Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dead Tomato Debacle 2014

Baby tomato plant smelling hands made me do it.
I had big plans for tomatoes this year. Big plans, I tell you. I got on the ball back in February and planted tomatoes and peppers from seed the likes my little basement grow lights have never seen. Twenty-seven tomatoes and nine pepper plants. Where was I going to plant all this bounty? Who the hell cared! It was February! I had months to sort all this out.

I diligently watered and spritzed and stroked and coaxed them along through March and April. At that point, I figured I should probably transplant them into bigger pots. But where was I going to put all these up-potted plants? Um, who cares! I'll just move them directly to the greenhouse later and transplant them directly! Brilliant!

May rolled around and I figured I should really start doing something about all these heat loving plant starts, so I moved them out to the greenhouse to transplant. So, off they went! Into the greenhouse! I diligently watered them. And watered them. And then promptly forgot about them.

Twenty-seven tomato plants turned into crusty, dried up little boogers before my very eyes. The peppers survived a little longer, but by now I was so despondent I ignored the horrible mass slaughter that had occurred in the greenhouse.

June rolled around and I figured I better do something to mitigate what was turning out to be a very empty greenhouse experience and went out and bought some tomato and pepper starts from my local nursery. Six tomato plants (3 Celebrity and 3 Roma) and a couple of Jalapeno, Habanero, Cayenne, Chocolate Bell and Ancho peppers to round things out.

I then promptly ignored all my new starts, but fear overtook me and I finally got off my butt and planted the tomatoes and most of the peppers. Needless to say, late June small start tomato plantings do not bode well for an early tomato season.

But! This weekend my first Roma tomatoes ripened and it looks like we'll have some plant recovery enough for tomato eating, but probably not much beyond that.

Have I learned anything from this experience? Probably not. I'm sure next year, in the grips of the Seattle darkness and rain, I'll plant far too many tomato seeds and water and spritz and stroke and coax them along. Just so that I have the smell of baby tomato plants on my hands to get me through the winter and early spring. It's like a drug. Damn baby tomato plants.

How about you? How successful are you at growing plants from seed? Or do you just dispense with it altogether and get plant starts?


Anna (Green Talk) said...

I grow everything by seed but have killed my fair share of seedling too. It is really cool to see them flourish in the garden.

27 tomato plants? What were you thinking?

Crunchy Chicken said...

I know, right? I have absolutely no room to plant 27 tomato plants. Well, I suppose I could if that all I grew this year.

Diane said...

I got 6 amazing organic heirloom tomato plants from my usual source, planted them in the garden and all were doing well until "Tropical Storm" (hurricane!) Arthur hit and took them all out - all except one. I then bought 6 more from a garden store - not heirloom, not organic, but all they had left and they, along with the one remaining heirloom Roma and another from a neighbour are struggling in a summer drought that has turned my large garden into a sandbox. (Our soil is pure red sandstone). Now another Tropical Storm is heading up the Atlantic Coast!!

Sometimes you just can't win.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Diane - Can you amend with compost and use mulch to help with keeping in the moisture or is it just too hot?

Good luck with the tropical storm. I don't know how you guys on the East Coast deal with all that.

Diane said...

I do compost - although my garden is an old horse/cow pasture so doesn't really need it. I also mulched but probably not enough. Our soil is so fine (Prince Edward Island, Canada) - basically just fine sand - that it dries out very quickly. I have watered it but we are on a well and the only source of water on our island is groundwater so I hesitate to use too much. We just really need some good soaking rain - but NOT another Tropical Storm.

Still, these hurricanes are nothing compared to our howling winter nor'easters that can drop up to 50 cm. of snow in less than 24 hours with sustained winds of 100 plus km/h.

Yeah - living on an island in the Atlantic ocean has its challenges . . .

Green Bean said...

I too started dozens of tomatoes from seed this year. They sprouted and grew and all of them stopped growing at about 3 inches tall. They stayed that way for months. I kept watering, fertilized with liquid kelp, and so on. Eventually, I threw in the towel and ordered seedlings. They mostly made it okay but I'd say only 2/3 are doing well. The others are just sort of languishing. Always next year I guess. Every now and then Fortune smiles on my tomatoes!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Diane - I know what you mean about the sand. About a foot down is sand in our yard because we are so close to Puget Sound. Which is one of the many reasons I use raised beds. However, we don't have the cold temps like you do! Yikes, those are tough conditions to grow in.

Crunchy Chicken said...

GB - Were they in really small containers? Maybe they needed more space?

Green Bean said...

Nah. I transplanted them to bigger containers ... hoping. :/

Delora said...

My tomatoes have been crap this year; I think I'm suffering Verticillium wilt :( At first I thought it was a bad batch of Paul Robeson seeds I had purchased online, since those were the only affected plants, and the wilt went super-quickly. Now I think I'm seeing it in an Isis Candy plant I had purchased from the farmer's market, and it's also affecting the Druzba plants I had started from saved seed.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Delora - Ugh, that's terrible.