And the winner in the race to germination is… ‘Purple Calabash’ Tomato. Because I know some of you will ask, I will just go ahead and clarify that the drops of water on the leaves fell from condensation that had formed underneath the “greenhouse” lid and onto the leaves when I removed it and are not due to top watering or spraying.
Some of you have asked about mold and fungal problems when seed starting. Both top watering and spraying can cause these sorts of problems and should be avoided most especially when the seedlings are young and vulnerable. Watering seedlings from below by pouring into a tray or saucer rather than onto the soil gives you more control over both the quantity and distribution of water to the plant.
Captioning this photo required a long mental pause to determine how long it had been since my trip to Austin. It feels like months have passed when in fact this photo was taken exactly 16 days ago. I asked Davin to take a picture as a memento of my last interaction with a mature tomato plant until July. Although I am impatient, it is encouraging to know that in three to four months the little seedling above will look something like the plants in this picture.
For the gardener with an unsophisticated sense of humor. Myself included. Tomato’s tend to dominate this theme.
- ‘Black Seaman’ Tomato – No matter how I say it “seaman” always gets a snicker from the audience when I mention it in presentations and workshops.
- ‘Blow Fleisch’ Tomato – Huh?
- ‘Janet’s Little Sugar’ Tomato – Somehow putting “sugar” in the name leads to an unintended conclusion.
- ‘Magnum’ Tomato – I tried to stay away from the countless big, huge, giant etc jokes.
- ‘Pik’s Yogo’ Tomato – I don’t know what it means but it sounds like I’m getting too much information. Sort of like Oprah’s va-jay-jay.
- ‘Amateur’s Dream’ Tomato
- ‘Cream of Saskatchewan’ Melon
I recently sent off seed requests via Seeds of Diversity Canada, a seed exchange organization dedicated to the preservation of heritage varieties that I joined last summer. In the face of online ordering, the ease of PayPal transactions, and good ole’ email the whole experience felt downright old-fashioned, involving about three hours of painstaking reading and rereading instructions cross-referenced against further instruction. Having mastered that challenge I’m thinking about doing my taxes on paper, just for fun.
The process went as follows:
- Highlight selections. I chose yellow this time around. With a five-colour brick on hand I take my highlighting needs seriously.
- Next, decipher confusing abbreviated code and cross-reference abbreviated names and locations with a full list at the front of the catalogue to ascertain who to send money to and where.
- Address an envelope and affix appropriate postage. I can do this. This is familiar.
- Make copies of the printed form found in the middle of the catalogue. You will need copies if you plan to request from more than one grower or if you are prone to making mistakes on written forms yet insist on using indelible ink. I used the “copy” feature on my ancient and nearly useless fax machine. Surprisingly this was my second time turning it on in the same day. Hello 1993!
- Fill out the form. Oh crap, I do not know my membership number. Apparently I was supposed to keep the envelopes containing all correspondence from the organization since my membership number is printed on the mailing sticker. Apparently this was all outlined on my introductory membership letter. The introductory membership letter I filed away without reading because I do not care to read instructions. Write long-winded explanation for lack of membership number in supplied tiny space.
Was it worth it? Absolutely! The catalogue that arrived in my mailbox last month contained more plant names in one place than I have ever seen in my life. Making my way through it with the highlighter was a gardener’s wet dream, so-to-speak. Imagine 37 letter-sized pages of single-spaced text and no photographs dedicated entirely to tomatoes. From such an exhaustive list I bought only one variety, a purple cherry called ‘Haley’s Purple Comet’ that I fell in love with at a Tomato Tasting Party last August. I had not been able to locate seeds for this genetic fluke — a delicious love-child derived from tasty favourite ‘Cherokee Purple.’ And from another grower I ordered four lettuce varieties I have not seen available anywhere else: ‘Cheetah Oak’, ‘Devil’s Ear’s', ‘Ibis’ and ‘Drunken Woman.’ Surprisingly I ordered the last one for more than the name alone!
Placing completed forms and envelopes containing cash money into the mailbox this morning felt about as certain as making a dandelion wish and releasing it into the wind. Will my seed selections actually arrive or did I just buy lunch for some disenfranchised postal worker? Only time will tell.
The fragrant smell of these lilac-like blooms permeated the air wherever I went in Austin.