No turning back. The tomatoes are planted.

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Finally. Note: those are cut-up vinyl miniblinds that I use as markers.

I think I have cooled my heels long enough and I have finally begun planting the warmth-loving seeds of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. A couple of things made me hesitate. There’s laziness, surely; I can be a real slug on occasion. And then there’s the realization that I don’t really give a darn if I am the first in my neighborhood to harvest a tomato. My next-door neighbor always wins that prize anyway with his half-grown garden-center plants.

Nah. Instead, I am trying to make my seedlings happy by setting them into toasty-warm garden soil. I always rush to plant these things, and reliably, we’ll get a few chilly nights that causes me to run for covers for them. Straw- and blanket-strewn garden beds in early May? Maybe if I wait a couple of weeks, I needn’t do the mad dash.

But I wonder. Is this an instance of “with age comes wisdom”? Quelle horreur.

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8 responses to “No turning back. The tomatoes are planted.

  1. Hey, that is what I did this weekend too. I am reusing cut up yogurt containers for my labels. They have a little section at the top (near where the lid was) where I put the general plant type (tomato, eggplant, etc.) and on the stem I write the variety.

    When I am done with them, I can either tuck them away for next year, or send them off to be recycled.

    How many tomato plants is too many? I have 11 varieties to plant, but there is a little debate in our house about how many of each. Bea seems to think ~6 of each (66 plants!), while I think ~4 of varieties that we plan to store (can, dry, freeze) and ~2 for varieties we intend to only eat fresh. What do you grow for your family of 3, and how far do they go?

  2. TechS: what a good question. I suppose it really depends on how much you like tomatoes! I am the only person in the household who eats them raw, though every year, my daughter tries: I therefore have only a few plants geared toward that (small tomatoes mainly) and the rest are geared toward extended use. I believe I had 40 intentional plants last year (by “intentional” I mean they didn’t spring up from the compost heap, though I did have about 5 of those, too, that I allowed to keep growing). Mostly, I grow paste tomatoes and juice tomatoes. My sauce always is kind of watery, frankly. I don’t really care as it tastes pretty good. I do a bit of drying but not much. For the three of us, to have at least one tomato-based meal once a week in the off season, 25 plants would do the job if you grow productive varieties. More is of course better…

  3. Hey, thanks! That is helpful. We all love tomatoes at our place, so maybe Bea is right on (which is not unusual). Maybe I was just reluctant because we do not even have a place outside prepared for them yet (yikes!). I look at the 38 sets of onions and 18 sets of leeks and feel a little bit of panic already. The 32 tomato plantings + the 24 peppers + 8 eggplants did not do much to help. We have only planted 22 varieties of the ~90 that we have….

    The future garden is all still lawn…. I am going to go back to work now and try to ignore my real life for a little while longer.

  4. That’s what we did this weekend also. We planted 4 tomato plants, 2 varieties, and 6 peppers, 3 different varieties. That should keep us for now. Last year we had 5 tomatoes and 7 peppers, and I still have peppers in the freezer. We thought to only plant one or two peppers, but noooo, we got 8, planted 6 and gave away 2. I may try canning tomatoes this year. Maybe. If I get that brave. I wish I had a teacher.

  5. I discovered (by accident) an easy way to reduce sauce-wateriness. Chop the tomatoes and throw them in a bowl or your cooking pot. Ignore for a couple hours. The juice will leak out and separate – solids at the bottom, watery juice at the top. You can pour most of this off without losing the tomato-y bits, then cook. This way, the sauce is fairly thick by the time my patience runs out…

    Also, if you have trouble with sauce being too acidic (and of course, you want acid if you’re canning), add a 1/4 tsp of baking soda as you’re warming the sauce up before eating. Neutralizes the acid rather than covering it up.

  6. Ummm, tomatos! So many months away still! My favorite single batch product from the excess is homemade catsup. Tastes divine, no harder/different than canning a thick sauce – change change the flavorings, add spices.

  7. TechS: I guess the lesson there is always listen 😉 And don’t sweat it we have a LONG time until planting season starts! But I love the idea that you’ll be saying bye-bye lawn.

    Jules, I don’t think too many frozen peppers is such a problem. I swear I am going to freeze some this year too; I am planting a lot of Italian red ones this year. And as far as canning instructions, heck, I wish I had had a teacher, too! I just plunged in.

    Thanks for the tips, Emily! I somehow can’t bear with parting with the watery bits, though; it’s why I have jars of juice down there on the shelves. Quite great to have home-made Bloody Marys for brunch…

    Hayden, yeah, ketchup/catsup is great to make at home. I use my cherry tomatoes for it, as they’re naturally pretty sweet. I LOVE the way the boiling ketchup makes the kitchen smell! This year, I am going to try my hand at making my own mustard, too.

  8. I plant everything in its due time outside, and am happy to be behind a little because (1) we have a long growing seasno here in Georgia and (2) that means I buy from the farmers market while my crops are still maturing, and then I get to enjoy mine while the farmers are premiering the next set of crops grown early.

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