I’ve got tomatoes on the brain these days. Last weekend I had a table at Seedy Saturday at the Brickworks here in Toronto and the highlight was trading for some new tomato varieties. I walked away with at least ten new varieties feeling like a kid in a candy shop. That giddy feeling hasn’t worn off. I love tomatoes! The hard part comes next in deciding which to grow.
Later, when I got home from the event I took stock of my total tomato seed collection and was shocked to discover that I have collected over 130 varieties. I had never bothered to count before now. No wonder I have a harder and harder time narrowing down the list that will end up in the soil each year!
Last year was my best tomato season ever. By the time the hard frost hit we had harvested 110lbs of ripe fruit (NOT including cherry or currant varieties) plus another 30 or so pounds in green tomatoes. I don’t think I grew more plants than I have in the past as there were years when I was able to split the plants up between 3 gardens, and I recall one year just under a decade back when I was able to fit 16 plants into the community garden plot, plus the same on the roof. I think the windfall came down to even better, sunnier growing conditions and a really hot summer.
It’s become a tradition and now that I live in an Italian neighbourhood it’s pretty much a requirement. When my local Italian greengrocer set out the seed rack I did a little happy dance, and it was then that I knew I was doomed to buy more seed than I will ever have room to grow.
Cucumber ‘Spuredda Leccese’ – While not technically a cucumber (Cucumis sativa), this Italian melon (Cucumis melo) from the Puglia region (Southern Italy) is eaten like one. I have seed for several Italian cucumber/melon varieties and am quite taken with them. The poorly translated product description was also a selling point. “It has to be harveste the unripe fruit and consumpted in salad.” It’s either going to be awesome in a salad or bring about the consumption — I like the promise of a little risk.
Arugula ‘Selvetica’ aka rucola selvatica (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) – This is my favourite arugula, hands down, and even though I have several packets from other companies, I can’t seem to stop buying it. Just in case! If The Apocalypse comes in 2012 I will not be without.
Onion ‘Tropea Rossa Tonda’ – I am partial to red onion varieties and am more likely to plant them than white. It’s the colour! This one has an interesting shape and matures to red. I’ve long since started my onion seed — these will go in the second sowing. I believe these may be a short day variety so I don’t know what kind of luck I will have with them; however, we have no shortage for scallion usage so I’d be okay if they never reach bulb size.
While it is still early days yet here in the upper regions of North America, many of us (myself included) have begun the process of buying and planting seeds for the 2012 gardening season. There are 12 years of resources published on this website, many of which even I have trouble locating, so I’ve compiled a list here to make it easier for you.
Caring for Seedlings & Planting Out
This morning, a group of farmers and organic seed growers have gathered at a hearing in New York City to present oral arguments as the first phase in what could turn out to be an historic lawsuit brought against biotech giant Monsanto.
The suit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto, was brought as a pre-emptive suit by a group of 83 co-plaintiffs that seeks, in part, to protect themselves against the alleged patent infringement suits that they fear they will face if their seed becomes contaminated by transgenic (aka GMO) genetics.
“According to the Public Patent Foundation, Monsanto has one of the most aggressive patent assertion agendas in history. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts.“
I am currently on a long flight to Thailand. Either that or I am currently in Thailand and passed out from a bad case of jet lag. I haven’t worked out the math. Before leaving for the trip, I assessed my seedling situation and decided that plants that were busting out of their seed starting pots would need to be repotted into larger containers if they were going to have a shot at thriving during my time away.
It’s surprising how much plants can grow in two weeks time!
I also decided to do this in consideration of our house sitter who is significantly over-loaded with plants to care for while we are away as well as a fussy, prima donna cat that will probably hiss and swipe at him at least once before our return. Plants that have overgrown their containers tend to dry out quickly and he’s got enough on his plate between my ever-expanding collection of houseplants and the myriad of seedlings I’ve got on the go in anticipation of gardening season.