A New Year, A New Adventure

As I sit here at the computer, glancing out the window at the birds hungrily invading my feeders, I am pleased with life in general. I have remained healthy throughout the pandemic, been able to organize my life somewhat, and am now embarking on a favorite time of year - starting seeds. My orders went in early, as last year many seed companies ran out of some seeds as they were inundated with new customers hoping to have their own Victory Gardens. I hope that many of those new time gardeners will continue their quest for home grown vegetables and herbs.

Well, I've done it again, though. I wanted to order some Tumbler tomatoes for my daughter, as she tried her own porch grown veggies and herbs last year. Tumbler is a type especially made for containers, as her small growing area really doesn't work for those large, indeterminate plants. When I went to order, I couldn't resist getting a few more types, and now I have a total of 18 different tomatoes. Three cherry types, three paste types, and the rest an assortment of heirlooms, in many colors, including green, purple, pink, orange, red, and bi-colors. I love having a plate of sliced tomatoes of various hues in the summer - that's what gardening is all about.

Kellogg's Breakfast - a large orange beefsteak with incredible flavor

I learned about growing tomatoes from my dad, who went each year to a store called Spag's in Shrewsbury. If you come from the Worcester area, and are old enough, you know that Spag's was an institution that sadly no longer exists. Before warehouse shopping even was an idea, Spag's was an experience that proved to be very popular. "No bags at Spag's" was one of their mottoes, and I can remember going with my folks and snatching an almost empty box in which to carry our items. Things were placed in cartons, no shelves to speak of, and their huge parking lot was always filled with people looking for a deal. And were there deals! We always waited for that day in May when the tomato plants came in. Spag's gave away bundles of plants to anyone who wanted them. I think there were 25 plants in each bundle, bare root, and no labels as to what they were. My dad coaxed those plants into giving us some of the best tomatoes I can remember having.

Once I was older and on my own, I became enamored of Organic Gardening magazine. I read it from cover to cover, and became aware of all the types of plants I could try if I bought my own seeds. I began small, in the basement, setting up some shop lights (with one warm, one cool bulb) and some bottom heat. My success with those early plantings gave me the confidence to branch out and try other things. I gave away lots of plants in those days, not thinking that I could make some extra cash by selling them. When I decided to open my business, growing became a profession instead of a hobby.

Potting up pepper and herb plants

Today, I planted my eggplants and peppers. I've learned that they are slow growers, so I need to get a jump on them. This year is the earliest I've planted any vegetables. I will wait until the end of February or the first of March to start the tomatoes - they are more vigorous growers and if I start them too early they will need "potting up" to a larger pot too soon. You don't want the plant to become root bound, as that sets it back when they are finally planted in the ground. Also, the sun will be out longer and at a better angle once March rolls around, so the plants will do better in the greenhouse and I won't have to supplement the light as I will need to do with the peppers and eggplants. The new lights I have eat up electricity at an astonishing rate, so putting more plants in the greenhouse makes economic sense.

Fish Hot Pepper - a variegated hot pepper, both foliage and peppers

The best part of planting from seed is seeing those first green shoots coming out of the earth. I continue to get a thrill at the wonder of nature and anticipation of the circle of life. And, I'll hopefully have lots of tomato plants for sale come May!

Sow your own magic and plant some seeds!

Karen