? Where am I? How did I get here? How did this happen? Some of those questions might be a little irrelevant, but you get the idea.
Tomato plants are either determinant or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes are typically smaller plants, which will bear their fruits all at once. These are great for a patio or a container and may require no staking to maintain their stability. They have low maintainance in terms of pruning, but they have shorter production seasons. The best tasting tomatoes are usually indeterminate, but they will require some more space, and care. Also, indeterminates will produce until they are killed by the first frost.
- Indeterminate or determinate???
After you find what type of tomato plant is ideal for your setting, the next step is to find an individual tomato that fits characteristics that you desire. A couple of great places to look for some heirloom varieties of seeds include: The Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. These websites, and or catalogs will have detailed descriptions of the fruit, and considering the extensive variety you should have no trouble finding your ideal tomato. You can also go to the Home Depot, and get some seeds there, but watch out for hybrids. These plants may be appealing, but these plants cannot be bred true (or, in other words, would create deformed babies). By choosing an open-pollinated heirloom variety you will be able to get a predictable and true second generation seed.
Well, everybody loves tomatoes, so I thought it would be a great place to start.
Just so you know, tomatoes can go in the ground after the last frost. For us, Pittsburgh, that is about May 15th. For the 2011 growing season, I got my tomatoes in late and experienced a shortened growing season. So, if you’re thinking about starting seedlings indoors, up to eight weeks before the last frost and as late as sometime between April 7th and the 20th would be just fine, and any time after the last frost, and before June 1st would be great to get them in the ground.
As soon as I can, I’ll put a short post about growing your seedlings indoors. I did it last year, having no idea what I was doing and it worked out just fine. Here is a fairly comprehensive planting guide.
Just as a quick recap:
- START TOMATO SEEDS INDOORS 4 to 8 weeks before the last frost – March 20th –> April 17thish
- GET TOMATOES OUTSIDE Any time after the last frost – May 15th –> June 1st
- ENJOY YOUR TOMATOES When ripe
Ok everyone, mark your calendars!
We are Bridge City Guerrilla Gardens. Let’s bridge the gap between us, our food, and our communities.
In the coming 2 months, I will be out of town, and out of service. Bridge City Guerrilla Gardens will be back in full force by the end of February. THANK YOU.