Just Start: Planting the Tomatoes

The weather was beautiful yesterday: sunny and in the 60s. I was excited to get the tomatoes in the ground. I was ready to go by 7 in the morning, but I stalled inside…cleaning my room….doing laundry. Planting the tomatoes was a daunting task.

They were leggy, tangled, and there are just too many plants for the amount of space I have.

I finally convinced myself to just start. All I had to do was put on my shoes and walk outside. That’s it. And after that, I can turn around and walk inside and tell myself, “I’ll plant the tomatoes tomorrow.”

But…as these things often go…one thing leads to another, and before you know it, you’re on a roll!

It took less than an hour so, start to finish. I have twelve tomato plants in the ground I even set up the tomato cages!

It feels so good to have that done.

My Favorite Summer Sandwich

I know there are people in the world who don’t like tomatoes, but I don’t understand that. My absolute favorite thing to eat in summer is a tomato mayo sandwich. I suppose it’s a BLT without the bacon or lettuce…so just a T?

It’s essential to use a large, juicy tomato. I forgot to take a photo of it before I sliced it – I was just so excited to eat it. Best part of summer. Tomatoes….yum!

Treating Tomato Blossom-End Rot

I noticed the other day that my Cuore di Bue tomatoes – which I was so proud of – are suffering from blossom-end rot.

I’ve heard in the past that blossom-end rot is due to insufficient calcium or too much or too little water. I confirmed this with the Oregon Extension. I’ve heard of people sprinkling eggshells around their tomatoes to prevent this (although some people say this is hogwash).

It’s entirely possible that we’ve been watering too much or too little, but in case the problem is not water, but rather calcium, I’m adding calcium in the form of this oyster shell fertilizer around the tomatoes. It contains 35% calcium according to the package.

While I was at it, I sprinkled oyster fertilizer around the cabbage (both the cabbage I planted in the spring and the cabbage I planted this past weekend).

The cabbage that I planted months ago in the spring remains headless. I’ve read that one reason cabbage might not form a head is calcium deficiency. Maybe this will help?

The Tomato Seedlings Have Sprouted!

Hooray! The tomato seedlings have germinated!

I planted them in an area of yard that gets a bit more afternoon sun. I didn’t add any compost or dig up the soil in anyway, and the rats/squirrels aren’t interested in digging over there. Woohoo!

This is also proof to myself that tomato seeds can at least germinate just fine outdoors…it is yet to be seen whether they will grow enough to produce actual tomatoes….

This may be a continuation of this seasons theme: germination – great! Then the seedlings fizzle and die.

When Should I Sow Tomato Seeds?

Since I saved some tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about what I want to plant next year in the garden….and when to plant what.

I moved here in July, and just started putting things in the ground as soon as I could get around to it, without any real rhyme or reason, just to see what I could get to grow. This was my practice year. Next summer is a chance to do it right!

I don’t have a full list of what I want to grow next year, but I know tomatoes will be on the list. In Seattle, we didn’t sow tomato seeds in the greenhouse until late February, and we usually waited to put them in the ground until early May. The climate is milder here, though, so I imagine I can start tomatoes a bit earlier.

According to garden.org, in my zipcode it looks like I should be starting most spring crops as early as November – even before Thanksgiving!. Tomato seeds can be sown as early as November 25th.

Screenshot of garden.org planting calendar

I am skeptical about this planting calendar. Most sources say to sow tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. My last frost date is Feb 22nd. Counting backwards, I should sow tomato seeds December 28th at the earliest, not November 28th! Garden.org must have done their math wrong…

I turned to the trusty Margaret Roach’s seed starting calculator, which states the same general guideline (sow tomato seeds 6-8 weeks before last frost), and plugged in my quoted last frost date of February 22nd, expecting to get December 28th…. Nope!

November 3rd! That’s crazy!

Some of the dates in Margaret Roach’s calculator are slightly different, but overall, they’re pretty similar to garden.org. Hmmm…..

Screenshot of part of Margaret Roach’s planting calendar for comparison

What is going on? Does it have to do with day length in the middle of winter? I’m not sure. Most people use grow lights nowadays so daylight shouldn’t matter that much. Does anyone have any ideas?

I’ll probably split the difference, and start seeds in mid-December. My fall crops will probably still be in the ground when I start seeds for spring. It’s non-stop gardening here!